food

Bar, Food, Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup, Rome,

Trying something new: Tales of the Table

As this is my last semester, I decided to jump out of my normal zone, also somewhat as a way of distancing myself from Archaeology and more Roman history. So, I took Online Journalism, still a little nervous as I am bad at talking to people, but I thought it would be fun and another great way to use my photos. So I chose to focus on Food, but more than that, how food is in our culture and what it means to people. It won’t be a constant line of reviews, or recipes, but more of individual stories surrounding food.

My first story was about Michele Ferrero‘s death, as it was meant to be a “hard news” story, you can read it, and future posts on Food here: www.talesofthetable.weebly.com

I hope this new blog will be able to push my comfort zone and get out there talking to more people throughout Rome!

Side note: weebly is so frustrating, I wish we could just use WordPress.

My next piece will focus on the culture of Aperitivo in Rome, and hopefully further through Italy. If you have any great aperitivo spots or stories let me know and I will include them!

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A day at Ballarò

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The Ballarò Market of Palermo is quite a sight, filled with beautiful fruits and vegetables, but turn around and their are tables lined with squids and full fish.
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This food market has much to offer and was one of my favorite adventures in Palermo. Every vendor yells out in a deep voice what they are selling, sometimes the deep shout comes from a boy who looks no older than 13.
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We found the most delicious fresh strawberries, along with lemons, oranges and olives, all that were then wrapped up in newspaper for us to take as our lunch. The market neighbourhood reminded me a lot of Old Cairo it was just as if the mosques had been replaced with Churches, but it was very similar.
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All around were men shucking artichokes and keeping water on the fish, many would ask for a photo as I walked by (it’s hard to miss a large shiny red Nikon DSLR). It was hard not to buy all the food they had to offer as everything looked so much more fresh and cheap even then what we have up here in Rome.
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The market is all food, but even if you think you’ll be eating out while in Palermo, take a walk around and grab some wonderful fruit as a snack, it will balance out all the Cannollis!
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E’ tempo di caffè

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But isn’t it always? In fact I am making a cappuccino as I type, because yes I am one of those girls whos social media feeds are entirely composed of arty coffee images, and who will make coffee at least 3 times a day. I’d like to say I am not addicted because I have never had a headache and that makes coffee sound bad. In reality it is the greatest thing on earth.

Here in Italy I love coffee sometimes to just give me that buzz to survive a 9AM onsite, but mostly I love it because coffee gives me an excuse to take a break. It’s the best way to relax and have a moment to myself, or a moment to enjoy a friend’s company and catch up. Since I have had to start thinking of thesis topics and post grad options, coffee has become my escape.

Many people say Italians are all about the quick bar coffee culture. Just get it and go. This is true if they are working or on their own, but really if they are standing they will always take the time to catch up with the barista or a friend in the bar. It just so happens that for sitting we are charged more so it’s a special treat to sit in the sun and have a coffee.

I took this photo while taking a break with With Love From Roma, who will post more photos of the Roman afternoon soon!
Buon weekend!

Food and Torino

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I returned to Torino this time for a one credit weekend class that was being offered. The class focused on the diverse food and culture that can be found in Torino, especially at the Porto Pallazzo market, it focused further on the Slow Food Movement which began in Torino. This trip included a visit to the Fontanafredda winery which originally sold Mirafiore wine, and was established by King Vittorio Emanuele and his mistress, who then became his wife, Rosa. Rosa was an Austrian peasant but was Vittorio’s favorite, he finally decided to marry her through a wedding which did not name her as Queen. Vittorio however, created the title of Countess of the region just for her. Today the estate is still decorated in an Austrian fashion due to Rosa, and the buildings are painted in yellow and pink stripes, a symbol of the royal family, in fact these stripes also appear on many of the wine bottles! We were able to tour through the small museum and wine making process then we were served a fantastic wine tasting and meal! 

Not knowing much about wine it was hard to really appreciate much of the importance, but it was interesting to learn a few facts. First that I thought was cool is the wine flavor changes drastically based on the size of the barrel and casts and thickness of the wood it is stored in. It is such a small thing I never had thought about it. Second you can tell how alcoholic a wine is before drinking, and that is why people swirl their wine. if you swirl it watch the residue rings along the glass, the slower they fall the more alcohol, the faster, the more sugar. 

Our meal was fantastic we got a local specialty: agnolotti, a small stuffed pasta, with butter sauce. We also were served the greatest 

ice cream I have ever had in my life, it was plain vanilla with some swirls of butterscotch, it was so creamy and thick with barely any air. The wines were good but I dream about that ice cream.

