Mamma Mia! What an extraordinary gastronomic experience today was (haha, I know I say that everyday)! I have made good friends with the Brazillian boy (Andre), in part because he is really sweet and we get along really well, but mostly because we have something very important in common: we both love to eat! I feel like life is a total exaggeration when we spend time together. He said today that we don’t remember the events of the day by time, but rather by food. How true it is! Today after class, we went directly to a pasticceria (“past-ee-che-ree-ah” = pastry shop) for a little pick-me-up, then went to this adorable little place called I Fratellini (literally “little brothers”) that is a true hole in the wall. You wait in line in the street (although in Italy it is more like waiting in a mob and pushing your way through), someone hands you a menu while you wait, and then you go up and order and within thirty seconds the most wonderful sandwich of your life is hot in your hands, along with a glass of wine. I had a panino al porchetta con crema tartufata (roasted pork sandwich with truffle cream) and a glass of Brunello (the most wonderful red wine in the entire world, and certainly the most famous- and expensive- in Italy, for 7 Euro. There is no place to sit, but there are these little wooden shelves on which you can set your wine glass while you eat your sandwich. The spaces are even numbered so you can remember which glass is yours. Meanwhile you are totally crowding the street, Italian style, while a group of 200 Japanese tourists try to pass through single-file. It was the most wonderful experience! After that, we went to pass a few hours in the Uffizi. Andre also has the same Amici degli Uffizi card that I have, which allows you entrance as often as you want without waiting in line. It is really a great system because you can come and go as you want without feeling guilty for not seeing everything. I am usually pretty hesitant to go to museums with friends because I like to take my time reading everything and they usually get bored and ready to go, but Andre and I liked to see things in the same way. We talked about paintings as we went, staring sometimes for 10 minutes and then moving on. We only made it through 6 or 7 of the 45 rooms, and then we decided that we needed a coffee at the cafe in the museum. We did make it to the Botticelli room, which was as amazing as always. The first time I saw the Birth of Venus (back in 2005), I cried because it was so beautiful. This time I did not linger in front of it like before, because it was the Madonna of the Magnificat that really struck me. It is the most wonderful painting I have ever seen, so delicate yet heavy with significance.
Anyway, as I said, there was the coffee, and then we decided that we were a little tired and decided to come back another day for the rest of the treasures of the Uffizi. So we walked outside and it was black as night! The clouds were foreboding and there was that charged feel of a big storm in the air, and we decided to take refuge. What better place to do so than a gelateria (ice cream shop)???? We barely made it inside before the heavens let loose a torrent of rain and hail, but we were safe and warm and dry, happy as clams with our gelato. I had a cup of ricotta and fig ice cream along with crocantini (candied nuts). The ricotta and fig was especially memorable. Andre had this amazing rich chocolate with cayenne and pistacchios, plus cheesecake gelato. Wow! Well, the storm lasted so long that we were long finished and were stuck just staring at the other flavors. Finally he convinced me to get another coppetta (little cup) of fragola (strawberry) and pistacchio. I always shy away from strawberry because I think it will be kind of plain, but then when I get it I am always amazed! It is simple yet undeniably decadent. Andre had mango and fior di latte (litterally “flower of milk”- the most delicate and decadent flavor in existance). This particular gelateria was a new spot for me, but I will definitely be going back! I have taken it upon myself to find the very best ice cream in the whole city, and eat it in abundance. I have been attacking this mission with surprising vigor, and am proud to say that I could soon write a dissertation on the subject! Anyway, so after the crazy rain/hail storm passed, we took a little walk and ended up in an enoteca (wine bar) for another glass of wine (Valpolicella this time) and some crostini misti (little toasts topped with different delicious things: fava bean puree, a Tuscan pate that has totally opened my eyes to the idea of eating liver, soft cheese with marmalade, a pesto of sundried tomatoes, etc.). We lingered for over an hour, chatting about the day and about life in general, and then parted ways when it was time for me to come home for dinner. Of course by this point I was totally stuffed, but Delores had cooked this amazing vegetable and rice soup that was so simple yet so wonderful for a chilly, damp evening. There was also caponatta, a warm mix of potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. Also delicious. So here I sit in bed, totally stuffed, and thinking about all of the delicious things I want to eat tomorrow! Although I am so full I don’t think I will be hungry for a week! What a tough life……..
So I should probably wrap this up because I have a test to study for, but I have something on my mind. I am thinking about talking to Luciana tomorrow at school (the really nice lady who organizes housing) and asking her if I could move into an apartment of my own, with another roommate. It is not that I don’t like it here at Delores’ house, or that she is not good enough, but I sort of feel like I am missing out on something big by not being able to cook for myself. Delores is like a very concerned mother, wanting you to stuff your face all the time. Of course I appreciate it, but sometimes I want to eat out at a restaurant and experience other food. There is also an AMAZING fresh food market with gorgeous produce, fish, cheese, and meat. For someone who love to cook as much as I do, I feel like it is kind of a shame to miss out on that part of Italian life. I definitely think it was the right move to live here with Delores for the first month, to help me get settled in without having to worry about food and such. Of course, as always, I welcome any thoughts or comments on this matter. I am also posting a poll that I hope you will all take part in (see below)! Okay now I really have to go study! Ciao for now!