Elisabetta (Coach Elys) grew up in Italy and currently lives in Portugal. She is a certified sommelier, and she comes from a long line of restauranteurs. On today’s episode, she talks about foods of Italy and Portugal, along with the wine that pairs with those dishes.
This is the seventh installment of Foodies Take Flight, a series where Jess talks with world travelers, expats and citizens of countries outside of the United States about their food experiences. Whether you have wanderlust and want inspiration for your next trip, or you’re a homebody who just wants a mental vacation, Foodies Take Flight will take you up and away.
Elisabetta (Coach Elys)
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The Flaky Foodie
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This transcript is computer generated and may contain grammar, word and syntax errors.
Hi, it’s Jess and you’re listening to another episode of The flaky foodie podcast. The only show where the discussion is delicious and there’s chatter to chew on. On today’s episode, we’re going to learn more about the foods of Italy and Portugal, as we talk with Elisabeta. You won’t want to miss it, stay tuned.
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Welcome back. Today we have with us Elisabetta. She’s a life coach. And she currently lives in Portugal, but she’s lived in Italy for a very long time. So we’re going to talk to her a little bit about Italian food. And she’s also a sommelier. So let’s talk about the best wine pairing for that food or beverage pairings for their food. So welcome to the show. We’re very glad to have you.
Hi, everyone, and great to be here. Thank you for having me.
So tell me a little bit about your background. You are . So what does that entail?
Well, first of all, and I I’d say before being sommelier I am an Italian girl, woman, I was born in Florence, Tuscany. If you are if you are familiar with the Italian peninsula, Florence is in the center, you know, Italian Italian girl in a family of three generations of restaurant owners. And last reading. Yeah, so I would say that in my life, probably a bit more than the average standard. Food equals love. And something it’s something common, I would say you for any Italian, you know, the meal, the Food Wine, the pleasure of the table is something that is part of our culture, generally speaking. Yeah. So this is my background. I was born in a blessed region. When when it comes to the food culture, this has been, of course, a blessing for me. And it’s the imprinting that I have because I have I am a food lover. I love everything around food, wine, and the all the tradition, the history behind that. It has been also the source of some problems for me, because it’s slipped out of hand at some point, but I’ll tell you a bit about that later, probably. So before being a sommelier, I am all this and I grew up with these abundance of food of history. These brought me to wanting to know more about that. And to dig deeper into this food culture. I am Yes, I am a certified sommelier. And this gives me the opportunity to define myself not only as a food and wine lover, but they say also an expert. You know, yeah, the sommelier or wine steward, trained wine professional. The origin at least is to work with the chef of cuisine and normally working in fine restaurants collaborating with the chef to give to give the guests the best dining experience, even a wine, the wine and beverage nerds. Like again, I was weren’t fundraised in a country that the ancient Greeks, when they arrived in these Peninsula, they called it in North Korea, which means the land of wine. So just to give you an idea, and still today, Italy produces more wine than any other country in the world. So you imagine the impact one has in this in this culture, for me, having this special, it means more being, quote, quote, and Ambassador of the culture of dining, because you know, what I what I know more about what I do, and this this part of who I am, what I do, is the promotion of the pleasure of being around a table, combined with the knowledge of it, and the healthy responsible consumption of food. And what’s paired with it in wine being where beer when with, I don’t know, liquors, whatever, there is a pleasure related to that there is a pleasure in gathering to go back to my eight, my background, the family gathering, the mom or the grandma, staying in the kitchen and spending time creating something. It’s something again, that equals love. And for me food has its sort of speak intrinsic sacredness, beverages as well. Food is what keeps us alive. And it has the power of giving joy of you know, of creating bonds, it’s something it’s something that I treat, with respect, recognizing its dignity, and its power. Its power. So this is my introduction.
So you’ve mentioned that your family has kind of a legacy of of owning restaurants. So what kind of dishes Did you eat growing up?
I love Mediterranean diet. This is something that I yeah, I’m passionate about. And this is not only pizza and pasta.
Ithink a lot of Americans have that misconception about Italian food. That that’s all that it is.
