x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Buon appetito, principessa: shared taste makes Italians of us both

Shared tastes in food not only reinforce the bonds of affection but make catering and shopping very much easier.

My mother often marvels at how similar Mr T and I are in what we like to eat, and more importantly, in what we are adamant about never eating.

When she is preparing a dish for us and I am nearby washing the ladles and utensils she deposits into the sink every few seconds, I am repeatedly reminding her not to make the sauce too spicy. Then, when Mr T pops his head in to enquire if we need any help, and shakes his head vehemently when she asks him if she should make the sauce "just a tiny bit spicy", she chuckles.

"I don't know how you two found each other," she says every time. "It's amazing."

And in many ways when it comes to food, it really is amazing. Mr T cannot stomach spicy food, despite his Pakistani genes, and I practically go into shock if the smallest pinch of cayenne powder makes its way anywhere near my plate. Mr T's mother has taken to cooking two pots of biryani when it's Biryani Day: one mild enough for Mr T and me, and one for everyone else.

We both cannot eat seafood, despite trying repeatedly, and together, to build up a taste for it. In Italy, we turned a faint shade of green trying to swallow our scallops, and despite my father's marked efforts, smoked salmon will forever be our enemy.

Whenever we travel, I am struck with how convenient it is that we share such similar tastes. It never occurs to us to argue about dining. We choose Italian every time.

In fact, we choose Italian so often that I am curious as to why we bother visiting any other country in Europe, considering how we've been eating in Prague the past week. We became adept at dodging the restaurants advertising goulash and dumplings in favour of pasta, risotto and copious amounts of caprese salad. We have a weakness for crusty bread dipped in basil-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar that boiled bread dough can never compete with in our world.

We munch on the same snacks, we like to bite into the same fruits and we enjoy the texture of our roasted or steamed vegetables in exactly the same way. We have an aversion to ginger that few other people in the world share, considering its healing properties, and we love the exact same type of breakfast cereal, which we sometimes have for dinner.

Opposites may attract, when they are opposites in temperament, but when it comes to daily grub, the convenience of a like-minded palate knows no bounds. We feel it acutely when we travel, we appreciate it constantly when we experiment with new cuisines, and it is a comfort in the routine of our daily lives, facilitating both grocery shopping and cooking.

And although it might have been better for my waistline had I married a man who does not consider pasta his raison d'être, it would certainly not have been half as delicious a life as that I am currently leading.

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