A while ago one of you noted in passing that
when I have been to Italy I did not see too many over weight people. And you eat pasta all the time […]
To Italian ears, the remark is of course a non sequitur, but in US culture it’s a genuine curiosity, worthy of some explanation.
The explanation is this: we are not too overweight (neither we are too weight-concerned) because we do not really eat so much.
Point one: size
Many years ago, when I was young and wild, I was in San Antonio, Texas and, meat-eater that I am, I mistakenly ordered a large of baby ribs. The fact that the menu mentioned the word “bucket” as the serving container should have warned me, because I was actually served a bucketful of baby ribs. And although my personal meat-eating record is a 1,3kg fiorentina (bone included), I could not eat more than one third of those ribs. Since then, my serving size is “small”, even if it makes me look weird
US people visiting Italy must have the reverse cultural shock: while in the US a 12oz (that’s 340g) coffee beverage is a small drink, an Italian cappuccino is less than one third the size (100-110g, typically).
Believe it or not, an espresso is 20-25ml, that is 1.5oz at the most.
We enjoy three-course meals because in Italy a serving of pasta is 80-100g (3-3.5oz, dry weight) and a serving of meat is 150-200g (5.5-7oz).
Point two: sugar
While sugar seems a mandatory component of any cooking ingredient in the US (pelati, tomato sauce, bread, …), we do not like to taste sugar unless we are having dessert. Also, we tend to drink water at the table, rather than soft drinks; this too cuts down on calorie intake.
Italians are not all obese because we think: oh, if we must go to fat hell for our sins, we may just as well sin big. As it happens, we don’t even go to hell. There was an important moral to draw here, but it has temporarily escaped the writer’s mind.