Although I lived in Assisi very briefly, I unwittingly, and even a little unwillingly, absorbed some of the local biases. Amongst them:
1) Milan sucks and Milanesi are snobs, and if you want a good city, you should go to Rome or Florence. Honestly? I have no idea about Milan, having never been there, but I am deeply enamored of Rome. The whole one city vs. another is a bias, clearly provincial. I absorbed it a bit. Broadly categorizing almost any city and its inhabitants thusly is, obviously, a bit ridiculous.
2) Home-made pasta is only to be made with 00 flour (doppio zero, or as I found myself thinking of it, the James Bond of flours, having earned its double-oh designation). Eh. I watched the housewives and the nonnas make their pasta, looked at many locals buying theirs and concluded that for a not dissimilar price and a great deal less time, very nearly as good as (expertly) home-made could be bought at the pasta store in Santa Maria degli Angeli, just down the hill. My conclusion was less about The Proper Way to make pasta than about the merits of making it at all.
3) Polenta is pig food. Look, I’m not the one who said it, okay? But until tonight, I never once made polenta at home. Why would you make polenta, I thought? I didn’t think “because it’s pig food” but some kernel of bias clearly wriggled its way into my mind and refused to leave. I ate it when offered, but…. meh. And since my housemates were from Umbria, Lazio, and Puglia, polenta, a much more northern dish, was never really discussed as a possible part of dinner together. Ever. When polenta somehow came up with one of the women in the village I worked in, she sniffed and dismissed it as pig food. Which, okay, was what she dismissed almost anything made with corn as, now that I think about it. I was impressionable, and she’d cooked me more than one good dinner. What can I say?
What I can say is that I finally made polenta for the first time. And… it was okay. I just couldn’t quite shake my more than decade-old bias against it, even though, technically, I could taste that there was nothing actually wrong with it. I served it with sausage and rapini, and the pan juices were lovely, and the kids ate it willingly and… well. Hmm. The thing is, I kept thinking that a flatbread, torta al testo (the central Italian answer to pita, I suppose), would have been so much better with it. The nonnas and housewives may not have fully triumphed with me, but they made a dent.