Fried Rice… No, Not The Chinese Kind

I have made it a habbit to stay out every day until around 7:30 when things start to close down.  We don’t eat dinner until 8:00 every night, which is perfect because it takes about a half an hour for me to walk from the city center to my house.  Today I had two and a half hours of conversation in the afternoon with my favorite Christiana, and then Sophie, Christiana, and I went for gelato.  Of course since Christiana has lived here her whole life she knows all the best places, and the place she took us to, Grom, was exceptional.  I had pistacchio (my second favorite behind coconut, which they did not have) and red grapefruit.  I know it sounds like a strange combination but it was actually quite wonderful.  I think I will make a habit of going there to try all their flavors… I have decided on chestnut ice cream tomorrow, and if I am feeling brave I will try the flavor of the month, which is chocolate and pear.  The point of this story is that the afternoon started out on a good foot!  Sophie and I then went to poke around in a gourmet food store for a bit before we split ways.  I had not spent much time on the other side of the river, so I decided to go explore.  I came upon a pretty little church (not surprising as there are churches on every corner), and went in and sat for a spell.  It was quiet and calm and beautiful, not huge but not small, not imposing but still definitely Catholic (God is great, you are small).  After I left the church I walked around several little neighborhoods, stepped into a shop or two, and then came upon a huge Roman gate.  A gate to what, I don’t know.  I will try to look it up.  I wrote down the names of a few restaurants I was curious about and envied the gardens of few of the estates.  I finally turned for home once the wind picked up to a nice blustery blow, crossed the river and ended up in a tiny little street that connects to one of the larger street that I take home.  The street was called Via dell’Albero, and it was there that I had a culinary revelation.  I passed by this teensy tiny hole-in-the-wall place that didn’t even have a name.  I stopped to admire the pizzas and saw that the man who worked there was just putting out some hot, fresh, fried things.  I looked more closely and noticed that they were balls of Italian rice which he cooked and then fried, and then rolled around in sugar.  He convinced me to try a few, and for a measly 1 Euro I got three big bites.  They were so simple, yet so delicious at the same time!  I have never tasted anything like it before, crunchy and sweet on the outside and impossibly creamy on the inside.  There were no fancy herbs or spices, just a simple little treat that absolutely refused to apologize for itself.  I was just beside myself the whole walk home, and promised to return another day and try his fried apple snack.

Believe it or not, I have lost weight!  I have no idea how this is happening, besides the fact that I was working out a lot before I left and may just be losing muscle mass.  That makes me sad, but then again I walk several miles a day (nearly 3.5 miles just to and from school, plus a few hours of walking after class is over) so maybe that is the reason.  Anyway, it makes me feel less guilty about eating gelato and fried snacks in the same day, and making plans to do it all again tomorrow!  But come on, how often do you get to live in FLORENCE??

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