Student Blog: Food Science Course in Italy
kyra thurow '12 — undeclared
"IT WAS AN AMAZING, EPIC, FANTASTIC, BLOW-YOUR-MIND TRIP TO ITALY!"
The Italy Trip of Epic Proportions
This once in a lifetime opportunity would not have been possible for me to experience without help. I would like to take this time to say grazie to those people. First, I would like to thank my parents, without their support financially and emotionally throughout this journey, I would not have been able to have such a wonderful experience. I would also like to thank my extended family for the same reasons. You have all been so supportive to me and I sincerely thank you. I would also like to express my gratitude toward the Catawba Honors Program and Debra and Dyke Messinger for making this trip a financial reality for me and my fellow students. We learned so much more about food and the science of food in this hands on experience than we ever would have in the classroom setting. Without this trip, I would not have learned how to make ravioli from scratch as well as pesto pasta. I am truly grateful to you for
this and many other wonderful experiences. One of my favorite aspects of this journey was how influential art and religion was everywhere in Italy. I learned so much about the art of Italy and much more about Catholicism. I loved growing in knowledge and faith while I was on this trip and cannot express my gratitude enough for this adventure. Lastly, I would like to thank Giorgio, Claudio, Mrs. Imblum, Dr. Sabo, and my classmates for making the trip an enjoyable and unforgettable experience. It would not have been the same without any of you. Grazie!
Day One and Two (Time change made this difficult to distinguish): Charlotte, Munich, Milan, and Parma
The trip to Italy started out like any other: we were told to meet outside of the Shuford Science Building at 1:50 so that we could leave around 2:00. But before we get to the leaving part, I would like to introduce everyone in the group. There were 17 people in the group, including Dr. Sabo and Mrs. Sabo. The students on the trip included Michelle, Jarrett, Claire, Zach, Quinn, Lori, Dustin, Katie, Carrie, Ryan, Vanessa, Danielle, Lizzie, Crystal, and me. The group that I was predominately with on the trip during free time was Michelle, Jarrett, Claire, Dustin, Lizzie, and Lori.
So, after that short introduction, we were off to the airport. On the way there we hit some awful traffic, but finally got to the airport with just enough time to wait around. That's the thing that I just love about traveling (note the heavy sarcasm), hurry up to wait. That's all that traveling ever is, hurry up and wait and hurry up and wait. Then, after my rant on traveling, we had a nine hour flight on Lufthansa from Charlotte, NC to Munich, Germany. We ended up going six hours ahead to the time zone of Germany and Italy. Traveling east for me is always much harder than traveling west. There's just something about chasing the sun that wears me out. (This led to a rather commonly repeated question and answer in between me and Dr. Sabo. Dr. Sabo: "How are you, Kyra?" Kyra: "I'm tired." This journal, if named by Dr. Sabo would most likely be called "Kyra's
Tired." But since I'm writing this journal, and not Dr. Sabo, that is not the name of this wonderful piece of literature.)
On the flight there, I sat in between Dustin and Lizzie. We didn't really talk very much because each of us had our own TV screens, and that occupied all of us rather efficiently. The plane we were on had seats in an arrangement of two-four-two. I was in the middle of the middle, which is my least favorite seat to have due to the fact that there is nothing to lean my head against and it's generally uncomfortable. Due to the previous facts about the middle seats, I only got around an hour of incredibly interrupted and uncomfortable sleep on the flight there. When I wasn't sleeping, I watched New Moon, G-Force, and an episode of 30-Rock. The movie selection wasn't that great, but I wish that I had watched The Invention of Lying because I heard from Zach, Quinn, Michelle, and Jarrett that it was really funny. It would have been a much better choice than the
movies that I picked to watch. We were also served dinner
and breakfast on the flight to Munich. The dinner was vegetarian pasta, caesar salad, and a brownie. The breakfast was a roll, cheese, honey and oats bar, cheese, and water. I was relieved when we finally got to Munich mostly because I was tired of sitting. While I was in my incredibly un-restful state on the plane, I managed to kick off my shoes, and I squirmed so much that I ended up pushing one of my shoes all the way up under the chair of the girl sitting in front of me. I have no idea how I accomplished this feat, but when I woke up, finding my shoe was quite the task and I eventually had to ask the girl in front of me if there was a shoe somewhere in her vicinity.
After I successfully found both of my shoes, we got off the plane in Munich, which had a sufficient amount of snow on the ground. We were told on the plane that our gate had changed, so we walked to the new gate, only to find that we were still suppose to be at the old gate, which was conveniently on the other side of the airport. Once we got to our real gate, I noticed that there were no water fountains anywhere in the entire airport- after this encounter I looked in every airport for water fountains, and none of the ones in Europe had water fountains. I thought that was interesting. Then, we had a two hour layover in Munich in which we played the game bananagrams (I brought that along). No one other than Michelle and I had played before, but as we played the game, more and more of the group joined. It was a great bonding experience for our group, and became quite the staple on our
trip when we were waiting around. There was also an Asian family that was incredibly interested in the game and ended up filming us playing for about 15 minutes. It was funny to see how fascinated they were.
We were then bused out to the plane, and had to stand in a bitter wind for a while until we could get on the plane. The flight from Munich to Milan was relatively short, only about an hour and a half (I think- I kept falling in and out of consciousness). I sat next to a man from South Africa. He was very nice, and said that he was traveling for work and had been traveling for the past two months. He had already been to London, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, Brazil, and after Italy he was headed to Chicago and then back home. Way too much traveling for my liking, but he seemed to enjoy it. I felt really bad because I really wanted to talk to him, but I was so exhausted that I probably appeared to be narcoleptic to him as I would fall asleep while I was eating and while I was talking. We were also served lunch on the plane, although I didn't get to eat because I kept falling asleep. I
felt like I was on a magical plane because I fell asleep with nothing in front of me, woke up and there was food. Fell asleep with food in my hand, woke up and everything was gone. It was like the food fairy appeared and gave me food and came back while I was asleep and took everything away. I was incredibly sleep deprived at this point and time, so a food fairy didn't seem that far-fetched. At one point, when I woke up there were gorgeous mountains, the Alpine mountains that we were flying over. For the brief moments that I could see the mountains, I would praise God for being the amazing God that he is. There were so many moments on this trip that I could see the presence of God, and seeing the Alpine mountains was one of those moments for me.