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We then were able to visit an adorable little town of Potenzia which houses the Bank of Wine and the Universita degli Studi Scienze Gastronomiche. I discovered I would love to go to this University, they offer masters, and I think some Bachelors in English, along with apprenticeship studies. They do not focus on cooking but more the science of food, or how food and culture or media interact. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our second day consisted of going to Porto Pallazzo Market, where we visited immigrant areas and were able to experience a small sample of each cultures food. Within this market there is also a organic and locally grown market separate from the general one.  You can find the Sicilian families and South Americans selling in the fish markets, the Asian ethnicities have opened their own grocery stores, North Africans have a small community filled with halal butchers fruit and furniture sellers, and the Romanian population sells their typical bread and cured meats in the market. It was so interesting to see all these populations and their food in such close proximity. For lunch some of us grabbed sesame bread from the Romanian vendors then asked the meat and cheese sellers next door to throw together a panino. I stuck with pizza this time.

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Finally we went to a chocolate factory! It was just a small family run one, but it was very interesting they taught us about how to make chocolate and the difference between most European and american chocolates. It is usually that Europe uses more of the original cocoa butter, or in Italy’s case olive oil sometimes, and American companies use cheap partially-hydrogenated oils, palm oils, and other things that are not as good quality.  They were so kinda and gave us many samples not to mention a whole bag of free chocolate! 

Our class concluded at Eataly, which although they are the face of the Slow Food Movement, I find the store very capitalist for being begun by a communist and I find it very hypocritical. Two key aspects of SFM is local, and good prices for customers, well, their produce even says it is from abroad, and nearly everything in the store is too expensive for many. In fact many of their products, we found at the market or stores we visited during the day for twice as cheap! Eataly is a fun experience and is great for boosting popular knowledge about Slow Food, but I can’t say I am 100% behind it.

 

 

Chocolate, Coffee and Shoes are always a Good Idea: A trip to Terni

After three weeks of rain we finally had a weekend of sunshine and 60 degree temperatures, it also happened to be that, this weekend, the annual Cioccolentino, a chocolate festival, was held in Saint Valentines home town of Terni located in Umbria. The city of Terni is only an hour out of Rome so a few friends and I decided to hop the trip to experience divine chocolate, and see a mini carnivale/valentines tradition.  It was definitely one of the best decisions I have made being here!

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The festival was small, but had plenty of free samples, and not only included chocolate but also cheese, olives, meat, jewelry, and other artistic goodies (including soaps shaped as cupcakes!). The streets were also filled with images of carnivale, confetti thrown everywhere and little kids dressed up in colorful dresses or as superheroes. We quickly found an artiginale chocolate vendor, who sold dark and white chocolate with cranberries, a banana chocolate, lemon ginger chocolate, chocolate with peperoncino (the spicy hot pepper) coconut, pistachio, you name it! They even had chocolate covered orange rind, figs and lots of truffles. The stand was run by two girls who seemed to enjoy speaking with us in English and sharing their delicious chocolate samples with us.

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Another stand even had chocolate covered raisins, this as well as the cranberries were quite incredible to find in Italy so a friend had to grab some! Vendors also had the chocolate covered Castani (chestnuts)a  perfect seasonal treat. Many stands carried chocolate shaped like the classic espresso maker, an image typical of Italy.  But one even had chocolate shaped as shoes, Fiat 500s, and other goodies. I was able to buy a set of chocolate spoons here, which I knew would go perfectly with a cafè, that is a straight espresso. Well boy were we in luck!

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The company Kavè has sponsored a tent bar of their own, where all coffee was offered in a sunny piazza, completely for free!  I was able to enjoy my espresso with a dark chocolate spoon, it was perfection.

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But before our coffee we decided to follow our noses to the sweet fragrance of the Sicilian pastry vendor. It is a very different region, but it is nice to get some different cuisines every once and awhile. I couldn’t think of having more sugar, even though the cannoli, the cassetini and sugar covered cream filled donuts were very hard to resist.

Terni had much more to offer than we expected, outside of the festival we wandered the small cobbled streets seeing adorable picturesque houses, alleys with Fiats and Vespas, balconies overflowing with flowers (more photos to come, but today is about food). Terni also had no small amount of shopping, and it turned out to still be sale season here! We spent time looking in all the stores where I was able to buy made in Italy black oxfords, and where we all spent hours looking and getting real leather bags and makeup cases for very little!

