The baseball season opened this week. I am an unapologetic Red Sox fan – always have been and always will be. Even after a dreadful season last year, there is a certain sense of anticipation and hope for what the new season could bring. Clean slate and all that. I have great memories of listening to the Red Sox on the radio on Cape Cod – the announcers’ voices are so familiar that for me they are truly synonymous with summer. Listening on the radio is my favorite way to consume the games. Unless I have the chance to be at Fenway. There is nothing quite like a day at the ballpark. It is THE only time I partake in a hot dog – a Fenway Frank cannot be resisted. And you would all be lying if you told me that you do not love ballpark food. Of course, these days, major league parks have gone way beyond hot dogs and beer. Parks now offer sushi, grilled cheese, crab cakes and other gourmet fare.
Italians don’t have baseball. I mean, there are baseball teams in Italy. The sport was introduced to the Italians by American soldiers during World War II. But they don’t HAVE baseball. They have soccer. And no matter how much baseball is considered The Great American Pastime, it can’t compare with the soccer experience in Italy. Soccer (calico) is serious, so serious that there are not food vendors at the stadium. There is no time to leave the game and get a bite to eat – it’s inconceivable that you would even consider missing a part of the game. Usually mamma will pack you a panino, a piece of fruit and a Kindersnack (the Italian version of Twinkies). But once you get to the field, forget it. There is way too much to do. There are opposing fans to taunt, there are flags to run around with, cheers to chant ad nauseum, police in riot gear to avoid.
Though ballpark food is not a “thing” in Italy, I imagine that if it was, it would be AMAZING! Here are a few Italian takes on traditional ballpark fare:
- Taking the place of the hotdog would have to be the porchetta sandwich – Umbria’s answer to the ultimate street food.
- Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn – roasting the rosemary is essential. It’s too woody if you put it on the popcorn raw.
- Supplì - it’s not a ballpark without fried stuff. How about rice balls? These would fit the bill for park food perfectly. I might even go to Yankee Stadium if they had these…
- The Sicilian Ice Cream Sandwich would definitely make an appearance.
I think I understand why they don’t serve food at soccer stadiums. With fare this delicious, who would even watch the game? I think I will stick with the good old American traditions. I hope I have the chance to partake in a Fenway Frank this year. Preferably during a playoff game. Go Sox!