Yes, exactly. My list of favorite dishes is continuously evolving as I am as we are, of course. But considering the main stars of the true Mediterranean diet, the traditional local fruits, vegetables, nuts, seafood, beans, olive oil, dairy, perhaps also a glass of tube of new wine. Well, first of all, Italy is very various. There is a variety of traditions and of cuisines, the Italian cuisine of the North, the dishes of the north of Italy are opposite very, very different. Compared to the regional dishes of I don’t know, say for example, the deep south of Sicily. The same is for the pairing for the wine for the tradition of beverages. I am more into a simple cuisine. It is very simple. It’s based on what’s available locally. So you have the abundance of vegetables of tomato of olive oil, and it’s very simple it’s I love pastor but I mean with pastor say for example is the classic pasta with tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes. So you get on market you pick your tomatoes, or you go to the to the to land, the many people who still have their own piece of land, they grow vegetables, so you go and pick your your fresh vegetables and you go into kitchen, you chop them down and this is that that’s ready to be eaten. So it’s very, very simple. This is what I love most. Again, I’m not any more into into the meat. Otherwise I would say a good if you’re in Tina, that’s the classic the big T bone steak is the superstar of Tuscan cuisine. When it comes to pairing. If you want to play safe ask the locals for the local traditions. For example, if you got to finance it, you’ll find the big Fiorentina at the bill the big bone steak, the big steak, go easy play with colors. You have red meat, it goes with the red wine. And again if we do not know what’s what’s the He was the local the local wine, ask the locals. In this case if you asked a lot of what should I drink with that, they will say a county that it is the, the the the classic pairing, very good pairing in the most, most famous local marriage. But if you go to the south and you want to try our real authentic authentic pizza in Naples in Napoli, go for that recommended ask for a margarita, very simple pizza Margarita with the local white wine called, say for example, Valentina. It’s fresh, it’s young, and it enhances the flavor of the main dish, or, or beer or beer. Yes, Italy is the fourth European producer of artisanal beer, you’ll find plenty of micro breweries everywhere, everywhere you go in Italy. It’s a world worth discovery in World War Three an exploration for sure. I would say keep it simple, okay, because the authenticity is in the simple dishes, local dishes and the local pairings because it’s not by chance that we have that kind of wine in that specific area of Italy, there are wines that you find only in that specific area in the were born there for a reason. For example, cuisine is more there is a tendency to the fat, the gravies and you have that those sparkling wines that you know they help cleaning the mouth so there is a wine there is a reason why we have those wines in those places. And yeah, as a local
so from for back home for you. Did you eat at restaurants a lot? Or did you mostly cook at home? And if you eat ate at a particular restaurant, which one would you kind of recommend?
Well, I know restaurants I love to explore the world of restaurants and prefer the main choice. The first choice for me is to go where again, the locals go, yeah, so fine to spot the I prefer the smaller places that are appreciated by people who leave in the area. Rather than the Michelin star restaurant. I go, I go to restaurants but I prefer to I prefer the homemade cuisine. I love cooking. I love baking I prefer the family gathering or the friends gathering at home where everyone brings something rather than go out and go to the restaurant but this you know when I can of course when I can. When I travel one of the first things that I do is I look for in the internet I look for the sightseeing monuments, the places to visit and the restaurants and where to eat and where to eat well avoiding again the touristic traps this kind of things Yeah.
So how long have you been in Portugal?
I arrived in 2018
How How does the cuisine in Portugal kind of compare to italian cuisine?
So culturally speaking, I do not pretend to find what I find Italy here and vice versa not fair we do not have the well at least in Florence I didn’t have the sun the warmth i didn’t have the the weather conditions in the soil to grow vegetables or for the for the wind reaction is different so there is no comparison appreciate both. It’s not clickable for me.
Well what is like the dish that you’ve kind of discovered that native Portuguese people eat that you enjoy?