WE FINALLY GOT TO MILAN!!! When we got there, we met Giorgio and were immediately herded onto a bus that we would be using for the duration of the trip. The bus that we had was a 50 person bus, and there were only 19 of us including Giorgio and Claudio (our bus driver). This was fantastic because we all got our own rows and could lie down and sleep if we wanted to. While this is what I dearly wanted to do, I was so enticed by the landscape of Italy that I just kept looking at the scenery (as well as the birds). For those who do not know, I wish to become an ornithologist (study of birds), so I was very excited about the many birds that I saw on the trip. The only field guide that I had, however, was in all German, and was thus rather difficult to use. Therefore, I am relatively positive
on the identification of most of the birds, but some are complete guesses, as I do not even know what the birds' ranges were. On the way to our first stop, which happened to be a really fancy convenient store, I saw a Carrion Crow, Raven, gulls of some type, Rock Doves, a Milan Royal Kite, ducks of some kind, and Magpies. I also learned some interesting information about Italy from Giorgio. For example, I learned that Italy can fit in the US thirty-three times, three times in Texas alone. While the US has a population 5 times bigger than Italy, there is still much less space in Italy to hold the amount of people that it does. Despite this fact, the people of Italy seem to take care of their environment much better than Americans do.
We then arrived at a convenient store called AutoGrill. It was a gas station store and had a buffet-like restaurant that had some really tasty food. I had some tortellini, kiwi, and foccacia. It was a lot of food, and it was delicious. It was the first time that I used a foreign currency. It was just cool to see a different form of something that is so precious to people all around the world. The concept of money is mind-blowing to me sometimes. Why is a miniscule piece of paper so important? Anyway… I digress. I think that the AutoGrill was near a body of water of some type because I kept seeing ducks fly over. I couldn't see them well enough to tell what kind they were, I could tell that they were ducks though.
After the AutoGrill, we went to the outskirts of Parma to our hotel for the night, the Tricolore Hotel. I roomed with Michelle and Lizzie that night, and we had some great times. First of which was figuring out how to work the lights in the hotel room. The light switches did not work when we came in the room, and we found a slot that looked like the door key fit into it. So we tried to put the room key in the slot and TADA! Lights! So we put the key in and then took it back out. We had the lights on for awhile, and then they all went out. So we put the key back in for a moment, and the lights came back on. After several times of this occurring and us going through many possibilities such as "Is someone else controlling our lights?" "Is the breaker working?" "Maybe
we had too many lights on, and shorted the breaker…" We finally figured out that if you leave in the key in the slot, the lights stay on. It's a system that encourages environmental living, as the lights go out when the key is taken out. So, how many honors kids does it take to turn on the lights? Answer: three, and 15 minutes.
After we got settled into the hotel, a group of us went on a walk through the surrounding area. It was a very secluded area of Italy that had some beautiful rustic buildings everywhere you looked. The group that went on the walk included Lizzie, Jarrett, Claire, Zach, Quinn, Dr. Sabo, Mrs. Sabo, Ryan, and Dustin. We saw the first Italian dogs on this walk, and they followed us for quite some time. My favorite part of the walk was at the very end when we found a beautiful catholic church. It looked so surreal and historic. We were going to go inside, but mass was in process, so we just admired it from the outside. We also heard a rooster on this walk. It was much colder than I anticipated it was going to be in Italy, not just on that walk, but the entire trip. I always felt cold. We ended up walking around 3 miles through town and back to the hotel.
Once we got back to the hotel, we broke out bananagrams again while we waited for dinner, but we played on teams this time. Quinn and I were on a team together, and we won a couple times. It was really fun to play with teams. Some of the best words that were made during the games were rhapsody (Jarrett), thorny (me), and zealot (Claire). Dinner was served by the hotel we were staying at and it was delicious. It was a four course meal, starting with prosciutto ham (which I gave to Quinn as I am a vegetarian). The next course was delicious ziti pasta that was better than any ziti I've had in the US. There was a meat sauce on the ziti, but it wasn't that hard to pick around. We also had potatoes and veal (I gave the veal to Ryan), the potatoes were cooked really well, it was different any kind of potato that I've had before, it was not crispy but they weren't really
soft either. It was really hard to explain, but very yummy to eat. The last thing that we had was an apple-cream-pie of some sort. I'm not really sure what it was exactly, but whatever it was, it was scrumptious and I wanted more of it once I was done.
After the delectable meal, it was finally time to go to sleep. Our hotel room wasn't the typical American hotel room with two full size beds and a bathroom with a full shower. This room was about half the size of a normal hotel room in America and it is three small single beds squished into the room. It was not quite square, it had some funny angels, but it was cool to have such a different experience with a hotel room. The bathroom was really small, and the shower was even smaller. One of my favorite things was a heated towel rack; it dried towels really quickly, and kept them nice and warm. I think that is something that can be added to the hotels in the US. We had to up pretty early the next day, and the time change made that even more difficult to adjust to. All-in-all, it was a fantastic first day and incredibly exhausting but totally worth every second of it. On to
day number three!
Day 3: Parma and Florence
Breakfast was at 8:00, and it was a standard continental breakfast in Italy, which are light-years better than the continental breakfasts in the US. I had a powdered croissant, an apple turnover, and an apricot tart with still water. The water was another of those culture shocks. You had to distinguish between still and sparkling water everywhere and there was no ice. People in Italy simply did not use ice. It was a simple difference, but rather shocking. I actually preferred it, you get more of your drink, and it was always cold. I think the Italians are just smarter than Americans all-around.
We then traveled to the parmigiano reggiano cheese factory. Our tour guide was a British lady. She pronounced everything very well, and it seemed like she had textbook language. It was really cool to listen to, and it was cool to meet a British-Italian. One of the first things she told us when she got on the bus was to "Never call this cheese parmesan cheese. Kraft can make that out of cardboard in Chicago." I knew that I was going to like her from that point on, and she made the tour very entertaining. When we got to the factory, we first had to put on some "sanitary outfits" that included a hair net, mask, a plastic hospital-like gown, and booties for our shoes. We then went into the factory where three men were working on pulling the cheese curds from the bottom of the vats. The tour guide explained that the milk comes in every night, and it is
kept in different areas to represent where the milk was supplied from. The milk then undergoes a series of processes, all natural, and it is transferred to large vats. The curds then settle to the bottom, and the whey rises to the top. The men then exert a massive amount of strength and bring the curds up from the bottom, suspend the curds, and then cut it in half. Each vat provides two wheels of cheese in the final process. After the whey is drained to be used for the next day (it jump starts the fermenting process and cuts the time down), the cheese is transferred to a container that is meant to drain the liquid off of it. Then the cheese is put into wooden crates in order to relax the cheese. It is then stamped with the authentic parmigiano reggiano stamp and is rounded metal cases. After it has taken the shape of the metal container, it is sent to be soaked in a bath of salt. The salt works its way into the cheese and helps preserve
the cheese for years. The cheese is then moved to a library of cheese (that's what I call it) that has rows and rows and columns and columns of cheese. That cheese is sorted by year and must be moved every day in order to ensure no moisture build up that may spoil the cheese. Every wheel of cheese is checked to see if it is good or bad cheese. If it is bad, strike marks are put through the parmigiano reggiano stamp to ensure that no one uses the bad cheese. The cheese is then aged from 12 to 36 months and the cheese becomes sharper the longer it is aged. When eating parmigiano reggiano, it is important that the cheese is gouged out, not peeled. It is also interesting to note that if you smell the cheese, it smells like pineapple if it's good cheese. If it is bad cheese, then it smells of "urine soaked hay" according to our tour guide. We all got to try this cheese and then bought our share of it. I bought
a half-kilo of 26 month cheese for mom and dad.
