"I'm having a relationship with my pizza." As Julia Roberts looks over her Neapolitan pizza at her Eat Pray Love co-star, Tuva Novotny, I too feel a pang for the thin, cheesy, luscious display that nearly outshines the Oscar winner. As it turns out, this particular scene was filmed at the famous L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in the heart of Naples, which has been baking some of the city's best pies since 1870, and where Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book Eat Pray Love, actually ate during her four-month stint in Italy.
The new movie is an unabashed chick flick—my boyfriend was one of four men in an audience of about 100 people. But however girly the plot, the bounty of delicious Italian, Indian and Balinese foods can be enjoyed by all. Here's a quick list of the film's food highlights to get your mouth watering.
Pizza Napolitana: Forget New York. Forget Chicago. As mentioned, this pizza has become the object of my desire—days after seeing the movie, I still can't get it out of my mind. As one might expect, the Pizzeria Da Michele does not divulge their recipe online, but here's a pizza dough recipe you can use to try to approximate the real deal.
Egg, Asparagus, Potato and Ham Salad: One day in Rome, Roberts' character, Liz, decides to stay home and do nothing—except eat, that is. She drizzles olive oil over a portion of asparagus, hard boiled eggs, and prosciutto, and pours herself a glass of Italian red wine for a job well done.
Figs and Ham: As she winds through the streets of Rome, Liz passes a woman delicately cutting into a platter of fresh figs and Parma ham. This was a pleasant departure from the also delicious but more ubiquitous dish, "prosciutto e melone," or ham and melon.
Spaghetti all'Amatriciana: Nowhere is the power of simple recipes and fresh ingredients more apparent than when Liz gorges herself on a heaping plate of this spaghetti and tomato sauce dish. Spaghetti all'Amatriciana—which, at its most basic, includes onions, tomatoes, pancetta, olive oil, and chili peppers—is native to the town of Amatrice, located to the east of Rome near the border dividing the regions of Abruzzo and Umbria. Although older, more traditional recipes included lard and bacon fat, olive oil has proved a healthier substitute and is now widely used in Italian trattorias throughout the country.
Fried Artichokes: I tend to subscribe to the notion that frying vegetables defeats the purpose of eating them in the first place. But when a plate of crispy, golden, leafy artichokes was served up in the film, I had to reconsider. I've always eaten artichokes steamed, with a touch of mayo and lemon. But next time I might have to plunge those artichokes straight into the frying oil.
Thums Up!: While the Eat portion of Eat Pray Love takes place mostly in Rome, a few other interesting foods (and beverages, in this case) pop up throughout the rest of the film. During her stay at an ashram in India, Liz's friend Richard takes her to a small cafe to enjoy a sweet, Indian cola called Thums Up! that serves as the Coca-Cola substitute in India. A hand making a thumbs up sign appears on the bottle.
Exotic Balinese Fruits: As Roberts' character cruises the Balinese open-air markets with her new Brazilian squeeze, played by Javier Bardem, they scope out a couple of the native fruits of Bali, including the spiked Durian, a fruit prohibited in many hotels because of its offensive odor. "That one tastes like stinky feet," Bardem says. Contrary to what his character would have us believe, though, I've heard that if you can get past the smell, the taste of the fruit's creamy filling is pretty darn good.
Already been to see the film? What was your favorite Eat Pray Love food moment?