I enjoy these. Well first of all, as the back as for Italian cuisine Portuguese as well is various traveling Portugal is a travel labor. It’s a it’s a flavorful journey. The cuisine is variants. You have a variety of traditions of cultures, where I live now. I live in the Deep South of Portugal, and there is a panish influence. But more than that the Arabs were here. So you still have this influence in the cuisine in the culture in the traditions in the architecture. Also, the cuisine is tasteful. It’s about piracy. It’s the chi li the presence of Chile. And since I live on the coast, and the southern region of Portugal is devoted to fish fishing, there is an abundance of fish based dishes. Here, especially here, the cuisine is very simple. The daily meal often brings grilled fish or chicken. The Portuguese table. As I said, it’s a relatively simple cuisine based on the local production. And also something that I like the seasonality of the main ingredients.
And so fresh, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, yes, everything. Yeah,
everything that he is, yes, fresh of the season. And I think I started to appreciate this concept of seasonality when I moved to here, where I lived, we have everything all the year long, there is not this concept of Okay, now it’s the season of, I don’t know, cook hamburgers or or strawberries. Not that much. You find everything all the all the year. Here we have. You have citrus almost all the year for example, but it’s because of the weather because it’s possible to have a this continuous production, but the local economy and also the food the cuisine is sensitive to the seasonality of fruit, vegetables, fish. Also, you have the sardine seasons around the month of June, for example, you have the festival of seafood in August. That is one of the biggest events of the of the city for sure. But also the region and I love to pair the local food with local wines. Although I love vineyard where they that is the literally the green wine. It’s a production of the of the north of Portugal in the largest production it’s refreshing it’s slightly petty and sparkling and very refreshing because very well with this say for example for for the grilled fish you haven’t been up and and life is good.
What are some foods that you can get in Italy that you may not be able to find in Portugal? I’m just curious. Pasta is not a lot of pasta in Portugal
it’s another use it’s another concept of pasture. Initially we have those incent those kinds of paths the shapes of pasture types we have egg pasture handmade pasture we have the whole lot of shades of pasture and just a few here only a few here but as the as in the best Italian tradition I do it myself.
Also you make your you make your own pasta.
Yeah. And I make it at home whenever I know whatever I fancied whenever I can
what are some shapes that you would find in Italy that you want to find in Portugal? What have you been looking for? I’m sure it’s a lot but just like what’s one example?
I don’t know in English, the name I love the the the strange shades for example, there are there is a something of my childhood. There is a shave that it’s called wheels. And again, it’s it’s also a mother of the souls that goes with pasture that absorbs better the souls that shape absorbs whether the souls or it’s it has the it has a structure you pay for it well with that throws or yeah and in all the handmade pasta that is traditional pasta shapes that you find in the south of Italy in Polya or in Sicily, that you do not find you Milan, pretty much find it elsewhere. I do not, do not look for them here. And if I want it, I do it by myself. It’s not a problem.
So what kind of pasta dinner if you make it at home and you’re making your own pasta? What was like your go to dish? What shape and what? What type of sauce?
Unknown Speaker 20:24
I don’t like to repeat myself I like to
try something new. Something new.
Yeah. You know, and recently I did tortellini. I made them from scratch with then a friend came over and help me out. But lasagna, say for example, it’s like, okay, what I do have or which guests, I have friends that do not fancy vegetables that much as I do. So, ok ay. Meat fillied tortellini. Okay, I have friends that are vegan. So you do something different. And I like to do something different every time. It’s very, it’s rare that I eat the same thing twice a week,
get all your all the different colors of your fruit. So this isn’t at all a lot of variety. So you mentioned having a lot of friends over if you are going to eat at, let’s say you’re traveling to Italy, and somebody invites you over what’s something that you should know or something that you should bring? Or what what can you expect if you eat at someone’s home in Italy?
I don’t want to generalize, but I would say that you bring the bottle of wine, okay. And yeah, it’s always an appreciated very appreciated gift. When you are invited, you bring your own bottle of wine and you share or the dessert, the sweets or the cake for the or the gelato for the end of the meal. What would you expect? It depends? Really it depends on we have a huge illusion of pasta. It’s always it’s always okay. Oh, well. I have friends. What do I do I do spaghetti spaghetti night. Something easy. Again, something easy, something that you or you pizza or you have a cut of meat. Also we eat a lot of meat. And there are different recipes, different local dishes.
