Student Blog: Food Science Course in Italy
Crystal Ignatowski '12 - politics: International relations
"This trip was absolutely phenomenal in every way. It was an educational experience of a lifetime."
I would like to thank everyone who contributed both financially and otherwise to my trip this spring break (2010) to Italy.
First and foremost I would like to thank my Grandpa and parents for the monetary support that they provided in both the trip and spending money towards it. As well as the Catawba College Honors Program and the donors that they received money from, especially Debra and Dyke Messenger for their large monetary contribution that allowed this trip to be made possible at an affordable price to all who attended, as well as Dr. Girelli for the scholarship I received through the foreign studies program. A special thanks to Mrs. Imblum for all her hard work and planning and her close work with EF to make this trip reality; as well as her amazing suggestion to go to Civita di Bagnoregio, which is an absolutely amazing, beautiful hill top town and quite possibly my favorite activity while in Italy. I would also
like to thank Dr. Brownlow and Dr. Sabo for the opportunity to experience such an amazing trip, with such a different cultural perspective of chemistry.
This trip was absolutely phenomenal in every way. It was an educational experience of a lifetime. From learning how Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and prosciutto ham among other things are made, to how the use of salt effected the lives of those who lived before the age of refrigerators, to a political view of another country's government, a cultural view of the lives they live, and the beautiful architecture and art of such a historical monumental country. It was an opportunity of a life time, and one I will never forget. Thank you all for this opportunity and your support.
Day 1: Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th
I don't know why leaving the United States is so hard for me. I can only speculate that it's hard for me because of my emotional ties to everything democracy stands for, freedom of speech, religion, and a chance to be whoever you want to be, a place where no one is turned away because of the color of their skin. I feel safe here, and who can argue with safe? Especially when the alternative is flying in a huge plane across the huge ocean away from everything that I currently know and care about? I'm excited for the opportunity to travel and learn new cultures and aspects of another life but at the same time it's hard to let go of all of my fears and inhibitions and move past the cultural barriers when I've come so accustomed to the modern western world that I know as home n America. Doesn't matter that I'm scared to DEATH of being in a moving vehicle over water... I know I'll be fine once we get there, but the only other
time I have ever left the country my brother was with me. I wish Heath could be here to experience this with me, it's a once and a life time opportunity I'd love to share with someone close to me.
Wow Milan is so pretty, we are driving to a place to eat but I'm not particularly hungry...we ate a lot of food on the plane. We flew over the Alps (I think?) On the way from Munich to Milan.
Lizzie and I wandered around looking for a phone card and what not so I could call home while away and she ended up getting a coat from United Colors of Benetton, its blue and super cute, I hope we don't need to dress warmer, there is snow in Germany, but Italy is farther south right? We played banana grams in the airport and we must have looked like straight tourists because some little Asian man was videotaping us, awkwarrrrdddd...
I don't know what to make of this group, I feel super awkward because I'm neither a science major nor a theater kid, and I think Jarrett and I are the odd balls out because of it. Speaking of Jarrett I defiantly almost drooled on him on the plane ride to Germany. They should really reinvent the idea of an overnight plane ride, making it more comfortable for everyone, not just those in first class. I'm sore and exhausted from sitting for so long and we are at the auto grill so to be continued.
Greatttt! Already made fun of for being an American and I haven't been in this country 2 hours...ha-ha who'd a thought. Sort of a weird observation but I feel a LOT more out of place in Italy then I did in Ukraine. Blonde hair blue eyes fair skin? Definitely not exactly Italian norms. Talk about awkward stares. I had a really good salad and some Foccacia for a snack because I don't know when we're eating dinner. I wish I liked coffee more; Sabo and everyone have been talking about coffee products here and I'm not overly excited about them. Lizzie got pocket coffee and we all tried one... they were interesting to say the least. A little bit sized chocolate with a shot of espresso in it, defiantly delicious though. We have had a very interesting conversation going in the back of the bus crew. Jarrett and I talked crazy politics and military things with
here and there comments from Lizzie and Quinn. Which made me wonder what kind of government Italy has, I have always been under the impression that it was fascist. All my years of political science here at Catawba have been a sham. Italy's government is actually fairly similar to ours, at least post Mussolini.
The president holds a 7 year term instead of 4 years in America. But there is also a prime minister instead of a vice president. Which makes me wonder what happens if president dies or is impeached? What's the linage here? The prime minister is picked by the president but acts sort of like our congress where it is TECHNICALLY over our president The Italian prime minister and the cabinet makes up the government, and a parliament with deputies? Parliament is similar to our house. 630 some members with 27 voting districts. Senate = 315 members 20 regions. Giorgio said something about having 66 districts at one point and narrowing it down. The court system is different too where we have a jury of our peers they don't. Giorgio didn't go into much detail about that before we started talking about armed forces and the maximum time all males have to commit.