When then stayed with our tour guide and traveled to the prosciutto ham factory. On the way to the factory, we saw absolutely stunning views of Tuscany hills and valleys and mountains. This was another one of the amazing God moments for me. I just could not believe the beautiful scenes that I was seeing. We also saw a castle on the way there. I'm not positive about the name of the castle, but I think it was something like the Torrechiara castle. The prosciutto ham factory was in the mountain area of Parma and seemed more like a house than a factory to me. The most surprising thing about the ham to me was that it was not cooked. Most of the forms of ham in Italy are raw ham. It's prepared so well, that the raw ham is safe to eat and according to many different sources, it is really good meat. We saw the many different rooms that the ham is stored
in and how they prepare the ham to be eaten. After the tour of the prosciutto ham factory, they had a table full of samples for us to try. I felt kind of bad for not eating some of the meat, but they had some cheese out too, so I ate some of that in order to be polite. The cheese was very good though.
After the prosciutto ham factory, we traveled to a winery for lunch. This was the first time I had any wine. They served two kinds of wine, a white wine and a red wine. Both of the wines were carbonated, which I found strange. I tried both of the wines, and decided that wine was not one the things I would be indulging in. I ended up giving my wine to Dr. Sabo, and he graciously finished it for me so that it appeared as though I drank it. The meal consisted of prosciutto ham (I passed this to many people), artichoke, peppers, and bread and jam. The meal was really good; it just wasn't a lot of food for me. I did learn that the jam was actually really good on the parmigiano reggiano. That was a discovery that I did not expect to turn out well, but it most certainly did. After we finished lunch, they gave us a tour of the winery to show us where they make, store,
and bottle the wine. We actually got to watch them bottle the wine. It was interesting to see.
The next place we went was the balsamic vinegar place. I hesitate to use the word "factory" for the balsamic vinegar due to the fact that it was in a house and it didn't seem big enough to be called a factory. This was actually one of my favorite factory-like places that we went. Davido, the man that gave us the tour explained that the grapes are put into a large barrel, and as the grapes ferment, the resulting liquid is moved into smaller and smaller barrels, through at least five different barrels. He also said that only certain wood can be used for the barrels and they used mulberry, mahogany, and cherry tree wood for their barrels. The longer the balsamic vinegar is aged, the sweeter it becomes. After he showed us the rooms with the barrels in them, he took us for a tasting. Davido had us taste the industrial (imitator) balsamic vinegar first. It was disgusting. I
had to turn away because of the face that I was making. Unfortunately, the direction I turned was where Dr. Sabo was and he could not stop laughing at my reaction. Dr. Sabo then made a point of getting my reaction to the rest of the samples on camera. Lucky for me, I liked the rest of the samples. After the industrial sample, we tried the balsamic vinegar that they made there. We had four year, twelve year, and 30 year. My favorite ones were four year and 30 year. The 30 year was really expensive though, so I bought some of the four year to take home to mom and dad. After we tasted all of the different years of balsamic vinegar, we tried it on top of ice cream. While this doesn't sound like a very good combination, it was quite possibly one of my favorite things I had in Italy. It was absolutely delightful. So much so that I made my parents try it when I got back. They thought it was delicious too.
From the balsamic vinegar place, we drove through the Alpine mountains to Florence. It was another beautiful trip. We had to go through many tunnels and over many bridges on our way there. It was interesting to see the difference between how we approach mountain roads and how Italy approached mountain roads. I got to do a little bird watching in on the way to Florence though, which was nice. I saw Magpies, Jackdaws, some kind of hawk, European Starlings, and Chickens. I also saw some deer, a rabbit, dogs and a cat.
Once we got to Florence, we moved into our rooms (I was roomed with Lizzie) briefly and then headed out into Florence for dinner. We ended up walking to the Piazza Duomo. This had the fourth largest cathedral in the world, with the largest dome in the world. As weapproached the Duomo, there were many awestruck faces and comments such as "That doesn't look real." "It's so ornate that it looks like a cardboard prop." It was truly one of the most ornate and beautiful buildings that I have ever seen on the outside. Once we got to the main square area of Florence with the Duomo, we split up into groups for dinner. The group that I was in included Quinn, Zach, Danielle, Crystal, Lizzie, Dustin, Jarrett, Michelle, Lori, and Claire. We walked down one of the main streets to see what our options
were, and we were immediately bombarded by salesmen at different restaurants, all of which had a "special deal" for American students. I felt slightly discouraged that we didn't even need to speak for them to be able to tell that we were American. It was impressive on their part, but made me feel kind of disgusting and embarrassed. There are so many things that America does that I would not like to be associated with, and the fact that they could tell we were from the US so quickly made me feel like I was directly connected to all of those things I would rather not be associated with. It also happened to be "Ladies Day" in Italy the day before, and there were bouquets of flowers called mimosa that men were buying and selling the day before. While we were trying to find a place to eat, a man came up and handed a couple of the girls in our group (including me) some bouquets that I'm guessing
were leftovers from yesterday. It was still very kind of the man to do this, and they were very nice flowers. Anyway, back to dinner. Once we walked down the whole street and heard every offer, we decided to go to a place that said we could have a meal, drink, and dessert for 10 Euros. The thing about money in Italy was that I was expecting everything to seem really cheap because Euros are less in value to dollars, but everything still seemed really expensive, and so it was even more expensive in dollar amounts. Anyway, the place that we went seemed really small from the outside, but when they saw how big of a group we were, the led us upstairs and through a maze-like area to a large room for us to eat in on our own. It was a very nice room and incredibly kind of them to do this for us. Michelle and I ended up splitting a four fomaggio (cheese) calzone, water, and tiramisu. The calzone was pretty good, although it was
nothing like calzones in America. It had relatively thin crust and not a whole lot of filling in it, but I was still very satisfied after the meal. Michelle had most of the tiramisu because I really wanted to try gelato later. So, after dinner we went to a place right next to where we ate and I got a nutella gelato. It was absolutely amazing. That was the best gelato that I had the entire time we were there.