Where do you necessarily eat if it was like a big very special occasion? Like a big holiday? Like? Do you all have like big gatherings around like Christmastime or what’s what are what are dishes that are served during that regional?
It’s all about the region. region you do not expect to eat. To eat what people eat in the south of Italy in Milan. You do not expect something you eat in Bologna in the center of Italy in Sicily. It’s very various you have both tortellini just to give you an example in Bologna in the center of Italy. So tortellini instead of with Zoes. With rose. Meat brows is pairing with wine, sparkling wine, slightly pity and wine, Lambrusco for example. In the Central Valley in Naples, you have also the the number of dishes for the same meal is different. You have several dishes for the celebrations. You have or six, seven dishes in a meal. It’s unbearable.
little overwhelming. Yes, yes. All the different dishes.
Yeah, and and it’s about family. Yes, homemade is homemade. Well, of course world world and society are changing. And the time the time is limited. All over the world. The routine is more hectic than than it was years ago. But yeah, there are some some traditions that you do not go to the supermarket and you find that dish. You have to prepare the meal Oh one two days in advance you have to get ready for the big meal. So yeah it’s it’s various its various but I would say that in the south you you have a higher presence and abundance of fish also have a table. So I’m thinking that you do not find that the in the north and of course we’re the The coast is where it isn’t. But also you find different things you Another curiosity olive oil that I mentioned earlier for the Mediterranean diet, but yes, it’s true not everywhere in Italy, you have the tradition of having olive oil as a main ingredient. You have parts of Italy, where rather than using olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, you find butter where you find fat of pork of the pork. Depends on where you are.
It really varies on where you go in Italy the type of foods that you get. So in Portugal, you go over to I guess some of your Portuguese friends homes. What is the main dish usually on the table? Or does it vary? Of course from household to household?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you have some traditional dishes. Again, here when I leave, it’s all about grilled fish or fish. They also have a seed seafood rice rice with the food. It’s very like a pie. Nope, no, it’s like a result. Yeah, like risotto more liquid than my original concept of restaurant. You eat it with a spoon, literally. So but it’s made with clams, the local seafood there are traditional dish where leave is the instead of rice. It’s more or less the same ingredient. Least but instead of rice, you put the corn flour, like Pillager. Like, again, more liquid and you eat it with a stone. But yes, that concept of polenta with clams, or with clams and pork chops. Its various. It’s very various. Did you know that another curiosity? Did you know that KFC adopted a Pastore with Portuguese origin and made it available in Asia in the Chinese area stores?
No, I did not know that. So a fun fact today that you can get a Portuguese pastry and a KFC in Asia and American company in Asia that’s as wild
Yes, yes, yes. And it’s I am talking about the superstar of Portugal Swedes. The name is Pastel de nata. And it’s a Portuguese egg custard tart pass rate which is optionally dusted with cinnamon and served with the strongest Presto coffee, the so called pica and it’s aside from that side, Portugal this past three is particularly popular popular in other parts of the world, like for example as Western Western Europe, Asia and the the former Portuguese colonies such as Brazil, Mozambique, Macau, go East Timor, you find you find this, this past tree also in this part of the of the world, and this is why the KFC menu and I find it curious.
Yeah, that’s really interesting. So you said you’re switching you’ve been kind of switching to more of a plant based diet or a vegan vegetarian diet. How has it been? It’s easy to find vegetarian and vegan options in Portugal and and Italy? No, no. It’s a bit of a challenge.
No, it’s not. Yeah, I have a few episodes about that. That made me feel puzzled. Like no, it’s not. Again, Portugal is various and it’s there is a variety of traditions here. The main tradition main cuisine is based on food with animal origin. So if you take it off, it’s quite challenging. It’s a challenging choice. And when I go out, especially if If I do like to explore, but I want to know what I, what I’m eating. Yes, yes. And then I decide if I want to go ahead or not. Or to explore something else. So I was out for a meeting with my colleague at work years ago when I when I moved to here, and we were in a big national convention with hundreds 1000s of participants up in the north of Portugal. And we had the gala dinner, the most important event aside from from the meeting was this gala dinner. Okay, so very posh, very, very high maintenance the floor like okay, we opted for a plant based dinner, and we’ll let the organizer know about that. Okay, no problem. Of course, we have the the vegetarian options. The vegetarian options was only a salad with cards.
