A Welcome Note: On Filling the Gaps

Dear Friends and Family:

Although I haven't added any posts since the summer of 2007, this blog continues to be a warehouse of my thoughts and experiences from my time abroad.


Monday, January 29, 2007

On Food

Every day I am learning about new fruits, vegetables and methods of food preparation. I eat at home with my host family four days a week, and three weeks into my stay, have yet to repeat a meal. Marina is an unbelievable cook, and has a very clever way of rationalizing food. She believes she is health conscious and is always quick to point out which foods help eliminate gas, purify your system, protect against sickness, reduce stress, help digestion, etc. On the occasion that she serves something that tastes incredible but should only be eaten once in a long while because it is either very fattening or only healthy in moderation, she is quick to point that out as well. Ironically, there is one dish that usually falls into this category every night, so she is able to rationalize serving these unhealthy foods every day by alternating them! Of course, I have to try everything so I’ve probably put on a few pounds since arriving here. They also make everything here with olive oil; Maria even put olive oil in my soup! She seems to cook up complex dishes effortlessly and at a whim. She doesn’t even care about knowing when I am getting home each night, because she will often throw something on and have it ready within 10 minutes. In fact, I prefer eating at home than at restaurants since there is so much food and it is all top notch. There’s one vegetable called finocchio, that looks like an artichoke heart but is more or less tasteless as it’s mostly water. You have to be careful about context however because finocchio is a derogatory slang word for homosexual. In the morning the entire kitchen table is covered in food for me to eat. Dried and fresh fruit, cookies, crackers, bread, toast, breakfast meats, eggs, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, tisana (infusion), tea, cheeses, homemade marmalade, pastries, the list goes on. . . This past weekend I went to Bologna. My God. The food was incredible. Each restaurant was better than the next and we didn’t even get into the ones listed in the guidebooks, already booked weeks in advance. The bread, the pasta, the sauces, all incredible. I had gnocchi, eggplant parmigiano, some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, and of course Parmigiano Regiano, the crème-de-la-crème of Parmigian cheese from Parma. The food there is much less oily then the rest of Italy because the region was never an olive growing region and only recently have the transportation networks developed enough for its importation from other Italian regions.
Thanks for visitng!