What’s for lunch in Rome?

Last month, my family and I spent two glorious weeks in Italy, part of it visiting some good friends in Roma. I asked their two funny and rambunctious sons, Giovanni, 7, and Michele, 9, who go to a local public school, about what they eat for lunch. Here’s what they told me (with some help from their mom and dad!).

G&M: We call it pranzo a mensa and we eat all four courses that are typical for lunch in Italy. For the first course it’s usually pasta or soup; for the second dish we have meat, fish, cheese or eggs. There’s a side dish of vegetables or salad and a dessert of fruit or cake. Very rarely we get hot sandwiches with cheese and ham (ed. like a crocque monsieur).

AC: Is it different every day?

G&M: Yes

AC: Do you like it? What’s your favourite part? What’s the worst part?

G&M:  Sometimes we like it but not very often. The second course is the best. We like the sandwiches most of all! The worst part is the soup.

Cacio e pepe: a simple and divine Roman staple

AC: Where do you eat?

G&M:  In a special room called “mensa.”

AC: How much time do you have and who supervises you?

G&M: We have 30 minutes to eat and the teachers watch us.

AC: Do you play before or afterward?

G&M: We get to play for 1/2 an hour afterward.

AC: Are menus sent home so parents know what their kids are eating?

G&M: No, but the menu is posted in the school.

AC: Is the food cooked at school or off-campus?

G&M (with parental assistance): It’s cooked at school but some schools don’t have the facilities and have it cooked off-campus by special companies.

AC: Who pays?

G&M (ditto): The lunch is subsidized by the government and the price depends on family income. The highest rate is 80 euros a month (approximately $110.00 Canadian).

AC: Is there some local and/or organic requirement for the food?

G&M (ditto): Yes, organic food is part of the menu, but due to financial troubles, the government has recently decided to cut part of the organic food.

Thanks, boys—we can’t wait to show you around Toronto!

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