Similar to our selective services or our previous drafts...they have all the same branches that we do and they have academies just like ours. Giorgio said something about it being different to become an officer but I didn't quite understand how because everything he said we have an equivalent to...
Hotel: we finally got to the Tricolore hotel which is nice, I'm rooming with Lori because they thought she was a boy...how do you make THAT mistake? ha-ha I'm exhausted and dinner is at 8 which seems super late for me (usually eating around 5 in the states) but I'm exhausted so after dinner I'm going to go straight to bed. It's so odd because our lights work only with the key card in, I wonder if that's some way of saving electricity or making sure you don't lose your key card
Dinner: the food was great, first taste of real Italian food and real Italian wine, it seemed to never end...desert was some kind of fruit I don't think I have ever had before, someone said something about apricots.
Giorgio is super funny, time for bed! Full day of touring tomorrow!
Day two: Monday March 8th
Got up and had our continental breakfast which was delicious! First taste of nutella and I'm all packed and ready for today's adventures. On the way to Parma Cheese Factory Giorgio just told us about today being Festival de la Donna or something that means the festival for women. This seems odd because they also have a valentine's day. So I'm not really sure what the need for another commercialized holiday is, except this one seems less present oriented and more or less just loving...giving the gift of flowers (mimosas) instead of jewelry seems more real. So we get to the factory and this crazy British woman is babbling about a cheese deserves its own recognition... that's some kind of ideology.
Ha-ha first things first...it's not parmesan it's PARMIGGIANO REGGINO! Like I'll EVER be able to tell the difference in the way it taste, it's been made for over 1000's of years...it was funny because she was talking about all other knock off's are made out of card board. Any who so we met our first Italian dog as soon as we got off the bus.
And we had to dress like aliens to go into the cheese factory where this man was soaking his foot in whey, (she later explained that this has potential to have medicinal purposes for injuries to the bones, the calcium from the whey sort of osmosis its way into the injured bones to make it strong...is there medical studies on this?)and the first thing I notice is that it smells TERRIBLE! Like I'm going to throw up into that vat of god knows what liquid terrible. At the factory these men were working around several vats of whey. We learned that each cow is traceable back to its whey. It's is made from the whole milk of a cow and they get milk twice a day. Once in the morning once in the evening, the evening milking is skimmed and both milkings' from the same cows are left in this shallow stainless steel looking tray that is open to the elements. (Cheese process must start within 2 hours of being milked...cheese needs mold, insects and bugs to become
cheese!)It is then moved into what looks like copper vats heated up to 30 degrees Celsius and starter whey (whey from the previous day) and 22 grams of rennet is added and the mix is left for awhile. Break up the grains with a big whisk like tool and reheat to Reaumur system of temperature developed by our self centered historical figure napoleon, to 44 Reaumur or 55 degrees Celsius the temperature is closely monitored by the cheese master and the grains are closely monitored and then left to settle to the bottom for awhile. It is then brought to the top and put in cheese cloth and divided into two. The two pieces are then put into wooden rwheels and placed a weight on top of to help the whey drain from. They are moved around from storage place to storage place and sometimes placed in metal reels. A few days later the cheese is imprinted with a plastic stencil with Parmigiano-Reggiano the month and year of production the company that produced it. After the cheese is ready it
is placed in a bath of salt water (the cheese floats) the water is saturated with salt, only Italian Marine salt is allowed. But it is soaked for 20-30 ish days after wards they are put into aging rooms with big wooden shelves and rotated for at least a year.
After 12 months they are put on a stool and tested by a cheese master using a hammer to listen for imperfections. Cheeses that pass get branded with a logo and those that don't are sold as not as high of quality cheese with lines marked through the Parmiggano-Reggiano stencil. It's usually aged for a long time, best around 12 to 48 months depending on one's pallet. It can only be made in certain regions of Italy, and the cows that they use are only fed natural things never any type of steroids or antibiotics, only grass and hay. The only thing that is ever added to the cheese is salt via osmosis in the salt bath and the cheeses are never waxed in any way. Also, cheese that is aged over 36 months is perfectly fine for lactose intolerant, such as me, to eat because all the proteins in it are dead. Italian mothers give a hunk of cheese to their children as snacks,
especially when teething and is considered the original "fast food."
It tasted delicious we tried the 30 month old cheese and I liked it alight. I bought a kilo to take back to the states with me because apparently its okay as long as its vacuum packed. But of course we tried the 24 month cheese after I bought the 30 month and I loved the 24. And good cheese is supposed to smell nutty and pineapple-y. Odd.
She told us story about monks producing cheese and how if they weren't working "with god" they were working "for god" and how Italy is trying to move back to how things used to be in a non modernized world which seemed pretty epic.
They only use hot water to clean the vats. And in the old days when they would say cut the heat the son of the farmer would pee on the fire...doesn't seem very sanitary. The world salary comes from Salt (or the other way around).
Cheese care: you don't cut this cheese you gouge it. Dry it off and wrap it in damp kitchen towels and if it dries out then grate it into and ice cube tray and put it in the freezer. This factory produces over 3 million reels of cheese a year and ricotta means re-cooked!
There was traffic on the way to the ham factory.
At first glance the ham factory is gorgeous a little hill top factory on a hill. Of course it's snowing though...spring break 2010, possibly the coldest spring break ever. I'll survive. We walked into this ham factory and oh my god the first thing we see is men cutting away at hams and I immediately wanted to vomit. On the tour we learned how it was made and took a tour. The process of curing the ham seems simple enough also only dealing with salt. First it is salted (again with only the Italian marine salt) and left for about 2 months (60 days) Next it is washed to remove the salt and hung in a dark, cool environment, aka a refrigerator-ish place that smelled TERRIBLE! The ham is then left until dry. When the ham is completely dry it is hung up for about 18 months and allowed to age. It is also inspected using the shin bone from a horse and smelling it.
We then went and tasted all kinds of cured ham including bacon which I LOVE fried! Ha-ha. But it was delicious none the less. The idea of slow food here is miraculous. Although I can't imagine it's too much healthier than in the states. With such a high salt content and what not but it sure as heck is good!
We ate lunch at a winery and learned some cool things, saw how wine is bottled first hand and tasted both a white and red wine. Again we had bread cheese and ham. I could live off of this stuff! Giorgio made an astounding point that while we eat to live, they live to eat. So slow cooked food is more desirable for them then McDonalds which he said wasn't doing too hot and Burger King was put out of business in Italy.
Balsamic Vinegar Factory
We met Simon, our first Italian cat.
It was cool we sampled some aged vinegar that had no vinegar in it at all... the process was also extremely simple, smash grapes and continually move it from one barrel to another while letting it age. The coolest part is that they had a condiment that was made for the Japanese that didn't want to pay the price of the fully aged stuff but wanted a high quality product. But we tried it on ice cream which was just odd, in a good way. I also had a little bit of liquor made from walnuts...yeah, not so great, but I could defiantly taste the walnuts.
After all the tours we went on our marry way to Florence. We got in our rooms; I'm in a quad with Katie, Danielle, and Carry. We met down stairs for a little bit of a tour to orient ourselves. We got Danielle some meds (which was REALLY odd, apparently you don't have to see a doctor to get a prescription, which would NEVER fly in America) because she has what we think is strep throat. Then we split for dinner and a group of us wandered around trying to find a good deal. We got to a pizza place and sat down and ordered. Emiliano, the guy who seated us invited us to a bar/club like thing that his friend owns. He was cute but a little pushy so we didn't know what we wanted to do Lizzie and I split the Margharitta pizza and water and then we got desert, a native
thing to Florence with a supposed desert wine and biscotti's that are supposed to dip it in...it was like a straight kick in the throat so we just ate the biscotti's. After dinner we went to pay and they didn't separate our check which was annoying. So we were all standing around the bar trying to figure out money and I glanced over at Emilano and apologized for being in the way and he said "It's okay baby, is this where you're staying?" and I looked down and the card that Giorgio had given us was on the counter in front of me and I looked at him and immediately thought of taken and said "nope, that's where we stayed last night" freaking out about how he got the card out of my pocket...what the HECK! Kyra was standing in front me and I was trying to figure out where the card came from... she was utterly confused. But it's a reality check that things like what you see in the
movies actually can and probably do occur. But after that we decided we WERENT going to the bar with him. Kyra got nuttella gelato and we split into a group that wanted to go out and one that was going to go back to the hotel. So, Lori, Lizzie, Zach, Quinn, Jarrett, Michelle and I all decided to look for something to do. We ended up at this place called the "Fish Pub" that was celebrating "women's day" and was giving free champagne. We hung out for awhile and chatted with the girls who led us there who were from the states and then Giorgio Sabo and his wife walked in...Utterly embarrassing. The girls were like "that's your group leader and your teacher? Wow" they then left after that...how ABSOLUTELY UN-COOL! But Lizzie got a drink and 5 of us did a deal for 5 shots for €5...my first purchased drink, a shot of Torrello and we cheers-ed to our trip to Italy and made out way back to the hotel for bed. Exhausted.
Day Three: Tuesday March 9th
Our first full day in Florence.
We woke up and it was frigid cold, bundled up as best as we could and went on a tour of Tuscany. We saw the piazza Duomo (fake church) and learned about the Medici family reign on Italy. My favorite part was seeing the only bridge in Florence that survived WWII because Hitler liked it... which seems odd... it was FREEZING, and snowing, and I defiantly didn't dress for this, or bring clothes for this for that matter. After the tour we went to a leather demonstration where this guy (Patrick- our first non-creeper Italian boy ha-ha) told us how to make a Florentine jewelry Florentine jewelry box. Which, no offense to anyone reading this, was utterly uninteresting, but I was thankful to get out of the cold. He also told us how to tell the difference between leather and
pleather which was neat and useful. Except I don't really care if my leather is real or not it's still a cool fun fact to know. We then had free time, and we were led to a market but finding food seemed difficult so Michelle Lizzie Jarrett Dustin and Kyra and I went to find a pizza place. It was DELICOUS! The place was really confusing though, we didn't know if we should seat ourselves or how to order, just different then here in the states. After eating and thawing out some more, we went to find the academia, which I was SUPER excited about seeing, after doing a portion of a class in high school on renaissance art and studying Michelangelo's David fairly extensively. Jarrett got us lost a couple times, finally I asked for directions because I was sick of wandering out around in the cold. We finally got there and it was amazing. David is so much better in real life than in pictures. The way his body looks is so lifelike and the veins in his hands are even bulging. Michelangelo
was a genius and the fact that he...or anyone else for that matter could make anything out of marble that is so astounding and life like, leaves me at a loss. The art gallery itself was a little bit of a sensory over load and was exhausting to walk around. I was almost too tired to enjoy it, but, just almost.
After the Academia Lizzie and I split because everyone wanted to go to climb the Duomo and I was not trying to be up high, so we did a little shopping at the market and got some suveigner type items. I wish America had open markets instead of big shopping centers. For the most part I feel as if it is a better way to purchase your items, and it is a more cultured and personable experience, especially now that we have the ability to order things offline. The world is much too small thanks to globalization. On the way back to the hotel we got SO lost. So unbelievably lost, the map we had was terrible, it didn't have all the streets on it. We were so confused, and asked a lot of people for help but it was just a terrible feeling to be lost on your own in another country. I knew we hadn't gone far though, and the experience (after the fact) was nice. We just got so turned around from touring all day and walking everywhere; we finally got back and were very
thankful to be in the warmth. But in our outing I got a calling card, so I could call Heath and the parentals tonight after dinner.
Dinner was AMAZING! We had a "slow cooked meal" at a restaurant that was outstanding. It was so much fun and we all became much better friends afterwards. The food and wine were both so good. It just kept coming. I tried a lot of things that I would have looked down my nose at here in the states...like rabbit...my family used to have one (RIP BP!) and veal which I'm utterly against the practices of in the states. What I have noticed about meals here is it's a lot easier to enjoy the people you are eating with. Something about slow meals make you want to slow down and enjoy it, savor the time you have to eat in a busy world and savor those you are eating with. My absolute favorite part was desert. Its sooooo good! Except they had the wine stuff we had the first night again, and it was still terrible. We all shared everything so everyone could
try everything, and it was easily one of the most enjoyable nights so far. The tone of this trip is defiantly going to change now that we are all legitimately friends; it makes me wish we had had more time before the trip to get to know each other out side of the class room. I think it's important to know and trust and like the people you travel with, I think we just got lucky this time around that no one ended up hating any one. It was great.
I talked to Heath and I tried to talk to my parents when we got back to the hotel. Heath only briefly because he has found himself in a mess with his parents, my parents, don't know how to answer a phone. Better luck tomorrow...Goodnight Florence!
Day four: Wednesday March 10th
Breakfast at 7:30 today like always. And as we walked and braved the cold we met accidental tourism. On the way though we passed something that I thought was super neat. There were a bunch of locks on a bridge, later it was clarified that the locks have the names of two lovers on them, and the key was thrown in the river. How romantic? I love this country I swear, who carves names in trees when you can have a love lock with a lost key!!! Our van driver, Alex's (super cute!) sister lives in Wilmington which is cool. We sang the whole way there, it was like bad juke box karaoke but I loved it. Last night's dinner defiantly changed the tone of this trip. Alex took us to a winery/olive oil factory at a gorgeous summer
house in the mountains. Except it wasn't very summery, it was very snowy and cold. We walked step by step the processes of making olive oil and wine which was super neat! The coolest thing was when Steve (our tour director) was talking about how the workers are paid. Because olive oil is such a staple in cooking in Italy that they are given a percentage of what they pick olive wise, in oil, it's interesting to me because there isn't anything in America that I would work for, to get a percentage of. Here I would always want cash, which is another cultural difference I suppose. We are all about the wrong kind of green. After our tour was over we went to a little place for a tasting. We tasted 4 different wines, one of which I bought a bottle of. They were all aged for different periods of time and the one that I bought (the desert wine native to Florence) was particularly comical, it
was delicious, unlike this faux stuff the places around us had been giving me which was like a kick in the throat. This wine is beautiful. It is made from the grapes at the top of the south facing part of the mountain so they have the sun longer. And it is aged for at least 8? years before selling. What is that other stuff rubbing alcohol? Talk about tourist trap. The bread was so good. I could live off of olive oil and bread and cheese and ham. This culture is astounding. There has only been one food I didn't like (liver pate at dinner the night before...that stuff is for the birds!) I'd like to think that this place is only amazing to tourists but after talking to Alex I've decided it's not. He has spent time in America because he has family there, he thinks Italy is a great place but defiantly sees the need to make some changes, such as government reform. He also told me that it's not as easy as I believe to travel from country to country in Europe. However
he compared it to traveling state to state, which is super easy to do, so there is some cultural barrier there. We laughed about fat Americans coming to Italy to study food and the irony in our class.
We then made our way to our cooking class where the awesome Alex taught us how to make ravioli from scratch. Epic disaster, I can guarantee when I make this at home, Heath's mom is right about me needing domesticated. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work and a few ingredients, eggs flower, salt, ricotta cheese, Parmiggano-Reggiano, and spinach. Jarrett dropped his on the floor and we still used it...how gross. After we made it and washed up we had a beautiful meal with several types of keishes and our pasta, and my new favorite desert, tiramisu.
We paid for the wine and olive oil we purchased, had a little coffee and we were on our marry way back down to Florence. Lizzie and I talked about the difference between Italian boys and American boys and carried everyone's stuff back to the hotel and we went out and shopped and got gelato with Kyra Michelle Jarrett and Dustin. I fell into another tourist trap and tried to exchange money when the banks were closed and lost a lot in the exchange. I bought Pinocchio's for my family and friends because Florentine wrote Pinocchio and we were in Florence. We
then went to the hotel and played banana grams. My new favorite game, and met some Canadian high school kids on tour too which was neat. And I talked to heath for awhile. I hoped to go to sleep early but the girls in our quad had girl talk for awhile. Danielle is feeling better. It was another late night, but I'll sleep when I'm dead. You only get this kind of opportunity once in a life time.
Day five Thursday March 11th
we woke up had breakfast and left our hotel, and waited for Claudio to pick us up. Lizzie and I almost got left because we were on the computer and no one told us that the group was walking out the door. Any woo, we then were on our way to Sienna, to discover hill top towns of Tuscany. I slept the whole way to Sienna and when we got off the bus it was snowing more and it was really cold. Of course I didn't double u p on my leggings. This is legitimately my least favorite day. My shoes aren't water proof, I can't pay attention because I'm cold and trying to stay dry, all I know about Sienna is it is one of the oldest cities. The chapel has lots of pictures instead of words because of the language barrier of all who traveled Sienna. I think she said something about the only way to Rome was through Sienna. I imagine this place would be super pretty if it wasn't such a miserable slush outside. The history behind this place must be astounding. The architecture
is gorgeous, it really amazes me that places like this are still standing, I don't think of previous technology being so great that the structures of these buildings are sound. After the tour and before parting the tour guide told us about fried rice sprinkled with sugar being a treat that only happens for a very limited amount of time. So of COURSE I had to try it. Lizzie and I went and got pizza which was super delicious, I swear this pizza only get better the further into this Italy trip I get. We met some super annoying 15 year old girls from Canada who were extremely rude. I couldn't believe it...who do they think they are? "Oh you are from America? Ha-ha well we just set a record for gold medals!" and of course I had to respond with "well, we gave you a run for your money at your national sport." The smart @$$ little girl said "well if you weren't so stupid you would know that our national sport isn't hockey...its
lacrosse!" alright I was over it then...stupid Canadian girls...
The plaza is cool it's kind of concave and amphitheater style. The tour guide told us about horse races held there every so often which was interesting. The city is separated into 17 different political like parties that route and bet on these horses the city is sectioned into the areas. The parties are represented by different animals. People are bribed and it's not supposed to happen like that. It's an interesting cultural experience though I feel sure. I hate that being from America we have no real national traditions. We don't have a typical dress, or a national song (other than the national anthem). We are such a melting pot of diverse cultures that we as a country have yet to find our own solidified identity.
We shopped around after lunch and I swear the people thought we were going to steal something because they followed us around like hawks. All we were trying to do was stay warm!
We then went to San Gimignano a medieval town that has 14 of its original 60 something tours. It was still cold and we didn't have very much time here so a group of us went to a couple torture museums. That was interesting, I almost passed out, and from being super dehydrated and grossed out I'm sure. The figures they had doing the torturing were so life like, it were FREAKY. It was super funny though because this guy was working on the air duct and I only saw him out of my peripheral vision and so when he moved while I was looking at him I thought he came alive and it scared me...I screamed "oh my god!" and jumped. Zach and the guy that did it were laughing pretty
hard. We then ate at this place (I got foccacia) where the waiter was super rude. We were trying our best to communicate with him and be respectful but he was just downright RUDE. We then split into two groups, my group went and took some pictures and wandered our way down to the super market where I got bread and then we left and went back to the bus to head to our hotel for the night.
At the hotel we had a fun night. The majority of us got together in Ryan, Quinn, and Zach's room and ate a second dinner feast and enjoyed each other's company, drinking wine and having a ball. Laughing the majority of the time because of silly things that we're said. The Sabo's and Giorgio then came and knocked on the door and dared people to jump in the pool for €10...I would have done it if it was more than that. We had so much fun! I called Taylor (my best friend) and talked to her for awhile, and finally got a hold of my parents and talked to them for awhile. I didn't get a hold of Heath though. It was a late night with the girls, rooming with Carrie, Katie and Vanessa. The hotel was AMAZING. Some sort of resort. I wish we were staying here for more than one night because this place is absolutely breath taking in the day light.
Day six: Friday, March 12th.
We ate breakfast at the amazingly beautiful resort and then we're n our way to Perugina to tour the chocolate factory. That was delicious to say the least. I didn't really learn too much that was new, since I'm a sucker for how it's made especially with chocolate. But I bought €20 in chocolate. Well worth it. I love the Baci. SO good! They made a huge one for a chocolate festival and they had a replica. We weren't allowed to take many pictures inside the factory; I suppose I wouldn't want people to constantly be taking pictures of me while working. The tour director said something interesting about a public transportation strike and that's why very few workers where there. After we got back on the bus I had a bunch of questions for Giorgio. What caused the strike and so on? He told me that the people thought it was the Italian governments' fault that
the economy is so bad and that they were striking to see reform. But there's no reformations to be made because everyone knows this economic slump started in America. The lady who gave us a tour in Florence said something about the Gypsy's there receiving €35 a day to live off of, Giorgio said this is to try to help them better their lives. I'm astounded, I feel as if there should be some legislation against using children to beg for money when they should clearly be in school. Mrs. Sabo related it to Mexicans in America, but I totally do NOT agree. The conversation moved towards cheap labor and our exportation of labor to China, and the sheer mass of goods that we import into our country. Nothing says "made in America" on it. I feel as if this isn't helping our nation mature into what we would like to see. We have gotten so used to paying next to nothing for everything. Food included. We think everyone should do it for us at a
very cheap price, well we are sacrificing quality in our goods and foods, and humanity to those that we put into sweat shops to produce our Nikes'. Those people who get paid next to nothing because we can get away with it. America's economy has been turned into a criminalized procedure of using those less fortunate. That's not what I like to see. We arrived at this hill top city, Civeta, another one, great. At least it's a pretty day out; it might even be warm enough to walk around without my hoodie on under my north face! We stated walking and learned that this is a dead city, it had been essentially abandoned. On the long walk we met our first Italian donkey, and Lizzie asked what type of animal it was ha-ha! And we named her Frieda!
When we got to the city on the hill it was a breath taking view. Once we reached the top and took a group picture we split off into groups to find some where to eat. Danielle, Vanessa, Carrie, and I stumbled upon this little hole in the wall (literally) place owned by Fabritzio. At first it sketched me out because we were the only people in there with this man who later offered us a nights stay in his home in the valley to share a meal with his family and see his winery and such, offering us a ride to Rome in the morning...ha-ha . His family has made organic wine and olive oil since the
1500's. He had the original wheel you attached a donkey (like Frieda!) to squish up olives the then strain them and make oil, it was neat! He didn't speak much English but we communicated well enough to learn that he has family in Maryland and he was wearing an oriels shirt. Carrie about FLIPPED out. It was hilarious. The food was good; we had bruschetta and olive oil with some other stuff on it. I am in awe at how well communication can go when no one actually understands. But Carrie is going to marry Fabritzio and walk down that long bridge as an aisle, so we will always be able to have such a sweet man in our lives.
On our way to Rome, I can't believe this trip is blowing by so fast. I'm super exhausted and I've learned a lot I don't want it to end!
In Rome we split into 2 groups initially to find food and site see. My group started out as 10 people and realized it was just too much to get everything we wanted done, done. So Zach and I talked over splitting into two groups, and so it was. We then proceeded to site see. We saw the Coliseum which at night is gorgeous! And the Pantheon which was really super neat, it's been standing for SO long, why don't we have architecture in the States like this? And we also saw the Trevi fountain and threw coins into it. It was a great night of free time. We checked out (but didn't purchase anything) a Mc Donald's. This country and this city have SO much history! After all, the sun never sets on the Roman Empire!
Day Seven: Saturday March 12th
Our last day in Italy. It seems like just yesterday we got here. I'm already sad about leaving and we haven't even left yet. We had breakfast this morning as usual and left and Claudio took us to the Vatican where we had a tour of the Vatican square.
The art work was so intricate and the details were astonishing, somehow, using shadows I guess, the artists made the paint look 3D when you are standing underneath it looking up at it. We toured Saint Peters Basilica and the Sistine Chapel both are extremely gorgeous places. I didn't realize that most of the previous popes were laid to rest in Saint Peters Basilica. It's a little odd because everyone else is buried just an interesting thing I guess. Saint Peter died before his chapel was even built. There is a statue of him that people for hundreds of years would rub the feet of for good luck. The feet have been rubbed for so long that he no longer has toes. So of COURSE I rubbed them. The Sistine chapel is a gorgeous; Michelangelo's art work is so amazing! I have never seen anything like it before ever! The famous portrait of the finger tip of Adam and God touching is breath
taking. It's also kind of funny to learn about the controversy that took place over the nudity in the last judgment painting. I think it's interesting that the church would be against nudity when it is how God created us all. The most irony I can think of is that you are not allowed to take pictures in the Sistine chapel. Not necessarily because you will ruin the pictures because without a flash on the camera you aren't going to do any more damage to it. At least no more than breathing out carbon dioxide does. But you aren't allowed to take pictures simply because the Japanese paid to restore it. I don't know about anyone else, and I don't really know what I expected of the Japanese, but I Sure as heck wasn't expecting the Japanese to have such a large catholic population to put such a large amount of money into the restoration of the Sistine Chapel. That's probably very closed minded of me, just something I never really thought about. I also learned that the Swiss guards
protect the pope because way back the Swiss came to help protect the Vatican and it's like an honor for them now. The Pope gives mass twice a week to all who want to come. The car he rides in is called the "pope mobile" and he also has a white helicopter. The Vatican is per capita the richest country on the globe, and is the smallest nation state as well. I bought my family and Addy a cross that goes on a necklace and got them blessed by the Vatican.
After the Vatican we said our goodbyes to Claudio who we won't see again the rest of the trip. We went and toured the coliseum and a lot of misconceptions we're cleared up. Major told me once that the floor was flooded and they practice naval battles inside for spectators...this is false. A cool thing about the Coliseum is that it was purposefully partially deconstructed and the building materials were used in other buildings. It wasn't until Mussolini's reign that they started preserving this wondrous building. There isn't much to the Coliseum other then it is a miraculous site to see. At least the tour guide didn't tell us much more then gladiator stories
and how the destruction came to be. Until we got down to the Forum which was definitely neat. It's like an old market/ the center of town for ancient Rome. The buildings are miraculous; I still want to know how all of this was possible back in ancient Rome! The ruins make me wonder what people are going to find in a thousand years from now. We are such a baby nation that I think it is impossible to imagine what our country will leave behind. I'm not sure with the state of the world today we will make it to see another thousand or so years. Another common misconception is that Cesar was killed in the forum- false; Cesar was killed on a nearby square.
After the forum we went to make pizza! This was a little bit of a letdown. Not everyone got to make their own pizza and I felt bad because we just went in order of the table. And Danielle really wanted to make one, where I was kind of nonchalant about it, and Dr. Sabo told her that those that we're bold and stepped up got to make pizzas. I would have gladly given up my place to her if I had known not everyone was going to get to make their own. So when Sabo came over to me and asked me how it was I told him okay...when he asked why I said it would have been better if everyone got to make one. I then felt quite patronized and put down when he responded with the need to be flexible and that I needed to enjoy myself because I got to make my own pizza. Put a little bit of a damper on the night but I'm only in Italy one more night so I'm going to make the most of it. After eating Giorgio said his goodbyes and started
crying, Lizzie and I followed suit. I don't want to leave this place! Carrie presented Giorgio with his tip like I did with Claudio and gave a little speech. G is for your good looks, I is for your intelligence O is for your oratory skills R is for your really terrible ability to navigate G is for your really good looks I is for his incredible ability to swoon Carrie and O is for ...I don't remember exactly. We then split and went shopping. I gave my pizza to some people sleeping on the street and then found a bar to celebrate our last night in Rome. And we made our way back to the hotel and I showered and packed and we had girl time. Lizzie stayed the night with me. We talked about how much we wanted to save the world...and drifted lull-fully into a deep sleep...for about 3 hours.
Day eight: Sunday, March 14th
Woke up at 3 in the morning to pack, went to the airport at four... Still feeling the reminisce of our celebratory night out. And cried and said good bye to Giorgio and checked in and went through security for our adventure home. The flight from Rome to Frankfurt was interesting, this boy in front of me through an orange at me and I was sitting next to a Canadian who said "ski-doo" instead of sledding...I couldn't contain myself. And I'm sure if Carrie ever reads this she will roll her eyes because contrary to her belief I was not flirting shamelessly I was just exhausted and it was a hilarious, sleep deprived, slap happy, state of being. (Cole is now my friend on face book) I made the argument that they needed to change the name of their country to Canadia or they should be called Cananadans. We are Americans from America there are Mexicans from Mexico. I don't think its right that Canadians are from Canada.
Be regardless. I slept in the airport until we boarded the plane and attempted to sleep the whole way back but that was a miserable attempt. So many screaming children, the annoying German kids to my left having a pillow fight...impossible. After landing in DC and going through customs I was so relieved to be back home. I hate traveling. The whole act of being in-between two solid ground places of being. Using confined spaces to transport yourself from one place to another just isn't something that seems safe, nor is overly appealing to me. But there is nothing more breathtaking then knowing you are home, exhausted physically and mentally, over indulged in amazing food, ready, or so you think, to conquer the task of getting back into the gear of school, with a million memories to share, and 15 new best friends.
Chicken Salad Story
This recipe isn't something I have grown up with. It isn't something that I have spent my whole child hood helping my mother make. However, it is something that has special meaning to me. My family personally does not have a lot of traditions. As a matter of fact, home cooked meals happen very rarely, and even when they do, we never sit at our dining room table. We are what I think of as the "American Family" who never spends time together and always eats unhealthy food. My boyfriend's family however is the exact opposite. His mother makes dinner every night from scratch; they eat around a table in the dining room. Dinner isn't a buffet style come when you're hungry, grab a plate and watch T.V. and it is a whole new world for me. That is how this recipe came to mean so much to me.
This chicken salad recipe was introduced to me Easter weekend. My boyfriend and I drove down to Oak Island a day before his parents. His grandma (his dad's mom) is the same way about eating together as a family. We got there really late and decided not to wake her up, but the next morning she had, assumed correctly, that we would sleep until lunch. She left us a note that said "Chicken salad in the fridge" So, instead of grabbing something fast and easy to run and take to the beach like I had intended, my boyfriend made us a light, delicious, satisfying lunch that consisted of a toasted chicken salad sand which, just the bread was toasted though, so the chicken salad would still be cool and refreshing. He also cut up strawberries and poured us both a glass of sweet tea. We then sat down at the table and enjoyed each other's company and made big beach plans for the rest of the week and enjoyed a
delicious meal together, something that until his family I had rarely ever experienced.
Before this experience, chicken salad in my life only existed in the form of Chick-Fil-A and while it was also usually accompanied by sweet tea, and was also toasted and is very delicious doesn't compare in the slightest to the love, and deliciousness of a grandmas satisfying cooking; especially in regard to the time we spent together and the memories we made Easter weekend, merely because of chicken salad. This act of sweet southern hospitality, enjoying meals around the table, even if its something as simple as chicken salad sand which's for lunch before a beach outing has made me realize how much real time we spend eating, it might as well be a fun and meaningful time to spend with loved ones. This is something that has taken place several more times, with more than just chicken salad, but these memories will never fade, and that lunch, of simple chicken salad sand which's, changed my view on
family lifestyles and what it means to eat around the table.
Chicken Salad Recipe:
- Boil 4 skinless boneless chicken breast until tender
- Remove/drain and chop the chicken breast
- Boil 3-4 eggs, peel and chop to add to chopped chicken breast
- Chop 1.5-2 red apples cored and chopped (not peeled) and add
- Add 4 tablespoons of sweet pickle cubes
- Add 1.5 cups of mayonnaise and mix in
PHOTOS: Food Science Course in Italy