Student Blog: Food Science Course in Italy
lori fraley '11 - Chemistry
"The trip was amazing and full of firsts for me. It was my first time in a foreign country and my first plane ride."
First of all I would like to thank Deborah and Dyke Messinger for financially supporting the honors program. If it had not been for their monetary support I would not have been able to afford this trip.
I would like to thank Dr. Brownlow for allowing me to take only the lab portion of the Eating in the Arts and Sciences class since the classroom portion conflicted with my schedule. If it had not been opened up as a one hour lab I would not have been able to go on this amazing trip.
I would like to thank Mrs. Imblum for spending extra time to not only help with the paperwork but also for giving me travel advice and telling me how to get my passport since I knew nothing about flying or traveling to a foreign country.
I would like to thank Giorgio Osimani for answering everyone's questions and going above and beyond his job as a tour director by giving us his contact information so that if there were any problems we would be able to get into contact with him.
I would like to thank my parents, Von and Cindy Fraley, for giving me spending money to take on the trip and for allowing me to go.
I would like to thank Dr. Sabo for allowing me to take the lab portion of the class without the classroom portion so that I was able to go on this trip and also for spending the time to organize a trip that was designed to fit with the class rather than just taking us on one of the standard tours. He let us make suggestions for the trip and have free time to explore the country on our own which allowed us to immerse ourselves in the culture rather than just follow around tour guides the entire time.
Without the support of the people listed above, I would not have been able to go on the trip to Italy. This experience was completely different from any other trip I had ever been on because I not only flew for the first time, but I also traveled to a foreign country for the first time. It was amazing to be able to learn about the culture of Italy by experiencing it firsthand. What I learned had a much more memorable impact on me than anything I would have been able to learn in a classroom. Being surrounded by the art, architecture, language, and cuisine of the country was absolutely amazing. I had seen pictures of the coliseum in Rome and the David in Florence, but none of the pictures were anything like being there and standing next to the actual work. Pictures cannot do any justice to the historical feeling I got standing inside the coliseum or the perfection of the David. So once again thank you to everyone who made this
Day 1-Saturday, March 6, 2010
Packing was a little bit of a disaster. I felt like I was going to leave something important at home but I kept checking to make sure I was not leaving my passport, cash, or bank card behind. Anything else I should be able to buy when I get there. I had to meet at school to head to the airport at 1:50 PM and we ran into traffic before we even got to Concord. There was a wreck in the median that had both lanes of Interstate 85 slowed to a crawl. I am so excited and nervous at the same time. I know the trip is going to be a lot of fun, but I'm also nervous about the plane ride. This is going to be my first plane ride and going all the way to Munich without stopping is going to be a long ride. That seems to be the way I always do things though. My firsts always seem to be all or nothings. My first rollercoaster was a double
loop coaster that I rode by myself.
The first thing we had to do at the airport was check our baggage. They also gave us our tickets. I'm afraid I'm not doing something right and my bag is going to get lost or I have something in my carry-on baggage that is going to keep me from getting through security. I guess the worst thing that will happen is they might make me throw something away. Going through security was very nerve wracking. I felt like I was in an episode of Seinfeld ordering soup from the soup Nazi. It was a very structured process. Take everything metal off and out of your pockets then put everything on the belt and go through the metal detector when they motion you through. I was worried I was going to make it go off. I had been checking all day to be sure I didn't have my pocket knife because that is normally one of the first things I do in the morning. I wake up and grab my wallet and my pocket knife because living on a farm without
a knife is like being a carpenter without a hammer. I made it through security just fine thank goodness. Now we just have to go to the terminal and wait.
The plane boarded at 5:30 PM and the plane finally left around 6:00 PM. The airplane was huge. It had two seats on each side by the window and then a row down the center with an aisle on both sides with four seats, so altogether there were eight seats in a row. I was in seat 31 F which put me in the center of the center aisle. There were on demand movies, television shows, and music that played on the monitors on the seat in front of us. I can see that planes weren't designed for people with long legs. Once the person in front of me leaned their seat back my knees were against the seat and there was no comfortable place for me to put my feet. Once the guy sitting beside of me found out it was my first plane ride, he said, "Don't worry. What's the worst that can happen?. The worst thing that could possibly happen is we could crash but we would die instantly.". Great!. That is exactly the kind
of reassurance I needed. The sensation of the plane ride wasn't really like anything I had ever experienced before. I don't get motion sickness so I wasn't worried about that, but it did make my head feel a little funny, especially if I leaned forward. I got a little light headed and I had to keep popping my ears. When I was eating, I had to be careful not to lean forward too quickly because it made me light headed. I only got up one time during the flight because I was trying to sleep but that didn't really happen because I was way too cramped. I was able to get a couple of five or ten minute naps, but as I was just starting to get used to the feeling of flying the overhead lights were turned back on. I watched All about Steve and an episode of Two and a Half Men. While we were in the air we were crossing into different time zones and I completely lost track of time. At some point it became Sunday.
