I’ve long believed that Americans had a perverted relationship to food, but that belief was confirmed this week when, amidst news coverage of our reborn nation, aired commercials for what looked and were being hawked as a “Tuscan Feasts,” meals the ads promised were reminiscent of something you’d find in a restaurant! In Italy!!! But were, in fact.. nooo… Not frozen dinners. Not fast food, or even anything you’d get your paws on in an “Italian” mall restaurant. But cat food. You got it: restaurant-style, Tuscan-inspired meals for your feline friends.
When several years ago I took my cat George with me to Sicily, where I’d been sentenced for several weeks to write a cookbook for a mother-daughter who ran a restaurant in the mountains outside of Palermo, the women writing the book fed their cats and dogs a regular diet of pasta and white meat chicken, the part that they wouldn’t eat themselves because it had no flavor.
But, hey. That doesn’t stop us! Prized for its low fat and calorie content, Americans look over the pesky fact that it tastes exactly like nothing and have made the boneless, skinless chicken breast the poster child for Healthy Eating. Meanwhile, as we invent salsas and glazes to cover our flavor-free spreads, our kitties can be found, in their imaginations anyway (or ours) in a trattoria in Cortona. Veal Milanese, signora? Salsiccia anyone? Or preferisci tagliatta this evening? It just seems to me that somewhere along the road, when it comes to food, we took a wrong—or at least a weird—turn. Is there any way back? Dark meat, anyone?