Culture Shock and Making Formaggio

Ciao a tutti!

Finally I’m able to get online to do a post! It’s been a crazy first week, let me tell you. This is gonna be a long post so I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read it all.

It was quite an adventure making the trek from Boise to Morano, but 27 hours later (by plane, train, bus and car) I made it. The area is absolutely gorgeous and the town beautiful, as are the people.

Of course, no amount of study in my anthropology classes could prepare me for the actual feeling of culture shock. It hit me especially hard since I’d never been out of the country before (Canada and a cruise hardly count) and because the language barrier is harder to get past than I thought. By the time I left Boise, I could understand my teacher speak even when she was talking full speed, but here the accent is very thick. They drop a lot of the vowels and leave out a lot of words, so it’s been hard to get accustomed to.

Plus, no matter how much you study different cultures and read about them, attempting to become a part of a family of a completely different culture is a lot harder than I was prepared for. There are two big things that I have had to try to get accustomed to: first, the way they clean; and second, the way they eat. After lunch every afternoon, everything is cleaned: the floor is swept (sometimes mopped), the dishes washed, and the stove cleaned. Any food not eaten is saved, composted, or fed to the cats. Everything gets eaten in some way or another. Eating is a whole other thing. Now, I’m used to my Italian-American family eating all the time, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how much my Italian nonna would want to feed me. If there’s one word I will leave the country knowing it’s “Mangia! Mangia!” or “Eat!” Breakfast is a cup of tea and some biscotti. While we work, we eat more (biscotti, cake, little chocolate filled pastries etc). Lunch is the big meal, with three courses. There’s the primo (pasta or soup) the secondo with contorni (the main course with vegetables, bread, cheese, salami etc) and then dolce (fruit). I am constantly told to take more and more food and told “non mangi niente” or “”you don’t eat anything!” I’m lucky that the food is not only delicious, but a lot more healthy than a lot of what I eat when I’m home.

As for the work, it’s been quite interesting so far. Monday through Friday we make fresh ricotta that is sold in stores in the nearby towns or Morano and Castrovillari (and another I can’t remember the name of). Then we clean. And clean. They clean everything. All the equipment, the floors, the walls and the cheese. Since they make mainly hard cheeses, the cheese age in refrigerators where the temperature and the humidity are controlled. Then they grow mold. A lot of my day is spent in the fridges cleaning the mold of the cheese and flipping them so that they age correctly and the rind forms right. The finished product is really beautiful.

Anyway. I think that’s all I have time for right about now, but I’ll post again soon! Access to internet is a little difficult at the moment, but once I get into the swing of things, it’ll get better.



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