What my pizza adventure taught me about people

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This article was originally published in October of 2015 in my newsletter and has been re-published here just for you. It was originally titled: The Great Pizza Adventure.

I recently came back from a trip to Italy with my family.

Other than occasionally getting stuck in a round-about or listening to the kids in the backseat fight over the last Tic Tac, it was wonderful! The weather was a little on the cool side for a couple of nights but I don't suppose I'll get much sympathy for that. 

Our trip included time in Rome, Tuscany, Florence, and a few days in a little town near Venice visiting family that made me wish I had brought some really stretchy pants. 
 
The kids were a little apprehensive about going since they had never been overseas before so my wife and I spent some time preparing them beforehand. The Internet has really revolutionized making travel plans, so we were able to show them a few pictures of places we were going to visit and, more importantly, they could see the very hotel rooms in which they'd be sleeping.

Another concern of theirs was what food they would have to eat.

However, when they learned that they were going to have 16 days of bread, fresh pasta and pizza and at least one gelato a day, they were asking if we could move there permanently.
 
So we saw the sights, heard stories about Gladiators (who were actually short and fat btw), walked for hours over the ancient cobblestone, and were asked to buy an iPhone "selfie-stick" about 50 times. It was great but each day the question came "where can we find the best pizza?"   

Back at home, we tend to order our pizza from the same place most times, but now we were on a quest! Avanti!
 

We asked tour guides, hotel staff, shopkeepers and our trusty Trip Advisor app! We weren't disappointed; we had many spectacular pizzas, each one subtly different in its own way and even though it was tempting to go back to a place more than once, we never did.   For a detailed list, you can consult my son's blog: "Pizza's I have eaten and loved" over at HowMyDadGotFat.com.

As we ate, we talked about the types of sauce, the kinds of cheese, the consistency of the dough, the thickness of the edges. We even took a pizza making class while visiting an organic farm and made our own from scratch.
 

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We really started to appreciate the differences.

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It is safe to say my children are now pizza connoisseurs, but what thrills me more than that wonderful achievement is their newfound curiosity about what makes things different.
 
It got me thinking: in North America, our culture spends a lot of time trying to make things the same. We put the same stores and restaurants in each city. We can eat the same things almost everywhere we go.
 

It is safe to say my children are now pizza connoisseurs, but what thrills me more than that wonderful achievement is their newfound curiosity about what makes things different.
 
It got me thinking: in North America, our culture spends a lot of time trying to make things the same. We put the same stores and restaurants in each city. We can eat the same things almost everywhere we go.
 
I think this idea carries over to the way we think about people too.
 
Being in Italy made me ponder this a lot. Sure it was a bit challenging at times with the language, and with the way some things are done, but overall it was really fun. We had many "aha" moments and are different people because of it. I also think that part of the secret to appreciating differences is having (or taking) the time to do so and knowing that you might make some mistakes and that's ok. Even my Google translator didn't get it right every time and often it was pretty funny.  
 
 

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So just some food for thought (sorry, it was the theme after all): the next time you are with a group of people either socially or at work, take a moment to appreciate the things that make you different from each other. It's a lot better than wishing they'd be more like you, which will never happen.

As always I welcome your comments and am happy to recommend pizza places you need to check out if you're in Italy.