Day 2- Sunday, March 7, 2010
After about eight and a half hours and a total of about 30 minutes of sleep, we arrived in Munich, Germany. There was snow on the ground when we landed. I'm a little jealous that it's supposed to be warm at home this week but then again I wouldn't rather be at home. I just wish it could be warmer here. I got my first passport stamp here which made it official that I am actually outside of the United States. The airport was huge, and on the way to the terminal I enjoyed looking at the BMW, Volkswagen, and Audis that they had inside. Then we played Bananagrams in the floor of the airport and we drew a crowd of spectators. People were gathering around to watch us play. I found out that I am terrible at this game just like I am at Scrabble but nonetheless it was a lot of fun. This plane was a lot smaller, but I had a window
seat, 28 F, which made the plane ride a lot easier for me. Since I was able to see out the window, it did not mess with my head and my balance as much. The sensation of moving, but not being able to see where I was going was very strange for me on the first plane. There was more turbulence on this plane, but the turbulence really doesn't bother me. Even though this plane was smaller it wasn't anywhere near full of passengers, and I didn't have anyone beside of me, so I was able to stretch out and have more leg room. Overall this was a much more enjoyable ride for me. The view outside the plane was absolutely amazing. As we flew over the snow covered Alps there aren't really words to describe the beauty, and the pictures don't really do the scene any justice.
Once we landed in Milan, we went and claimed our baggage. It was such a relief to see my bag coming around the corner on the belt. I have heard way too many stories about delayed and lost baggage. I had a change of clothes in my carry on, but I was still worried until I saw my bag in Italy.
From baggage claim we went to meet our tour director Giorgio Osimani. Then all of us piled on a huge tour bus. We will definitely have plenty of leg room while we are on the bus. Most of us were nodding off on the ride to the hotel. Soon we stopped for lunch at an Autogrill which is a common truck stop over here. I ordered a camogli which was a focaccia sandwich with prosciutto and some type of mild white cheese and a Coca-Cola. The Coke over here tastes better than what I can get back home. I looked on the ingredients and as far as I can tell it doesn't have corn syrup in it but instead it has actual sugar. It also seems to be more carbonated which I also like.
We checked into the Tricolore Hotel a little after 4:00 PM. This was definitely interesting because as rooms were being assigned I found out that I was listed as male so they had me in a room with some of the guys. I have never had anyone assume I was a guy before they met me by my name, but I guess there's a first time for everything. Giorgio got everything straightened out pretty quickly and Crystal was put in a room with me. I'm really glad they had an extra room, because it would have been interesting if we would have had to cram more people in one of those rooms. The rooms are not very large but that's what I expected. I also expected small bathrooms and that's what we got. I'm glad we had a shower instead of just a tub, but it was a little challenging when I kept bumping my arms into the shower door. I was glad to get a shower though even though it was small because it
was refreshing after that long plane ride. We went down to eat and this was my first experience with Parma Ham. It seemed strange that it wasn't cooked but I'm one of those people that will try any food once, so of course I tried it. This became one of my favorite foods from Italy. It's a shame we couldn't bring any meat back to America. Everything we had was extremely good and had a much richer flavor than most of the foods I normally eat at home. I can already tell that my typical hurried lunch of Lance crackers is not going to satisfy me once I get back home. We turned in pretty early tonight because after all of the travelling we had been doing, I was pretty exhausted.
