I can’t remember exactly when it was, but recently I learned an Italian phrase that I had never heard before: “fare la scarpetta.” Roughly translated “to do the little shoe,” the terms refer to the act of taking a piece … Continue reading
When I was in Italy I ate my fair share of tiramisu. During lunchtime at the Villa, the students eagerly waited to see if tiramisu would be served for dessert. The moments when the “pick-me-up” made its way to the … Continue reading
There is a classic saying that warns about having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” The danger of combining too many hot-headed, do-it-my-way-or-no-way, food obsessed people in an overheated, confined space is an increases risk a big flare up. The likelihood of it being the food or the people is equal.
Yet, when you manage to bring people together who have a real passion for flavors and cooking, the results can also be amazing. This was my experience during a weekend cooking with one of the suitemates. Continue reading
Some girls dream about their first house with a white picket fence, a large yard for the dog and the kids to run around, and a front porch complete with a rocking chair. While this image seems absolutely wonderful, my idea of my first home is very different. For me, images of a fence or a yard or a porch do not cross my mind. Instead, my dream home is based around what my kitchen would like.
When I was a little girl one of my favorite “toys” was my play kitchen. Though it was relatively simple compared to the ones today with battery-powered microwaves, light fixtures, and ovens that chime, I adored everything about it. I could spend hours placing plastic fruit in the blender for “smoothies” or flipping “eggs” in the fry pan to serve my dolls for breakfast. Playing in the kitchen, I felt like a mother, the person the family could rely on to literally put food on the table. Perhaps an early sign of my future love of cooking, those moments with that kitchen are some of my favorite memories of childhood. Continue reading
I have a secret I have to admit. Although I now feel like the reigning queen of all things Italian, including food, there was once a time when the idea of something wrapped in a tiny package, stuffed with cheese, and covered in sauce had no appeal to me.
I remember very clearly an evening at the dinner table when I was perhaps four or five years old. On my plate was a serving of ravioli, and there they rested for some time. Because my mom believed in the “you-either-eat-this-or-nothing” philosophy, I had very little choice but to succumb to the pressure of taking a bite of the Italian cheese pillows. I cannot recall what I thought after those initial bites, but I do remember the aftermath: me, isolated in the living room with a grape freeze pop watching as my mother cleaned up what remained of my dinner…on the floor. Continue reading
Flavia would be proud of my apartment’s pantry. My love of Italian food is no secret, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that my D.C. kitchen is all but stocked with Italian staple ingredients. Considering items like … Continue reading
I absolutely love summer. The sandy beaches, the seemingly endless hours of sunlight, and the late nights sitting around bonfires are just some of the highlights of the season. But perhaps my favorite aspect of summer is the refreshing and delicious bounty of food that accompanies its arrival.
Melting banana splits and scoops piled in a waffle cone. Hamburgers on the grill with potato salad and an ice-cold beer. Marshmallows on an open fire, toasted until golden brown and then smushed between two graham crackers and piece of chocolate. These are just a few of summer’s delights, and all of them are among my favorites. Yet though these reflect some of the season’s guiltiest pleasures, summer also offers some of the year’s healthiest ingredients. Think luscious, juicy berries; sweet and buttery corn on the cob; red-as-lips ripe tomatoes; fragrant basil that perfumes hands for hours. Continue reading
The first time all of us at the Villa heard about chocolate salami, none of us knew what to expect. It was the second week in Florence and already we had grown accustomed to overeating at lunchtime because of the incredible three course spread. To this day, it is still a great wonder to me how any of us managed to finish off multiple bowls of pasta, followed by plates of meats and cheese, while drinking glasses of wine and then still have room for dessert; but if you could have seen the desserts at the Villa, you would have found the room, too.
During this infamous dessert introduction, our Resident Advisor announced that the day’s dessert was a popular Italy treat often enjoyed alongside a cup of hot espresso. When pressed whether or not it would be something with Nutella, a torte, or perhaps even cannoli, she said we would just have to wait and see. So when the time came to line up at the buffet and pick up our plates for dessert, all of us were confused by the site of a treat that resembled processed meat. Fittingly enough, our RA said that was precisely why the dessert was called chocolate salami. Continue reading
Noticing my heightened interest in nutrition and meal choices, my mom encouraged me to cook dinner once a week for my family. Not only would it allow me the opportunity to spend time in the kitchen to prepare a meal, but my cooking would also encourage the family to eat healthier and lessen my mother’s burden of cooking. This suggestion came when I was fourteen. At first, I was very reluctant. What did I know about cooking beyond boiling water for pasta and reheating leftovers? Very little. However, I was willing to make the attempt and enter a domain that had long been foreign to me.
Admittedly, spending time in the kitchen initially induced a great deal of anxiety and fear. In high school, I became more conscious of the negative impact food could have on my physical appearance and behavior, and I came to realize the significance such factors could have on peer judgment. My relationship with food during my teens emphasizes Carole Counihan’s understanding about individuals’ concerns “with not eating too much or not letting food consume them. They fear losing the moral authority that comes from the self-control, and they fear the social condemnation that comes from being fat”. Food took this reign over me that created limits; I became so overwhelmed by the importance of nutrition and the negative aspects of my bodily image that I began to devalue food’s sensuousness. However, this all changed when I became a player in the kitchen. Continue reading
My Italian professor in Florence had a favorite saying: any time I or another student rushed through reading Italian sentences or sprinted out of the classroom at the conclusion of the day’s lesson, she would always say, “piano, piano.” Translated to mean “slowly, slowly,” the words served to remind us to slow down our pace to take the time to relax and appreciate the simple moments.
Of course, being all American students at a villa in Fiesole, the philosophy of piano piano was not easily adaptable. Used to running around with a caffeinated fix in one hand and a ringing cell phone in the other, we Americans are constantly on the move. In the United States, coffee shops and fast food chains can be found on every corner, and many stores proudly light up their 24-hour service displays. Americans live for the green light, the moment when they can step on the gas pedal and speed to the next stop and cross off another item on the to-do list. Continue reading