On our way out we bought some beautiful hair bows from these two girls who made accessories and jewelry from wood, they were very kind and if you are in Italy you should check them out: Falegnameria Di Domenico. We continued on where we grabbed samples of the sweet olives of Umbria, and delicious fresh cheese.

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It was finally warm enough for gelato!

ImageTo finish the day, we did as any Italian would, we grabbed aperitivo with a nice glass of wine to counteract the sweets of the day. The festival is now finished but there is always next year! Cioccolentino occurs every year on Valentines weekend, if you are not in the country during that time, you should take a day trip to Terni, it is a beautiful relaxing town, absolutely beautiful.

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Children dressed up for Carnivale, throwing confetti on the ground, they were just too cute!

Chestnut Seller

Chestnut Seller

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Chestnuts are a common winter snack here in Rome. Vendors set up a mobile brazier and heat them up to expose the white nut within. They are then served within a paper rolled cone, you can find these vendors on almost every street.

I recently discovered that chestnuts were always a Roman snack reaching back to the Republic where chestnuts were eaten plain or used in porridge. In fact the Romans then brought Chestnuts with them to the Northern Territories, introducing the tree to England, where it then became very popular in landscaping.

 

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In love with the Nikon D5300, and Italian Breakfast

In love with the Nikon D5300, and Italian Breakfast

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As well as this coffee.
I just got the new Nikon D5300 for Christmas (in RED!) and it is my favorite thing in the world. I have finally figured out manual shooting which also opened a whole new world for me. ( If you are looking more into manual, or need more help with it, this website is the best: http://clickitupanotch.com/best-of/) I am so excited to be back and Rome and start getting some much better quality photos!

This delicious breakfast you see is cafe ginseng and cornetto with cream, because all you need for breakfast here is a shot of caffeine and sugar high. But truly if your hotel or host family has been giving you juice and bread with jam, you need to get out and experience this. If your new to this Italian breakfast ordering situation, which can be intimidating at first, I suggest starting with just a cappuccino, or espresso and point to whatever pastry in the window looks good. Also though the chocolate ones may look the best, you will crash of a sugar high in about 5 minutes.

 

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Italian Christmas Traditions

Italian Christmas Traditions

Since there hasn’t been much to tell you about this semester, I figured I would tell you a bit about Italian Christmas. I haven’t been able to spend a full Christmas here, but hopefully next year!

Even though Rome is the site of the Vatican, there is surprisingly little in the way of Christmas decoration and events, or at least less than one would presume. Nativity’s are set up in every church, with a large one at the Spanish Steps. Christmas trees are decorated by large companies such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi. There is even one in Milan decorated completely with dildos…. Lights are put up, but not as excessive as America, there are a few decorations but I would expect more. It could be that I am not staying with a very Italian family, or it could really be they aren’t as excited as the rest of the world.

Food: At this time, oranges and clementines are the number one fruit. I have heard Oranges used to be a christmas present because they were so rare. Apparently this has stuck on in Italy. But there are no smells of cinnamon, gingerbread, apple or pine. In fact real Christmas trees are rare and expensive. They don’t really bake Christmas cookies, but there is the traditional Italian Christmas Cake: Pannetone. I finally bought one of these, I was worried it would be dry and boring like all other Italian attempts at a cake, but it turned out to be very good! All it is really is a large muffin, in look and taste, you can get fruit or chocolate ones. Of course there is also lots and lots of chocolate, mainly with nuts. Candied nuts and figs are also big at this time, at least in the grocery stores….yet I never see anyone eat them.

Traditions: Now, let me explain why there is a witch as this photo, rather than reindeer or Santa Claus etc. Well, Italians have two Christmas Characters, Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) and Befana, the witch who brings presents.

Befana comes on the Feast of the Epiphany, being the Night of January 5th. She comes and fills children’s stockings with sweets and presents, unless they have been bad, then coal and sticks. She also sweeps the house as she visits, sweeping away the problems of the past year. Sticking with the Italian mindset, rather than leaving milk and cookies, families leave wine and small food, sometimes figs and dates.

Befana was the old lady who sheltered the Magi on their way to visit Jesus, she declined to go with them, then later changed her mind and tried to find him, as she never could , she continues to search for Baby Jesus leaving gifts for all the children she encounters.
Her name really just comes from the Italian accent on the word Epifania.

And of course she is also connected to Pre Christian beliefs, she is connected to the Festival of Strenia and Iannus, as at the beginning of each new year, Romans gave presents to one another.

Babbo Natale used to be simply the character of christmas, however due to large commercialization, he is beginning to be the one bringing presents, rather than Befana.