That sounds very familiar.
Yes, yes. When the starters, it was like the first book, The buffet. And then on another location, we have this gala dinner, but when when it comes to the time of the starters of the appetizers of the Aperitivo, we asked for, we saw the trays coming and we were like, where is the value options? No veggie options. Because our streams about chicken about chicken again, it was about seafood. So we asked the pork we asked excuse me, we asked to someone of the of the staff. Excuse me. Do you do you have anything vegetarian? This this guy looked at as like, what does it mean? And he looked again, at the trade. He was holding any pointed after a while. After a few moments he pointed and they say well, yeah, yeah, yeah, I have it. I have it. I have this one. That is with trip shames. And these witness that it was chick was like, meat and vegetables. So my colleagues say no luck. Let it go. Okay, thank you. No problem. And we turned away and we went away. But I was like, seriously, we have this one with shrimps. And we have this one with chicken and vegetables. And you see, and it’s a convention National Convention. It was it was a it was a heck of a catering company. You can’t give me this kind of answer. And so this is just one of the of the episodes, but it’s, it’s not the only one. Unfortunately, most common faggy option is salad is salad with with fresh onions with fresh carrots. And the other one is beetroot shredded vegetables. That’s it green salad. Again, it’s a matter of, of tradition, I see that this is evolving also because it’s a touristic place. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Europe, Algarve, where I live. So we have a massive presence of tourists. And the culture is is evolving is changing. But it requires time requires time and patience and, and dare to be different and there to do something different. This is this is something that I see small places on by locals, young people that open small restaurants or dining things that serve just healthy food. And they have very cool plant based menus. And this is something inspiring and gives hope.
So you’ve discovered small local places that are plant based so you can you can find those unfortunately, you just have to look for
it. It depends. Again, you find plenty of places like this. It’s normally in Lisbon. It’s normally part of something that is evolving. In other are places in other areas of the country, Portugal is somehow a centralized reality. It’s like, okay, we have Lisbon, the area of Lisbon, and then all the rest. It’s not it’s not fair. It’s not the suburbs of something else. It’s, it’s a region. It’s another area, it has its culture, its tradition, its unique personality. And in terms of development, in terms of, you know, exchange of cultures mean, some places, there is a long road to travel
while you were traveling, or just either around your home country of Italy, or around Portugal, what is like a, is there a dish that you can remember that stands out that you’ve had, it’s just been phenomenal, maybe your top 10 everywhere,
everywhere I can find gyms everywhere, I mean, not picky, as I was saying, I do not compare. So when I when I visit a country I like to, to know and understand the cultural background of a dish, or have a wine of something they drink. And they eat. And I like this full immersion. So I want I want to discover the place, letting the locals speak and hearing the listening to the stories behind what I am eating. Then, of course, I have my likings I have. I have my likings I have my favorite dishes, when you decide sometimes to make this leap of faith. Sometimes, she discovers such gems that you’re like, wow. And I do remember dishes from everywhere I visited beyond the most, most famous the most comments that you may find. But aside from that, I love to discover, and I have fond memories of dishes I have tried in Greece, say for example, the dishes with dried fruit nuts, the goat cheese. And the wines they paired with them. Well, here in Portugal, there are there are a few in France, the cheese, the cheese culture that they have in France and the beers the beer production that I found in the north of France, as I said at the border with Belgium, so it’s more Belgium tradition, but a lot of that I love even if my regular diet. My diet practice is not that I love to taste. Yes, of course, it’s part of your culture. And in some places, they get offended. If you also need to be I mean, starting from Italy. So okay, I’ll taste it. And I like to spend some time to find the pairing. Then of course the my regular diet is another one my daily meals are different. But I’d love to discover how you how you eat in your own country. What do you eat? And why do you eat that? What’s the story behind them?