While we were at the restaurant for dinner, the waiter, Emilio, came and invited us to his friends bar for free shots. I definitely did not want to go just because bars and alcohol are two of my least favorite things. However, a large majority of the group did want to go, just to check it out and see if the bar was any good. So, our group split up after dinner and Claire, Dustin, Danielle and I walked back to the hotel. Our hotel, the Internet hotel, was also very different than standard American hotels. This one was broken up into two separate rooms. One room had a twin bed and a dresser, the other room had a king bed and a wardrobe. Lizzie took the single, so I got the king bed to myself for three nights. That was very nice. The bathroom was very similar to the other hotels', it was small, and the shower was really small, but there was one addition. This bathroom had a bidet. As Carrie
said, "You use the toilet, you laugh at the bidet." I don't really understand bidets at all, but they were in every place that we stayed in after Florence. I then went to sleep so I could have great fun the next day as well. It was a packed and fun-filled day!
Day 4: Florence
Breakfast on day four was at 7:30 in the morning, which due to jet lag, felt like 1:30 a.m. Despite the fact that I was still dead tired, continental breakfast at the hotel was still quite delicious. I had a chocolate filled croissant (although it tasted more like a chocolate pudding filled croissant), and apricot pastry and nutella. Nutella is everywhere in Italy and it is so delectable. That is definitely something that I wish was more abundant in the US. After breakfast we received our evil "Whispers" from Giorgio. The whisper was a system were the leader had a microphone piece and everyone in the group had an earphone, so that we could hear whatever the tour guide was saying without being close to them. The reason the whispers were evil was because they were pretty big and obnoxious as well as completely ridiculous looking. We had to carry them around with us a
lot, so no one liked them by the second day of using the whispers.
We walked as a group to the Piazza Duomo again, and were then given some free time to walk around and explore. The group that I was with for the explore time was Jarrett, Michelle, Lori, and Dustin. We decided that we wanted to go around the entire cathedral to see its' majesty from all sides. This cathedral was AMAZING! It was made entirely out of marble, (red, green, and white marble), besides the roof, which still used tiles. After circling around the cathedral, we decided to just walk around and see what we could find. Florence was so cool because every corner we turned held some kind of beautiful and historical surprise. There were bell towers everywhere, places that looked like fortresses, museums, special government buildings, arches, and statues. We ended up finding a square that had statues all over the place. Some of the statues included the fake David, Hercules, Poseidon, Persius holding
Medusa's head, and a couple others. It was a really cool square-like place. On our way back to meet our group for our guided tour of Florence, we passed a Disney store. I seemed so out of place to me, it was strange.
We met with the group back in front of the cathedral, and we met our tour guide, Alessandra. She told us about some of the history of the cathedral while we waited for it to open, and while she was talking, it began to snow. It was so cold! We finally got to go inside the cathedral on the tour. It was really cool. There was a clock in the cathedral that went counter-clockwise and started at the Roman numeral I and went to XIV for all the hours in the day. That was very interesting to see. I don't know if it was a functioning clock, but it was in use at some point, and that what made it truly fascinating. The floor in the cathedral was also made out of marble, and hidden every so often, was the Medici family crest. The Medici family was incredibly wealthy and helped build a lot of Italy. The crest was absolutely everywhere! Once it was pointed out, you noticed it around every corner. We
also saw a painting of Dante with his depiction of Hell, purgatory, and Heaven. I thought it was interesting that right next to Heaven, there was a depiction of Florence. Florence must have meant a lot to him. Dante's Inferno was a huge theme in Italy. It was depicted in art and in cathedrals all over the place. My favorite part of the cathedral was the painting on the dome. The painting had scenes depicting Dante's Inferno on the entire thing. The edges of the dome were scenes from Hell, and the closer to the center of the dome, the closer to God. There was a banner that read "Ecce homo INRI," (Look, the same Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews). I thought it was really cool that I could read what it said. Latin came in handy for the first time since I have taken it.
After we finished in the cathedral, Alessandra took us to an old bridge that has a market place on the bridge. I don't remember what the bridge was called, but it had a pretty view and it was cool to see a market along a bridge. We didn't stay there long though because the wind waspretty horrible and it was really cold. After the bridge, we went to the statue area that our group had found during free time. Alessandra explained some of the statues and the stories behind the statues while we were there. We also saw a movie being filmed in the square. I'll have to pay attention and see if I can recognize that place and any movies that are coming out. One of the statues that Alessandra explained was of a women being kidnapped to be rapped. This did not mean the same thing during the time of the statue
as it does now. That practice was rather commonplace and the women would often marry the men that captured them to begin with. It thought that was strange, but it was a beautiful statue.
After the tour was over, we went to a leather shop for a leather demonstration. This wasn't one of my favorite things. The only thing that really happened was that the demonstrator told us how to tell the difference between pleather and real leather. Since I do not intend on buying anything leather, that information was rather useless to me. After the talk, he took us into the shop so that we could buy something if we wanted to. I looked around for a little bit, but everything was SO expensive. I found a rack that had stuff for sale and even a pair of ugly light blue leather pants cost 100 Euros. The regular priced items were around 500 Euros. They had ridiculous prices in my opinion.
After the leather demonstration, we had free time in Florence. I went with Jarrett, Michelle, Lori, Dustin, Claire, Crystal, and Lizzie to a pizza place. I ordered a slice of margarita pizza and a coke. I usually don't drink very much soda, but I was curious to see if the soda tasted any different. It actually tasted much better than in the States, and we figured out that it was because they used real sugar in the drinks rather than the icky high fructose corn syrup that's used in the US. Another interesting tid-bit about the soda was that it came in a tall, skinny can. As Jarrett said, "The cans in America are short and fat, just like the people." This is remarkable true. I don't recall seeing very many large people, but upon returning to the States, I immediately noticed that people were much bigger in the US than they were in Italy.