Day 3-Monday, March 8, 2010
This morning on the way to the parmigiano reggiano cheese factory Giorgio told us today is Women's Day which is why we were seeing people selling a yellow flower on the side of the road. The flower was called mimosa and it was a feathery bunch of yellow flowers on a plant with a leaf with many small lobes. We got dressed up in plastic outfits, shoe coverings, masks, and hairnets which I thought was pretty ironic since she kept talking about the building not being completely sealed off from the outside. She told us mice and flies were able to get in, yet we had to wear protective clothing. I guess they were worried about our American germs or something. Anyway, the tour was very interesting. We learned about the cheese making process and were able to see the different stages of production. The men were removing the curds from the whey in the large copper pots while we were
there. Then they covered it with a weight to squeeze most of the whey out before it was taken to the back to be but into the wheel mold. She told us that every block of parmigiano regiano is stamped with a mold that goes around the edge of the cheese. One of the parts that I found most interesting was the part about the cows. Since we have cows, of course I was noticing all the dairy farms that lined the roads. She told us that most of the cows used are Friesians because they are the highest milk producers. This makes since because the Friesian is the same cow as the Holstein and in American the Holstein is the most common dairy breed because of its high milk production. She said there was currently being a push toward the historical breed which is the Regiano Rosa which is a red cow.
Then we continued on to the room where the cheese was being floated in a saturated salt water solution. From there the cheese is taken to a room to cure for 12 to 36 months. Finally we were able to taste the cheese. She wanted us to smell it before we ate it. When I did it smelled a lot like pineapple to me. Then when I ate it there was something crunchy inside. She said this was the enzyme that is added at the beginning of the cheese making process. I love strong cheeses so this was another very good food I discovered on the trip and I bought half of a kilogram of the 28 month cheese to take back home.
From here we headed to the Parma ham factory. We got to see the workers trimming fat from the hams which is the back leg of the hog. The most commonly used hog is the White Yorkshire but the historical breed is the Black Belted. The hams have to meet strict fat requirements. They are cured for a total of 6 months and they go through several stages along the way. They are hung vertically after 20 days and trimmed after 40 days then after 120 days they are washed to remove excess salt. Then they are trimmed for a final time and the suino is added which coats the cut side of the meat. The hams have to be inspected before they can be stamped as a true Parma ham. Then we got to taste many different cuts of meat. There was salami, and several types of prosciutto. I liked all of the different types but my favorite was the meat from the neck of the hog. It was the tenderest and I thought
it had the best flavor.
Then we went to the balsamic vinegar plant and learned a little bit about the process of making vinegar. The grape mash is put into a large barrel where it ferments and then after time some of this is moved into the next smaller barrel. There are a total of six barrels in the row and the vinegar has to go through each of these barrels. The vinegar is aged anywhere from 12 to 30 years. They also make a balsamic sauce that ages four years for the Japanese. We got to taste each of the ages of vinegar. It didn't seem at all what I think of as vinegar because the actual vinegar taste was so faint. Most of the flavor that I got was a sweet flavor. In fact, when they served it to us on ice cream I was surprised by how good it tasted. I considered buying some, but it was too expensive. It cost 75 Euros for a 100 milliliter bottle of 30 year old vinegar. I couldn't see putting that much money into something that
may not even make it back safely on the plane.
Then we drove on into Florence for the night and we had free time that night. We checked into the Hotel delle Nazioni. It was a nice hotel with an even smaller shower. The toilet was basically in the shower and the curtain had to lay against the toilet. It was still a shower though so I was satisfied. A group of us went down the street that Giorgio recommended to find something to eat. We kept getting approached by waiters advertising student specials. We finally stopped at a pizzeria where I ordered a prosciutto pizza. It was good, but I haven't gotten used to not having everything on one pizza yet. At home I order everything on my pizza, but it seems here most pizzas on the menu have one to three toppings at the most. We walked around a little while then eventually headed back to the hotel.
Day 4-Tuesday March 9, 2010
This morning we got up at 7:00 and unfortunately it's already snowing off and on. We were supposed to meet our tour guide at 9:40, but we left out early at 8:30 so we had free time between these two times. I walked around with Jarrett, Dustin, Michelle, and Kyra. We just wondered around with no certain direction in mind and ended up finding a lot of statues and pretty architecture everywhere we turned. I am glad I brought a lot of clothes to layer. It is trying to snow and the wind is blowing pretty hard. I wish I had something to cover my face up because as hard as the wind is blowing I knew my face was going to be wind burnt.
After meeting with the tour guide we went inside the cathedral in Florence. It was a breathtaking sight. The art was magnificent. I have never been inside of such a decorated church. The outside of the structure was amazing but the inside was even better. The huge dome had a beautiful mural painted on it. The history was just as interesting. Our tour guide told us that there was a contest held to see who could build the best dome, and the winner turned out to be the man who said he could build a dome without using wood. We also walked by the replica of the David which sits outside while the original is held in the Academia. We also walked out to the Ponte Vecchio. This was one of the few bridges spared during World War II. Supposedly, Hitler directly ordered his troops not to destroy it because he liked the bridge. We ended our tour at a leather
shop where we were told about the steps it takes to make a leather jewelry box. He told us the way to tell if leather was real was to rub together the suede side of the leather and if friction causes it to stick then it is real leather. He also said that the leather smell came from the chemicals that were used to tan the leather and not the actual hide itself. This was something I did not know. Everything in this store was really expensive though, so I didn't buy anything. Those who did buy things had to give the cashier our tour director's name, so I'm guessing EF Tours got some kind of kickback from our purchases. I liked the store, but I felt like we spent a lot of time there. It was really crowded with other students.
Then as a group we traveled to an indoor whole foods market. It was nothing like I had seen in America probably because most Americans are squeamish when it comes to seeing where their food comes from. We saw whole plucked chickens and other animals lying in the showcases. It didn't bother me that much, I guess since I was raised on a farm, but some of the others in our group were disgusted by the scene. We walked a short way from there to a pizzeria and had lunch. I had a large slice of sausage pizza which reminded me a lot of what I would get at home if I ordered a sausage pizza. It was good, but it was greasier than the other pizza I have had here so far.
From there we headed to the Academia and spent 6.50 Euros for admission. We spent several hours in there walking around and looking at the art and statues. The David and several of Michelangelo's unfinished works were kept here. There were a lot of Madonna's and religious art. In another room there were even more busts and statues by different artists. What impressed me the most was the bright colors that stood out of these really old paintings. The golds, blues, and reds were all very vivid. There was also a room dedicated to musical instruments. This was also pretty neat and I saw for the first time a guitar piano. Rather than holding down the strings it had keys that you pressed to change the tension in the strings. I also learned the difference between a piano and a harpsichord. While in a piano the keys are struck by a piano, in a harpsichord the strings are plucked.
Once we saw everything at the museum we went to the dome of the church. We paid 8 Euros to climb the 461 steps of the dome of the church. That seemed expensive at first but the view was absolutely amazing. Once we got out on the roof the wind was blowing pretty hard which made it a little scary. We could walk all the way around the outside of the dome and see across the city. There were red roofed buildings as far as I could see. I don't think I have ever been this high up on the outside of a building before. From here we got by far what I am going to call the best view of Florence. Then we got to walk around the inside of the dome and look at the mural up close.
By this time we had worked up an appetite so we stopped and got gelato on the way back to the hotel. I tried the nocciola gelato. I had no idea what it was because the server didn't speak much English, but it looked good. Then once I got it and tasted it I realized it was hazelnut. It was extremely good. This was the first gelato I had ever had. I normally don't eat much ice cream when it's cold outside but this was so good I could definitely see myself eating this anytime.
After making it back to the hotel we headed out for our slow food meal. It truly was slow food as we were there for about three hours, but I really liked being able to take my time. Being somewhat of a slow eater, it was enjoyable to be able to take my time for a change. The courses just kept coming. We started with Parma ham, then moved on to bread, salami, liver pâté, and a salad with mozzarella. I really liked the liver pâté, this was something else I had never had before. Once I found out it was liver, I knew I would probably like it because I like chicken livers, and liver mush. It was similar to liver mush, but I don't think it had as much bread in it. The next round of food included ravioli, pasta with wild boar sauce, and some type of cooked vegetable dish, and bean soup. Just when I thought that had to have been all of the food,
they brought a huge plate of many kinds of meat including chicken, beef, pork, and rabbit. Then a desert plate came out with several kinds of dissert. There was something like what I would call a desert pizza with strawberries and kiwi, custard filled pastries covered with chocolate, chocolate pie, a nut and powdered sugar dessert, and biscotti with wine to dip it in, and finally a dessert wine. I think I tried a little bit of almost everything. I didn't have anything that I didn't like. Looking back on it I can't believe I ate all of that food. I only tried a little bit of everything, but that is probably the most I have ever eaten in one sitting. The only way I can figure that I was able to eat all of that food was because we were there so long. Heading back to the hotel room I felt so heavy that I didn't know if I was going to be able to climb the stairs. Once I made it back, the food had kicked in and I
got so sleepy that I fell asleep right away.
Day 5-Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I swear the hotel may be trying to cook us to death. Claire and I have searched all around the room trying to find a thermostat or an off switch but haven't found one. We have opened the windows a couple of times to cool it off, but for some reason this morning it was extra hot. I looked at the thermometer on my alarm clock and it said 84oFarenheit. I feel like I'm in my grandma's house. I had what has become my typical breakfast of what has become a piece of the apricot pie, a custard or chocolate filled croissant, and a cup of yogurt. None of the yogurt here has actual fruit in it or at least what I have hasn't. It only has the flavoring. The orange juice here is very different from what I drink at home. It has a much milder and less acidic flavor to it. That is one thing that I don't really care for. I can drink it and it's
pretty good, but I still like my Simply Orange better.
We left out at about 8:30 to meet up with the people from the Accidental Tourist organization. It was a fairly long, but enjoyable walk across the river to the meeting place. Once we got there I saw a small, boxy ten passenger van. Right away I started wondering how in the world we were all going to pile into that small van. Luckily, another van soon followed. The driver of our van was named Steve. He had what I thought was a strong British accent. After talking to him, I found out he had lived in North Carolina and didn't come to Italy until he turned 22. It was hard to believe someone from North Carolina could talk like that. He had moved to Italy to continue his study of music and he now teaches both private lessons and lessons in coordination with a local university. He fell in love and stayed in Italy. I found it funny that he said he could tell by the way I talked that I was from North Carolina. I
ain't exactly sure how he ever came up with that notion.
On the way to the Fattoria di Grignano we had to travel up a mountain on some really narrow and winding roads. On the way up the mountain he showed us the grape vines that had recently been cut off and had new vines grafted to them. I knew that fruit trees could be grafted, but I had no idea that grape vines could be. He told us that once a vine was over 40 years old, it no longer produced as much fruit so it was cut off and a new vine was grafted to the old roots. He also pointed out the olive groves and told us that this area grows the best olives in the world because it produces olives, though smaller, with the lowest acidity in the world. Once we reached the estate, it was overwhelming how large it was. The house was surrounded by expensive imported trees and had its own church so that the family did not have to worship with the common people. Then Steve gave us a tour of the olive oil processing area. The olives
are picked by a mechanized picker which has two "hands" that clap together and comb through the trees. There was high tech equipment used for pressing and separating the water and particles from the olive oil. Then he showed us the wine making process. They make regular, reserve, and grand reserve wine. The grand reserve is made only on certain years when the grapes are at their best and is only made with grapes from the top of the southern facing slope. That seems pretty extreme to me, but I know some people are really into their wines. I guess I'll get to taste it and see for myselflater. The grape juice is fermented in large barrels. The grand reserve is fermented from the beginning in small toasted oak barrels and it is only used once for this type of wine. Then it is used for the reserve wine after it has started to ferment in the large barrel. These small barrels are only used for three
years which seems wasteful to me, but once again, I don't know much about the wine making process.
Once again it's snowing, this time harder than ever as we drove to the wine tasting area. We tasted each of the wines including a dessert wine and had bread with olive oil. This dessert wine, moscato, had a brown color because it was aged for such a long time. I liked all the wines but my favorite two were the dessert wine and the cheapest red wine. The olive oil on the bread was also very good, but I was also very hungry. I ate several pieces of the bread. Then I purchased one of the large bottles of olive oil for 20 Euros.
Soon we were driving to the sight of the cooking lessons. We arrived at a very old, beautiful house with exposed beam ceilings and a lot of neat antiques. We went to the basement and Steve taught us how to make noodles from wheat flour, an egg, and a pinch of salt. The flour looked more like cornmeal than flour because it was course. We kneaded the dough until it had a springy, non-sticky consistency. We used half of the dough to make ravioli noodles by rolling the dough flat with the noodle roller then cutting circles out of the dough. The filling was made up of spinach, ricotta cheese, parmigiano reggiano, and nutmeg. The nutmeg was freshly ground and smelled much better than what I am used to in the spice jar. We added the filling to the center of the noodle and mashed together the edges of the noodles. Everything smells and looks so good, I was getting hungrier by the second. Then we used the other half of the
dough and rolled it out the same as the ravioli noodles. Then we used the pasta cutter to cut long flat strips and covered them with flour to keep them from sticking together. Once finished we went upstairs where our hostess had prepared for us tomatoes stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese pizza, and what I would call an omelet with zucchini. All three of the items were good but the stuffed tomatoes and omelet were amazing. I absolutely loved both of them. The next items were the ravioli noodles prepared in a simple sage and butter sauce and the noodles served with tomatoes and olives. Then we were served a tiramisu dessert which was better than any of the tiramisu I have had in any of the restaurants so far. Everything she made was delicious and once again I am so full I know if I sit down for long at any one place I am going to go to sleep.
Back in Florence a small group of us walked around the open air market. I bought some souvenirs for my family including a car magazine for my dad and a shot glass for one of my cousins who collects them. Then we stopped and got hot waffles coated with chocolate sauce. Just like everything else I have had so far, it was so good. I can't believe I ate again after all of that food we had earlier, but I did and at the time I didn't think a thing about it.
Day 6-Thursday, March 11, 2010
This was our last morning in Florence. Today we were off to Sienna just as the sun finally came out in Florence. A little way down the road it was snowing again but this time harder and wetter with rain mixed in. We were headed South but it wasn't getting any warmer. I had on two undershirts, a thick long sleeved shirt and two cotton jackets along with boots and two pairs of socks just to keep warm. The tour guide in Sienna took us to the church first which did not allow pictures but had more beautiful artwork of the Madonna and other religious scenes. She told us about the Sienna horse races which were fascinating because of how backwards they are from anything in America. The horse is celebrated not the jockey, the winners have to pay the losers, and the jockeys are simply loners that take bribes to benefit whichever region of Sienna will pay them the most, and the whips are for use on the other jockeys
not the horses. It seems like it would be a very chaotic scene, but I would like to be able to see it. It must be a very exciting event. Even the square was different from anything I had ever seen. It was built on a slope and was more like a shell shape than a square. It was a very pretty area. Then we entered a large cathedral that was even more intricate than the one in Florence. The dome did not have a mural but a pattern. The structure obviously had a lot of gothic influence because of the large pointed arches lining the top of the cathedral. I found the most amazing part to be the mosaics. There were colorful mosaics everywhere on the floor. An adjoining room held manuscripts and had beautiful murals on the walls. Everything in the room was extremely colorful and amazingly beautiful.
Then we had free time around the city and a group of us went to the Bar Il Pailo for lunch. I had a salami Panini which was okay but not the best that I have had in Italy. I also ordered what was called an original chocolate. This was a very strong version of hot chocolate. I had to add a little bit of sugar because it had more cocoa than I was used to which made it a little bitter. With the sugar though, it was better than what I drink at home. Then we went window shopping until time to leave for San Grigyano.
San Grigyano was a small, very old town which used to be home to many feuding families that represented their wealth with towers that they built. Once there a small group of us went into the torture museum. I found it fascinating. I hate to sound gory, but it amazes me some of the things that humans can come up with to torture others. These methods seemed straight out of a movie like Saw, but the scary thing was these devices were actually used throughout history.
From there we went to lunch where I had a margherita pizza. It was good but it would have been better if it had more cheese on it. By this time it was time to head back to the bus. We went to a hotel in the country called Borgo San Luigi. It had huge rooms and amazing views. I wish we had been able to stay more than one night in this hotel, but then again it was so far from everything that we wouldn't have been able to go out on our own and have free time in the city. We had a buffet style meal from food people had picked up at the grocery store and we played Bananagrams again before heading off to bed.
Day 7-Friday, March 12, 2010
I can't believe the trip is almost over. We moved out of the resort hotel this morning and headed to the Nestle chocolate factory. We went on a tour of the factory and got a lot of free samples of different kinds of chocolate. They had a lot of chocolate with hazelnut which is new to me, but I really liked it. Their most famous was the Baccio chocolate which was a dark chocolate with a hazelnut in the center. On the tour we watched the machines packing the chocolates and the people working to check behind the machines and finish the packing. There was a transportation strike going on so some of the workers weren't able to get to work. That seemed like something that would be going on in America.
From the chocolate factory we traveled to Civita. This was a city on the top of a mountain. This was my favorite part of the whole trip. I am usually more of a scenery person than a big city person probably because I have always lived out in the middle of the country. The only way to get to the city was across a steep bridge. There is only one main street running through the city with a few small restaurants. Mrs. Imblum had told me I needed to visit Rosita's garden because it had the best view of the canyon. Our group found what may have been her garden, but we did not see her. I was in awe of the city and its surroundings. We stopped to eat in a small shop that toasted our bread on the open fire. I had a prosciutto sandwich. This was another area where the pictures don't do the actual scenery any justice.
Then we went into Rome for the night. We didn't get there until it was already getting dark but since we weren't going to have much free time here we started our sightseeing that night. We walked to the coliseum, the Parthenon, and the Trevi Fountain. It was amazing to see structures that had been around since the ancient Roman Empire. I don't know how a structure can still exist after that many years. We had dinner at a very nice restaurant. I had lasagna which was extremely good. Even though it was baked, it wasn't dried out like lasagna sometimes is. We got in at about midnight that night so we were pretty tired. So far I have enjoyed the sites in Rome, but this city it too big for me. I can't imagine living somewhere like this. I feel like I might get run over anytime I cross the street. So far I have enjoyed myself, and I am really glad I got to see the Coliseum, and the Trevi Fountain,
but I'm glad we are not spending a lot of time here.
Day 8-Saturday, March 13, 2010
Today is our final full day in Rome. We started out by going on a guided tour of the Vatican State. Our tour guide was entertaining. She was determined to keep our group together despite the thousands of people that kept trying to cut through our group. First we started in the museum and looked at the beautiful statues, paintings, and tapestries. My favorite part was the tapestries. Our tour guide told us that each one of them took 30 years to complete. They were huge and they had gold threads and many other colors that were still beautiful. There were paintings on the ceiling that I thought were three dimensional sculptures. The tour guide told us they were actually flat and the shadows were painted to make them look three dimensional. Then we went in the largest church in the world, Saint Peter's Basilica. Pictures were not allowed but there were beautiful mosaics on the walls that
were so detailed, I thought they were paintings. It was absolutely breathtaking. While in the Vatican I had a Panini with prosciutto for lunch. It was very good but the woman who served us didn't speak any English. We had to watch someone else order before we did.
Before long we were headed back to Rome where we went on a guided tour of the Coliseum and the forum. He gave us a lot of interesting information that I never knew about the coliseum. It was amazing to be standing in the coliseum. I didn't realize how large it was until we were inside. I found out that the gladiators were not valued members of society or treated as heroes like is shown many times in the movies. They came from the lowest classes of society and were simply commodities for human entertainment. The higher classes got to sit closer to the stage for the gladiator fights. It was amazing to be standing inside of the coliseum. I didn't realize how large it was until we were inside. Standing in a place this old just makes me wonder who else has stood where I am standing.
From the Coliseum we went to the forum. We saw the arch of Titus which only survived because it was turned into an apartment after the fall of the Roman Empire. Then we saw the remains of the huge basilica which once covered a huge area. I also learned that Julius Caesar, despite what I thought, was not killed in the forum. Despite all of the ruins that have been found, more are being found every day. It is amazing what has been found underground in this huge city.
After the tours we headed to a restaurant to make pizzas. About half of the class got to make pizzas and the rest of us didn't. I was up to go next when they stopped us, but I still got to design my own pizza so I didn't get upset about it. Over this whole trip the only thing that didn't go as planned was the pizza making, so I am completely satisfied and feel like things went over very well. I had salami, prosciutto, and chilies put on my pizza. It was so good that I ate it all by myself. I think I am starting to eat more and more every day. It really is going to be disappointing when I have to go home and eat more bland food and less of it.
Day 9-Sunday, March 14, 2010
Another travel day today, oh boy. We got our wakeup call at 3:15 this morning. I didn’t get a lot of sleep but maybe that means I’ll be able to sleep on the plane. We are going to be traveling for between 24 and 25 hours and I am not looking forward to it. We boarded our first flight from Rome to Frankfurt at about 6:30 AM. I have decided I don’t mind flying as long as it is a short flight. We had cream cheese sandwiches for breakfast first thing and then I got a couple of short naps but not any restful sleep. Our next flight was from Frankfurt to Washington D.C. I got another stamp in my passport before boarding. We were served a pretzel snack and then had a meal of fish alfredo with spinach, a salad, a roll, cheese, and tiramisu. Everything was pretty good for TV dinner style food. The fish especially was much better than I expected. I got a couple more short naps on this flight but not many. I
am sitting right by the kitchen and every time I drift off someone flies through the curtain and it brushes my leg and arm and wakes me up. We had to fill out a customs form while on this flight with everything we were bringing back from Europe. I was worried that some of my food might get confiscated but everything made it through customs just fine. At this point my internal clock is completely messed up once again, but we’re in the home stretch now. The only flight left is from D.C. to Charlotte. I got more sleep on this flight but still nothing to brag about. Then once we got back to Charlotte, we rode the bus back to Catawba. This ride did it. I was out for almost the entire time. As I woke up we were on Innes Street.
