We start flying high...
1. Italian food is AMAZING, give me more pasta!
2. OMG it's sooo much better here than they make it at home!
3. I could LITERALLY eat pasta and pizza every day for the rest of my life!!
4. Why do I feel myself wanting nachos? I'm in Italy for godssake the food here is DOPE.
5. OK, I mean one night of non-Italian food wouldn't hurt anyone. There's got to be some places that serve a good chicken salad.
6. Oh, there's basically nothing other than Italian food? Oh... that's ok... I'm in Italy after all, I should just enjoy it while I'm here.
7. I WOULD SELL MY RIGHT KIDNEY FOR ONE NIGHT AT APPLEBEES!!! HOW DO THESE PEOPLE LITERALLY EAT PASTA AND PIZZA EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES!?!?
I love a good amatriciana as much as anyone, yet those of us that have stayed here for an extended period of time know that, all stereotypes aside, the Italian diet is somewhat limited. In any American city, you can find anything from Vietnamese to Peruvian to fried chicken. I guess that's why they call it the melting pot.
But still, how is it possible that the choice of ethnic restaurants in Italy is so limited? Sure, there's your Middle-Eastern kebabs (love those), over-priced Argentinian steakhouses, and ubiquitous Chinese/Japanese places, but that's really where it ends. Don't go to any of Rome's Mexican joints if you expect anything resembling an authentic chalupa (or if you're on a tight budget for that matter).
The fact is that Italians just love their staples and don't really trust anything else. Of course I'm over-generalizing, but it's clear that there's very little demand for anything other than the traditional dishes. Tourists, who usually only make it through 1-3 of the curve, compound this demand.
Ask an Italian how they can eat pasta almost every day and you'll get "Ahh but there are many different ways to cook pasta!" every single time. The Chinese are not trusted in general, so it's no big surprise they are not lining up to eat their food (it's an urban myth that the cats of Largo Argentina are used in the restaurant next to it). Everything else is too expensive to eat with any regularity.
While I don't want to be the ball-breaking foreigner who rolls into another country and has the nerve to tell them to change their ways, a burrito joint here and there really wouldn't hurt anybody.