After we finished eating, the same group went to the Academia so that we could see Michelangelo's David. There was absolutely no line for the museum, which was really nice. We had to go through metal detectors, pay, and then we were in the museum in a matter of minutes. There were so many painting depicting the annunciation, it was kind of overwhelming. Every piece of art seemed to be religiously based. This was so fascinating to me because I love studying religion. Right before the trip, one of my religious courses just covered the concept of Gnosticism, and I saw an incredibly amount of Gnostic ideas in the art in the museum. Gnosticism focuses on the idea that Jesus was not human at all, that he descended from Heaven and ascended back to Heaven without becoming truly human. They believe that Jesus was merely taking the form of a human while remaining thoroughly divine. Light also plays a major role
in Gnosticism, and light was used a lot in the paintings in the museum. This was one of the places that we could not take pictures, so I can't show you what I mean, but light was an important aspect in the paintings. As Catholicism is the country's main religion, the art was also focused around Catholic ideals. I am not Catholic, and so I wasn't sure about all of the beliefs of the Catholics, so I walked around the museum with Jarrett (he is a Catholic) and asked him questions about how the paintings related to the Catholic beliefs. I learned a lot about Catholicism during this visit. I learned about how the Catholics view Mary. They saw her as completely innocent and the Doctrine of Immaculate Conception (which I thought referred to Jesus initially) actually refers to Mary. In order for Jesus to have a pure and innocent birth, Mary must have also been innocent. They also believe that Mary never
actually died, but rather, she was taken into Heaven when it was her time. I also learned about the view Catholics have in accordance to the Saints. I never fully understood why the Catholics prayed to Saints before, it always seemed like they worshiped the Saints. But Jarrett explained that when a Catholic goes through confirmation, they learn all about the Saints and they pick a Saint that they feel they can relate too. Once they pick a Saint, it's almost as though that Saint becomes one of their friends, and they often ask their Saints to pray on their behalf, just as if you were to ask a friend to pray for you. My favorite part of the museum was the statue of David. The way he was presented was phenomenal. As you walk into the room that David was in, there are unfinished statues of Michelangelo's lining the walls and at the end of the chamber stands David. The intricacy of David's face
was astounding. I felt as though I could see and fell the anxiety and anguish that he was feeling because of the expression on his face. It was a truly masterful piece of art.
Once we finished in the Academia, our group split up and the group I was in (Claire, Lori, Jarrett, Michelle, and Dustin) decided to go back to the main cathedral so that we could climb to the top of the dome and see the city from up there. This journey took 463 stairs to get to the top through dizzying spiral staircases, and areas that seemed way too small for the amount of people that were in the corridors. The dome of the cathedral was a double-layered dome. The inside dome is the dome with the painting on it, and the outside dome is for protection and stability. We ended up walking in between the two domes to get to the top. It was so cool, although claustrophobic people would not have enjoyed the walk to the top at all. There was graffiti all over the walls, and while I didn't pay much attention to it, Claire took several pictures of things she thought
were funny or inspiring or sad and showed them to us later. One of my favorite ones that she got was of a sign that said "Do not write on the walls" with writing all around and on the sign itself. I love ironic pictures. J Once we finally got to the top, the view of the city was absolutely breath-taking. I couldn't stop taking pictures because it was so beautiful. I love heights, so I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, but anyone who has a fear of heights, I'm sure would disagree with me greatly on how wonderful the experience was. So if your claustrophobic or have a fear of heights, climbing the dome is not something you would want to do in Florence.
Gelato was the next stop after the dome. We walked around for a while so that we could find a gelato place that had seats for us to sit down. We finally found one, and I got some chocolate gelato. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate ice cream, but this gelato was amazing. We all tried each others' gelato so that we could get a wide range of experiences on the gelato front. My favorite was probably the chocolate chip, although they had a very different name for it in Italy. While we were at the gelato place, we started having a discussion about rolling our "rs." I, for one, cannot roll my rs and have never been able to. So, I started to try with tips from several of my classmates, and I continued to make a fool out of myself for the rest of the trip while I was trying to master the art. On the bright side, I was very entertaining to everyone else, and there's even a video of me trying
on Facebook now. I did get a lot better during the trip, but I'm still not quite there. I practiced incessantly during the trip though, and Crystal kept referring to me as a pigeon because of it.
We then went back to the hotel to meet up with the rest of the group for dinner. While we waited, we played more bananagrams. Dinner was a classic Italian slow food dinner. When they say "slow food" they mean it. This meal was three hours long. It was absolutely delicious though. The first course was prosciutto ham, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and bread. The mozzarella cheese was some of the most wonderful cheese I have had. I ate quite a lot of the cheese, bread and lettuce for this course. Once again, I pawned off my meat to others. This time I gave most of it to Katie. The second course was a vegetable soup, bean and potato soup, ravioli, wild boar pasta, and wild boar ziti. I, obviously, only had the meatless items and they were absolutely delicious. The third course was entirely meat: rabbit, steak, pork, chicken, and veal. The last course (and
my personal favorite) was dessert. They brought a variety of desserts out on a platter, so we all split each dessert so we could taste everyone. The desserts included a fruit pastry, a kind of boston crème pie, Italian dessert of some kind, chocolate covered crème puffs, and a nut-lemon bar. They also brought out a "dessert wine" and some cookie-like biscuits to dip into the wine. It didn't care for that very much. They served four kinds of wine during the meal- I tried all of them, but I only liked the dessert wine at the end. Despite the fact that I like the last wine, I still only had half of a glass. I just didn't feel comfortable drinking more, so I gave it to Dustin as he really like the dessert wine. Thus closes yet another fantastic and one of my favorite days of the trip.
Day 5: Florence
We were still at the Internet Hotel, and we met for breakfast at 7:30 once again. Jet lag still stinks, but it was getting more bearable by this point. Breakfast was similar to what I had the other mornings, although I had a vanilla croissant and some nutella. After breakfast, we walked through Florence to where the vans picked us up to go to the olive oil, winery, and cooking lesson areas. We were split up into two vans, and on the way there, the van I was in sang songs the entire ride. It was great fun! While we weren't singing, I was trying to roll my rs again. I improved a lot; I felt so close to getting it! The place that we arrived at was a beautiful mansion. The mansion was on the grounds of where the olive oil is produced as well as some wine. We got a short tour of the area and got to see the machines and pots that are used in the olive oil making process. My
favorite machine was only described. They said that there was a tool that had plastic clappers on a long stick that was used to knock the olives off of the tree. This tool sounded like a lot of fun to use. I thought it was interesting that olive oil, once the olives have been picked, only takes a couple hours to make the olive oil. Of course, it ages after that, but to get the original olive oil is a much faster process than I had anticipated. The winery aspect was relatively similar to the only winery that we toured, although I think this one was nicer. I liked that they used wood barrels to hold the wine rather than metal like the other winery. This winery also did non-carbonated wine, and I liked that better to start with.