And I’m all about that as well.
Yeah, I’m not I’m not that picky. I’m not that sommelier that justice. Well, the wine in the glass. Yes, of course. Yes, of course, also, but wine is pleasure. And for our producer, the most important thing is to give a feeling to give an emotion through that glass of wine. So you have to taste it you have to enjoy it and you have to share this thought this concept with with the one who produces the these wine or this this everything you have in the glass or everything you have in the in the in the plate. Yes, in my opinion, it’s an experience. Food is about having an experience. It’s a tastebud journey. Yes,
yeah. So tell me a little bit more about your business and your background. Your life coach, you kind of work with people about healthy eating kind of how did you get into this lane? And, and and what’s your kind of your story behind it?
Where do I start? Where do I start, I go back to my my story, my personal background that I can tell you, it’s very simple. I have been, I told you I grew up, I would say, social context where food equals love. And in my family, there was this abundance. I tell you, I have been addicted to food for most part of my life, but seriously, not addictive in a positive way addicted to food. And I have major health issues. Because of that. This is what I, I was telling at the beginning of our conversation, food equals love, but it eats in my story, my personal story is also the source of some problems, or some issues that I went through I have have been overweight, clinically overweight, for most part of my life, I have been bullied before my look, when I was a teenager, I had an alcoholic fatty liver. So it was a bit of a mess, what I found what I considered delicious, had a very big impact on my health and all my life. Then there was a there was a turning point, as I was saying, I had a major health issues that included a surgery included a time of recovery. And it was like my epiphany, because it was it was so young. And the doctor said, You are so young, and you have put yourself your life, your health at such a high risk that either you should you change your lifestyle, and you decide, you know, for something good for something better than that, or the consequences will be massive. And it’s like bad bang, it’s such a, it’s such a memory in my life. And, and all of a sudden, I realized that it wasn’t worth it. And there was so much beyond beyond my relationship with food. Again, my family was was very busy. There were a few X factors in my situation. But that is I was addicted to food. And I was familiar with overeating and binge eating and emotional eating. This is my background when it comes to delicious, healthy. You know, these are as a life coach and NLP practitioner. I know that nothing as has a meaning but the one we give it. So for me, now, the same food is not delicious anymore, or it has another meaning I recommend that many of us turn to food because it’s something available for everybody. We turn to food to control our emotion or to change our state. Its relationship we have with things and we have we food, people are addicted to shopping or are addicted to drugs to whatever to medicaments to do whatever. And it’s a relationship it’s a source. It’s an association that that we form that we build with that thing. Food can be the best the most the the most efficient and effective medicine in therapy, but he can also be the slowest poison. So with this background, it happens that now I am a life coach and I and I build my business on my on what I consider my values, my passion. And what I consider my mission here make this planet a healthier and more enjoyable place for each one of us. Starting with people around me and I help others to create habits, winning habits to maintain the lifestyle that gives them energy quote unquote a healthy lifestyle. We where you can be fit and strong you can have the energy you deserve, you can have, consequently, the body you deserve, starting from the mind. Well,
thank you so much for coming on the show, and for giving your expertise and your just life experience of living in these different European countries. I really appreciate it.
Thank you for having me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to jump jump into the Flaky Foodie show. I love that. Thank you so much. Yes.
So if people want more information about kind of your life coach services or just to learn more about you, where would they go?
Facebook, Facebook, I have my my Facebook profile that is Coach Elys, And there is also a community of healthy and powerful women. It’s my it’s my Facebook group where I spend my time there is also a website, CoachElys.com, where you can find a bit of information on what I do and how I support my folks.
Amazing Thank you make sure you check her out. Thank you again for listening. This has been the flicky foodie podcast. Have a great week everybody treat this episode like gossip or the gospel and tell somebody about it and make sure you eat something delicious. And if you want to tell me about it, I am the flaky foodie on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And also now tick tock. So thank you again. Have a great week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai