Monday, May 31, 2010

Gelato Festival

Photo Copyright:Claire Weaver

Friday, was the first day of the gelato festival. I slept in a bit (it was a late night the previous night), then went to my professor’s to pick up his keys; I was feeding his cat over the weekend as he and his wife go to Rome to meet up with family. Then I went back home and cooked up the lovely porcini mushrooms I bought at the market yesterday. These majestic, large fungi have to date resisted efforts at cultivation, so they are a relatively rare local delicacy. I’d purchased a huge bag (cheap at €10), only to discover that none of my roommates like mushrooms! So, I’m stuck eating them all myself. Tragic.

I cooked them with mint, fresh basil, garlic, oil, and salt, then sprinkled a little parmegian cheese on top. Molto bene! After a lunch of grilled mushroom steaks and bread, I went with a group to enjoy some gelato in the historic city center. There were bustling crowds flocked all around the pavilions set up in the piazzas. Lectures on how gelato is made were offered throughout the day, and open kitchens were set up as well. We each purchased a book of tickets (five tastes for €4, a great deal), and started tasting! There were many flavors offered; one of my favorite was ACE (orange, carrot, and lemon); I have not yet found the flower flavors I enjoyed in Cassis back in 2007. It is my quest to find lilac and lavender once again. Now we are enjoying a quiet afternoon at home, and will later pick up some pizza to have at the apartment.

My plans are finally firming up; Rome at the end of June, with day trips most weekends. I will stay in Florence this weekend to take care of Mr. Parker (the cat), but mostly because I want to get to know the city better. Fiesole is a possibility.

Thursday night a group of us met up and took the bus to the piazzole Michelangelo to sit on he steps and watch the sunset. Afterward we walked down, stopped by the ladies’ apartment so they could freshen up, stopped by our place to drop off our bags, and then went out for a glass of wine at a club that wasn’t completely swamped with Americans.

edit: checked my grades for last semester today: 4.0 again!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


So, I find myself in Florence, Italy and with some time and luxury to blog again. I will make an interlude from my series of near-death experiences to share some of what is going on in my life right now. My semester is complete (with some success), I am freed from my home responsibilities for the time being, and in a wonderful environment. You may ask, how did I get here?

I am studying abroad at the Institute at the Palazzo Rucellai in Florence through a program at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. I will be here for a total of six weeks, until July 3rd. So far I have not really left the city, but have had a number of good experiences here. I will try to catch up on relating those as I continue, but first I will start with the most recent.This is the view from our apartment!

Today our Food and Culture of Italy class took a field trip to Il Marcato Centrale, the Central Market. On the way the professor had us try tripe (trippa).

Afterwards, we toured the market. They have giant wheels of cheese, exotic meats (rabbit, horse, guinea hen, etc.), and lots of cuts and parts that are not common in American supermarkets; tripe, lung, brain, and pig penis. I draw the line at tripe...

After touring the market we headed back to the piazza Della Republica to split up for the end of class. On the way there, we were going down a small side street en masse, when a a little delivery truck almost ran over the professor! I missed the beginning of the exchange, but when our professor said something to the driver, it turned into a shouting match with a distinct cross-cultural context; I heard the driver say "Tedesco" several times; our professor is German, and it seems that the gist of the driver's abuse was that our professor was another damn German that thinks he can come to Florence and do whatever he wants, etc. etc., hearkening back to the Nazi occupation of Northern Italy.

Out professor gave a cursory explanation but pretty much shrugged it off.

Afterward, I went back to the market with one of my fellow students, and picked up fresh porcini mushrooms! These only grow wild and are really fresh right now. Yum!

I have so much to relate; I will try to post as much as I can!