We then went to a part of the mansion for the wine tasting and olive oil tasting. I was so excited to go into a warm room, and it was cold. So disappointing. We tried a total of four wines, each aged differently and prepared slightly differently in order to get the different tastes. Personally, I could only taste the alcohol, which is not pleasant to me, so I did not enjoy the bouquet of flavors of which the man was speaking. I did like the last wine alright. It was the dessert wine and it had been aged for nine years. You couldn't taste the alcohol as much in that one, so I actually finished that sample. The olive oil, on the other hand was absolutely AMAZING. I've never had such wonderful tasting olive oil. I think I ate five pieces of bread with the olive oil
on it. They also put a little salt on the bread, and that made it even more delectable. I bought some to take back home to my parents.
We then rode into the mountain, far-countryside of Tuscany for our cooking lesson. The group that I cooked with was Michelle, Katie, Mrs. Sabo, Quinn, Jarrett, Crystal, and Lizzie. Our instructors name was Alex, and he was more American than he was Italian, but he definitely knew how to cook. It was kind of a small world experience because he has family in Wilmington, NC. So strange to think connections like that can happen across countries so easily. Anyhow, he was teaching us how to make ravioli from scratch. It was super cool to learn how to make something so amazingly delicious out of flour and an egg to start with. It was so cool to learn something like that. It was a new experience for me, and I really enjoyed it. I got a lot out of the experience and I could really appreciate the food because I knew all the work that went into making it.
After the awesome cooking lesson and the resulting fantastic meal, we had free time in Florence. The group I was with this time was Michelle, Lizzie, Crystal, Jarrett, and Dustin. We mainly just walked around and looked at stuff. We also got some more gelato, and I got strawberry this time. After the delicious stop, we went back to the hotel and played some more bananagrams. Some very friendly Canadians, named Tim and Michelle, joined us for a couple rounds. Some of the best words were lavender (Dustin), droid (mine), shrew (mine), justice (Jarrett), and flotsam (Jarrett).
We were near a lot of water on this day as the drive to the cooking lesson was along the river. Due to this, I got to see some pretty awesome birds. Unfortunately, it was incredibly difficult to identify some of them from the distance in the van. I did get to identify some Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorant, ducks of some kind, rock doves, European Starlings, and House/English Sparrows. On to yet another amazing day…
Day 6: Sienna and San Gimignano
Breakfast was still at the Internet Hotel at 7:30 in the morning. I had a powdered croissant and nutella for breakfast. We then set off for Sienna. The drive there was pretty fun, Jarrett, Michelle, Zach and I had a Disney music marathon on the way there. We listened and sang along with Hercules, Aladdin, and Little Mermaid. It was pretty epic. We made it to Sienna and we immediately went to meet our tour director. It was very cold and was snowing rather heavily while we were there. It was REALLY hilly in Sienna, and all of the downhill areas made my tendinitis flare up, so that was unfortunate.
My favorite part of Sienna was the cathedral there. That cathedral was the second largest in the world. It was not quite as ornate on the outside as the one in Florence, but it was still beautiful. The inside of that cathedral was the absolutely stunning part. There were columns that had horizontal stripes on them, which sounds as though it would be tacky, but in this church, it was one of the most beautiful things that I had seen. There were also four original Michelangelo statues in the cathedral in Sienna. He was supposed to carve 14 statues, but he was paid in advance, so he finished four statues, and then went back to Florence and created David. When he was older, he realized that he never finished the statues, and he wrote a letter apologizing for not finishing. He didn't send the money back though, just sent the letter. I found that to be very interesting. The floor was also super cool. It
was all marble and there were scenes depicted all over the floor with many different kinds and colors. It was stunning. There was also a room in the cathedral that you weren't allowed to stand in, you could walk through it, but you weren't allowed to stand due to the fact that the breathing from people could damage the paintings in the room. This room was so vibrant in the colors because there had never been any candles burned in the room and people did not use the room, so the paint was still close to its original color.
The other cool thing about Sienna was the horse racing ceremony that happened yearly. It sounded absolutely insane and awesome at the same time. The tour guide said that everyone in Sienna behaves the whole year so they won't have to during the horse race. The jockeys are not allowed to be from Sienna, and the winner of the race has to pay, but they are praised as a hero for three months after this, and they get some prizes. If the jockey loses the race, they are paid. This is to ensure participation of jockeys in previous years. It seems backwards, but from the way she described it, it seemed like a crazy awesome event. It also sounded incredibly violent, as she said jockeys end up in the hospital almost every year from falling of the horse on to the bricks, or being hit by other jockeys, or being beaten by a family that beat on them to win and they did not win. Once again it sounds like an epic event,
but not one that I would struggle to be part of.
After the tour of Sienna, we had some free time, so I went with Zach, Quinn, Claire, Jarrett, Michelle, and Dustin to a nice restaurant. Michelle and I split a four formaggio pizza and some hot chocolate. The pizza was the best pizza that I have ever had. The hot chocolate was also the best that I had ever had. It was really thick, almost like drinking chocolate syrup, except a little thicker and much more delicious. We still had quite a bit of time after eating, so we went to a free museum in Sienna. There was some beautiful artwork. It was incredibly striking. One of my favorite pieces of artwork was of a boy with a violin. There were some script words in the background. I don't know why I was so drawn to this painting, but I felt like I could connect with the boy for some reason. He seemed so real. The last thing that we did in Sienna was to taste the fried and sugared rice that was
exclusive to Sienna. It was actually very delicious, kind of tasted like a doughnut.
The next place was San Gimignano. There really wasn't much in the town itself, although it was a beautiful and very old looking town. The only things that it really had were two torture museums. I did not really enjoy the torture museums because I do not enjoy seeing the capacity the humans have when it comes to aggression, violence, and hatred. I don't like seeing other people in pain, or thinking about other people being in pain. I'm a pacifist on so many levels. I ended up going because I didn't think there was anything else to do, and I was assured by Michelle and Jarrett that they would help me through the museums if there was something that I shouldn't look at if it was too gruesome for me.
We then went to a resort in the middle of nowhere beautiful picturesque country side and stayed there for a night. It was the most beautiful place that we stayed at. It was so incredibly beautiful, it's much too difficult to describe. I roomed with Danielle and Claire that night. We had a huge suite to ourselves with a full shower bathroom, living room, and bedroom. We had a minor party in our room that night and we played bananagrams and talked a lot. Dr. Sabo and Giorgio also came by at one point and said they would give 10 Euros to the first person to jump into the pool. This created quite a bit of mayhem, but no one actually jumped in the pool (thank goodness, it would have caused hypothermia instantly). It was a crazy and fun night; I wish we had stayed there for more than one night. The only new birds that I saw were a Rook and a Blackbird. That
was very exciting.
Day 7: Perugia, Civita di Bagnoregio, and Rome
Breakfast at the resort was fresh fruit, nutella, and a powdered croissant. We left from the resort very early and we were off to the chocolate factory. We stopped by a chocolate factory on our way to Rome, and I was really disappointed with this factory. It wasn't what I was expecting at all. All we really did was walk over a factory that didn't have very many workers because the public transportation people were striking that day. While the chocolate factory could have been better, but we still got free chocolate out of it, so that was nice.
After the chocolate factory, we went to Civita di Bagnoregio. When we got there we had to walk through a town and down a bunch of hills and across this massive bridge/walkway to get to the city. It was absolutely gorgeous though. It was crazy! There was canyon and grassy mountains all around and then BOOM- city on a hill. It was such a crazy place for a city. The population in the city was only 12 people (and about 20 cats). It's called the dying city because of this. Despite the fact that Civita di Bagnoregio is a dying city, it was very beautiful and well worth the hike. Dustin, Michelle, Jarrett and I found a place to eat where the lady spoke only Italian and the menu was in all Italian. Luckily, Giorgio was there too, so he helped me order something without any meat. I ended up getting a delicious noodles and mushroom dish. It was one of
my favorite dishes that I had while we were in Italy. We didn't have very much time in the city, so after we ate, we had to leave. The walk down the hill killed my knees. It hurt so bad that I had to have support in order to walk. It was still well worth the pain.
On to ROME!!! This was one of my absolute favorite parts of the trip. I loved all of the amazing historical monuments and buildings everywhere in Rome. Once we got to the hotel in Rome, we had free time. I started out in a group of 10 people and that was way too much, we kept arguing about what to do, and so Zach was amazing and he had us split into two groups: a really hungry, want to eat NOW group and a fascinated in the historical things that are everywhere want to see as much as possible group. I was in the latter and so were Zach, Quinn, Jarrett, and Michelle. This group ended up going to the Colosseum first which was fantastic! It was everything I ever imagined it to be. We didn't get to go inside that night, but we were going the next day. The second place we went was the Vittorio
Emanuele II monument, which is considered by many Romans to be ugly, mostly because it is a more modern building, and in contrast with the historical buildings, it may seem like a smudge to some. I, however, thought that it was cool. It had a lot of carvings in it that were pretty cool. The guy that this was named after was the first king of the unified Italy. The next place we went was the Trevi Fountain. This was the most unbelievable fountain I have ever seen and will ever see. The carvings were so intricate and so beautiful, it was a surreal experience. Supposedly, if you throw a coin from your right hand over your left shoulder and don't turn around, then you will return to Rome someday.
Unfortunately, none of us knew this before we threw in our coins, and Jarrett was the only one that actually threw the coin in correctly. Jarrett then told
us some mythology stories about the gods that were in the fountain. They were really cool stories. While we were listening to Jarrett tell the stories, a pushy flower guy came up and shoved flowers in Michelle's and my hand and then proceeded to ask Jarrett, Quinn, and Zach for money. Michelle and I tried to give the flowers back, and we finally succeeded, but it took about 10 minutes for us to finally get him to take them back. These "flower guys" were everywhere and they attacked us every tourist stop that we made. It was really annoying. After the Trevi Fountain, we walked to the Spanish Steps and walked up the steps to take some pictures. It was pretty cool, although not quite as cool as the other places were. After the Spanish Steps, we decided to eat, and we were trying to find an authentic Italian restaurant, not a tourist trap. So we walked off the beaten path for a while and
we finally found a restaurant that had great food, but bad service. It seemed like they had a grudge against Americans for some reason. But the food was amazing! I had gnocchi, which was a delicious pasta dish with tomato and cheese sauce. This and the meal in the Civita di Bagnoregio were my favorite things that I ate while we were in Italy (besides all of the desserts). After we ate, we walked over to the Piazza Navona which was an open square with a bunch of fountains. It was really pretty, but nothing compared to the Trevi Fountain. We walked through this area, and then we got sufficiently lost. At this point I'm going to say that I was in charge of the map and I got us to this point without getting lost, which was an incredible achievement in my opinion. The map we had was also not a very good map, hardly any of the roads were labeled and the road system in Rome was not very well labeled. After
we got lost the first time, I got us back on track and we made it to the Pantheon. This was really cool, although some of the awesomeness was taken away because there were scaffoldings covering half of the building. We got lost again saw some hookers and homeless people in a dark alley and the map was taken away from me at this point. Now Zach was in charge of the map and we ended up walking in circles and ended up back at the Pantheon two other times. I then took the map back, and we finally found something that we recognized and made it back to the Colosseum. The park that we walked through on the way there was closed, so we had to find another way to get back to the hotel. We finally got back to the hotel around 1:30 in the morning. It was an amazing night and one of my favorite nights that we had in Italy.
Day 8: Rome
Breakfast at the hotel was very similar to the continental breakfasts at other hotels. I had a croissant and nutella again. That morning we went to Vatican City. This was so unbelievable I don't think I can put into words. Nothing I say will even come close to doing what we saw justice. We had a funny tour guide. She kept calling us her "family" and she would push old people and young people out of her way for us to get through. If we were standing in a group, and someone tried to cut through the group, she would grab them and tell them to go around. She was quite hilarious. The thing that I didn't like about it was that the whole tour was very rushed, we never got to stop and look at anything, and it was a quick walk-through of
the city. While this was probably necessary in order to have seen everything that we did, I wanted more time. Every building in the Vatican is incredibly decorated, and although every surfaced was covered in art, it didn't seem like too much, it seemed appropriate. One of my favorite pieces of art was of an angel and an old man in one of the hallways. The colors were so brilliant, it was unbelievable. The Sistine Chapel was kind of disappointing to me. For some reason, I always imagined the image of Adam and God on a dome, and the Chapel was a relatively small rectangle room. Every surface was covered in paint and it was much brighter than I thought it was going to be. It looked cartoonier than I anticipated and there was so much that it was hard to find Adam and God in the painting. It was still beautiful, but not what I was expecting. My absolute favorite part of Vatican City was St.
Peter's Basilica. This is the largest cathedral in the world and one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen in my life. Art was EVERYWHERE in the cathedral, and our tour guide said that all of the art in the cathedral (besides the sculptures) were mosaics. That was incredible because they all looked like they had been painted. It was such an awe-inspiring place and I felt like I could truly feel God in that place. It was incredible.
We then had lunch in Vatican City, and we ordered from a place without a menu and from a woman who spoke no English. It was quite the experience. It was a delicious cheese, tomato, olive oil, and salt sandwich. I am not a huge sandwich eater, but that was awesome. After lunch, we met with Claudio and drove over to the Colosseum for our tour. This was absolutely incredible. It was so cool to see the Colosseum inside after seeing so many pictures and hearing so much about it. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about the Colosseum. I still don't really understand where all of the seats went when the Colosseum was in use in Roman times, but it was
still cool to hear about the old structure of the Colosseum. I hadn't realized that the Colosseum was mostly buried at one point. I didn't really like the gladiator part of the Colosseum, because, once again, I despise hearing about cruelty to people and to animals. Other than that, the Colosseum was a wonderful experience.
After the Colosseum, we went over to the Forum, which I found to be even more incredible and epic than the Colosseum. I had not heard much about the Forum before the trip to Rome, but it was REALLY cool. It is basically the ruins of the main city area of ancient Rome. Our tour guide from the Colosseum also gave us a tour of the Forum. There were a lot of cool structures and historical things, but my two favorite parts of the Forum was 1) the church with the green doors that were the original doors. It also had purple marble columns, and purple marble was incredibly expensive and rare. I thought that was really cool. 2) The area with the three huge arches in the forum are so massive I could hardly grasp that they built it during Roman times. There were gulls
flying all over Rome and I finally figured out that they were herring gulls, and I was very excited to figure out what they were.
We walked from the Forum to the restaurant that night for dinner. This was supposed to be the pizza-making experience. It was a pretty big disappointment actually. You didn't get to actually make the pizza; you spread out the dough, and then put the toppings on. I didn't even get to do that because our group ran out of time. They also lost my pizza once I ordered it, so I was the last one in the group to get a pizza, and then it wasn't really very good. I wasn't too upset about not being able to make my own pizza since we really weren't making the pizza; it was just putting the toppings on. Dinner was fun though; we had some great conversation during dinner, mostly about mythology on my end of the table. After dinner we had some free time, and Jarrett, Michelle and I got some gelato and then went back to the hotel. We had to get up the
next morning at 3, so sleep was very high on the "to do" list at this point.
Day 9: Travel home from Rome to Frankfurt to Washington DC to Charlotte to Catawba
Wake up call was at 3:15 a.m. I ended up going to sleep around 1:15, so I only ended up getting 2 hours of sleep. We rode from the hotel to the airport, went through security, and played more of the fun travel game of hurry up to wait. The flight from Rome to Frankfurt was short and I felt narcoleptic again as I kept falling in and out of sleep. We played more bananagrams, phase 10, ERS, and peanuts in the airport in Frankfurt. The flight from Frankfurt to Washington D.C. was REALLY long. It was about 9 and a half hour. It probably wouldn't have been so bad except for the fact that there were obnoxious German teenagers that were constantly hitting my seat and were really loud and completely disregarded the fact that there were other people on the plane. Because of that, I only got about an hour of sleep on the flight. I watched Old Dogs, which was not a very good movie, and then I talked to Lizzie for
some of the trip. Customs in the US was a pain to go through; it was a lot of forms and answering questions. The US seems so stuck up when you come into it. We then had a slight delay in Washington D.C. and we finally got back to Catawba after 26 hours of traveling. I did not want to come back.
IT WAS AN AMAZING, EPIC, FANTASTIC, BLOW-YOUR-MIND TRIP TO ITALY!
Although it may seem rather cliché, the food that requires cooking in my family that means the most to us is apple pie (I specify "requires cooking" because cookie dough is actually the most important food in our family, but that's a different story). This tradition started around 11 years ago. Kai, my brother, and I have the same birthday, and as such, we have two dessert items in order to celebrate our birthdays. Over the years, we had tried several cakes, brownies, pies and cookies on our birthday (and strangely enough, we always picked the same dessert), but none of the desserts ever stuck from year to year. One year, on my eighth birthday (and Kai's tenth), we decided that we wanted to have apple pie. The only problem was, we didn't have a recipe for apple pie. My mom then set out on a mission to find an apple pie recipe to make, as she refused
to have store bought desserts to celebrate our birthdays. Eventually, a co-worker suggested one of her recipes, and coupled with my mom's never-fail-pie crust, the combination was perfect. Ever since that eighth birthday, I have had that apple pie to celebrate every following year.
The pie-crust, appropriately named "never-fail pie crust" is also an important food tradition for our family. My mom has spent years upon years testing and perfecting the pie crust that goes into our apple pies, pumpkin pies, blueberry pies, and peanut butter pies. This is my favorite part of the pie, which is generally contrary to popular taste, as the filling is generally preferred. The crust, to me and my family, makes or breaks the pie. The great thing about my mom's crust is that, when you're making it, the more it falls apart and appears to fail, the flakier the crust becomes, and the better the finished product. There is a secret to this never-fail pie crust that makes it the perfect pie crust and one that is going to remain a family secret. Without the never-fail pie crust, the apple pie would not be the staple birthday treat that it has become in our family.
The pie has more meaning that apple slices, pie crust, and cinnamon mixture. The pie brings memories of 11 birthdays for me as well as 11 birthdays for my brother every time we have another slice. The pie will forever connect me to my brother and to my parents in a way that nothing other than a family tradition can accomplish.
Apple Pie with crumb topping
4 or 5 Peeled sliced cooking apples (Gala, Rome... NOT delicious)
3/4 c. Sugar
1 t. Cinnamon
3 T. Minute Tapioca
1 Unbaked Pie Shell
- Mix all blue ingredients.
- Pour into unbaked pie shell.
- Top with Crumb Topping.
- 2 1/2 T.Butter (softened)
- 1/3 c. Brown Sugar
- 1/4 c. Flour
- 1/2 t. Cinnamon
- Cut together with knife to mix.
- Spread on top of apples. It will not completely cover the top.
- Bake 350° for 45 minutes or until starting to bubble around the edge.
- Don't forget the crust protector!
Never Fail Pie Crust
For top and bottom OR 2 bottom crusts:
- 3 c. Flour
- 1/2 t. Baking Powder
- 1 1/4 c. Shortening
- 1 t. Salt
- 5 T. Water (COLD - I like to put H2O in a cup with ice & measure out of that)
- 1 Egg
- 1 T. Vinegar
- Sift flour & baking powder.
- Cut in shortening.
- In another bowl: Mix the green ingredients.
- Add the green ingredients to the other mixture.
You're ready to roll!
~ 40 minutes to mix and roll out
PHOTOS: Food Science Course in Italy