The trip was amazing and full of firsts for me. It was my first time in a foreign country and my first plane ride. The artwork I got to see and the beautiful landscape of Civita was something that I could never have gotten the full effect of from the pictures. Being able to stand in the Coliseum and on top of the dome in Florence are memories that I will never forget. I am so glad I was able to go on this trip and so thankful to all those who helped make it possible.
Food Science Essay: More than Just Cheesecake
In our family there is an unwritten expectation that once the kids, especially the girls, get to an age where they are old enough to cook on their own, usually about ten years old, they are expected to bring something to eat to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since we all live within a mile of her house it is not hard to transport any dish hot or cold, so the possibilities for what to bring are endless. When it came my turn I didn’t know what to bring, but I knew I had made the Jello No-bake cheesecakes before and liked them so I thought I would find a recipe and make a homemade cheesecake.
I found a recipe for a New York style cheesecake and decided to try it. The first time I made it, there was a mini disaster. I hadn’t allowed the cream cheese to sit out of the refrigerator and soften which I soon learned was a big mistake. I had the mixer on low like the ingredients suggested, and all of the sudden I began to smell overheated electrical wires. I turned off the mixer right away and smoke started to come out of the air vents on the mixer. Like clockwork, here comes my mom, "What did you do to my mixer!? I’ve had that thing since your dad and I got married! …" Anyway, I let the mixer sit for a while turned off, then went back to it and finished mixing with my mom’s precious mixer that still worked fine after it cooled off.
After the cheesecakes cooled in the refrigerator, I tasted one of them to make sure it was worthy of sharing with the rest of the family. I loved it, so I took it to Thanksgiving hoping my family would feel the same way. I knew I was successful not only after the compliments from everyone but also after seeing the cheesecake was completely gone except for the last piece. I continued to take the cheesecake to every Thanksgiving and Christmas gathering for the next few years until one Thanksgiving when I just didn’t have time to bake a cheesecake. I figured people were probably getting tired of it anyway, so I didn’t feel too badly about not being able to make it. As soon as it was time for dessert, family members started asking me, "Where is your cheesecake? I look forward to that every time we get together." So from that time on, I knew my cheesecake had
become an expected dish at family gatherings.
Soon it was not only expected at family gatherings, but also at school culture days. My A.P. English teacher used to allow us to have culture days but not parties, so anytime the students got the chance we would come up with a reason why we needed a culture day and how it fit into the course. Of course food was an essential part of culture day, so I brought cheesecake to the very first one. Most of my classmates and the teacher loved it and requested it at all of the culture days to follow. On the last day of class our teacher gave out awards to each student because we had all grown extremely close to her. She had made unique awards for each one of us out of paper plates and glitter. My award said, "more than just cheesecake," and it still hangs on the wall in my bedroom.
Even though this cheesecake recipe was not passed down through the generations of my family, it has become an important recipe to my family. They expect me to bring cheesecake to every Thanksgiving and Christmas gathering, regardless of the circumstances. No one bothers to ask what I am bringing, but rather they tell me, "Bring your cheesecake." So even though it is a fairly new development, cheesecake has become a food tradition to my family.
New York Style Cheesecake
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 9 tbsp. butter, melted
- 6 tbsp. sugar
- 5 bars softened cream cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- 4 eggs
- Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together.
- Then add the melted butter and mix thoroughly
- Press the crumbs into three 8” pie pans.
- Bake the crusts for 5 minutes at 350°F
- Mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, flour, and vanilla on a low mixer setting.
- Then add the 4 eggs one at a time and mix after each one.
- After mixed to a smooth consistency, pour into the crusts.
- Bake at 350°F for approximately 30 minutes or until the pie seems firm across the top.
PHOTOS: Food Science Course in Italy