Beautiful Rain and The Campagna Amica Food Market

Beautiful Rain and The Campagna Amica Food Market

Well, this photo has nothing to do with the market, other than being taken a few feet away, looking off at Circo Massimo. But it began to rain and the sunlight made it all sparkly that I thought I would share.

So what is the Campagna Amica Food Market?
Located just around the corner from Circo Massimo, at San Teodoro, it is the most local and freshest food market you can find in Rome. It follows the 0 km rule meaning everything has to come from Lazio, and no further. They have fruits and veggetables,bread, cheese, local beer and wine, pies and other baked goods, meat, and my favorite: olive oil and these sweet olive oil spreads.

The whole thing takes the space of one small warehouse, it is not very big but it is packed full of good things. It does happen to be a little more expensive than your usual bakery or fruit stand. In terms of fruit and vegetables though, most of what you pick up at a fruit stand will not be local but it will be cheap. Bread they make fresh at every bakery so really it does not matter. However, it is easier to get wheat bread at this market.

Most vendors offer samples, and are very helpful, though it can be busy and everyone will be jumping for the attention of the seller.

When I was there I bought an olive oil spread from Il Colle del Gusto (Full Name: Azienda Agricola Conti Santa Maria il Colle del Gusto). They had an amazing range of flavors, they have chocolate, nocciole (basically nutella with olive oil to make it spreadable rather than whatever they use) pistacchio, orange, and the one that i bought was MandorlaArancia, Almond Orange. These spreads are sweet  and so creamy, they are perfect. Though they are also highly addicting and I really need to go back to get some more….

If you are into agriculture and local food, you should absolutely stop by this market, otherwise you should go anyway to grab some of the best quality goodies. Especially for presents for people back home, the olive oil would make a perfect gift.

 

Torino!

Torino was absolutely wonderful! It is the first city outside of Rome I have really loved. It was so different from Rome, much, much cleaner, less smokers, people were nicer, much more lively. It was also a very small city which was nice, everything was easy to reach. We also noticed rent was much, much cheaper with some apartments close to the center at 500 euros a month, which included one bedroom, one bathroom, kitchen, living room, and balcony, also furnished. You can believe you will never ever see that cheap in Rome. People were so nice, when we asked people on the street where we should eat, they were so kind asking what kind of food we were interested in, how far we wanted to go and then gave us a few options. The city was beautiful, I honestly do not know much about the history of it, other than it was the original capital of Italy. Was home to the King of Italy as well as the Savoy family. The palaces throughout the city as well as all the art and historic collections belonged to the Savoy Family.  Now the city is mainly owned by the Agnelli family, the owners of Fiat.

The feeling is very French, and much colder than Rome, but it was so nice to try something else out.

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The end of my maracchino, I was too excited to take a picture of the before!

Torino is also apparently known for its chocolate, the coffee drink a Maracchino I had had in Rome, but in Torino, they apparently put either chocolate pudding or nutella at the bottom, it was delicious! There is also a drink known as a Bicerin, invented at the bar of the same name. It is about 2 inches pure melted chocolate, with espresso on top and then whipped cream. It is the best thing I have ever had in my life. For desert they have the usual Saccher Torte, which is chocolate usually also with Jam, or a cake similar to the American Toll House Pie.

Though Torino is home to Eataly and they do feel strongly about organic and healthy food, they did not have that many restaurants.It was hard to find one, then between the few options it was hard to find one not too fancy. Mostly Torino was filled with Cafe/Bars, then other than that there was a lot of fast food, not exactly pizzerias, but mainly Kebab, small sandwich stores, just small outlets, not really anywhere to grab a meal. Also pizza apparently is not a thing that North, because pizza was very Americanized in Torino, the crust was thicker, it was sliced and the flavor was different. The few places we could find were very local and had amazing food.

I do love the organic and healthy food movement aspect of Torino, I just wish there could be more restaurants to enjoy that movement!

On our trip we wandered the city and only were able to visit the Juventus Stadium and Egyptian Museum, both of which I will write a separate post for as there is a lot to say.

Another very good thing about Torino is that it is really off the tourist path, it is quiet and they didn’t seem used to as many non-Italian or French tourists. But if you are going to Italy I suggest you visit, we were told it is most beautiful in Summer. There are many museums, and the Olympic Stadium (second to the Juventus Stadium!)

I truly have never felt so in love with a city outside of Rome, I cannot wait to go back!

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Signs on the metro, so cute!

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Typical Architecture of the buildings, arches to walk under between the streets and the shops.

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