More Italian Food

First, I’d just like to note that if you haven’t seen them yet, I put some pictures up under the “Photos” tab, on the page entitled “Italy.” They were just taken with my phone, so they’re not the highest quality, but they actually turned out pretty good. I realized once I got here that the device I use to charge my rechargeable batteries for my real camera and my voice recorders does not have an energy converter, so I’m going to have to either conserver energy as much as possible or go buy some new batteries in town one day.
I’ve realized that this blog has pretty much become one that talks about Italian food. I didn’t mean for it to be that way, but I guess it’s expected. Food is a huge part of what they make, do and talk about. Plus, it’s what I love.
Before I left home, Ricardo’s mom told him that she was sure I was going to come back after two and a half months and love drinking coffee and red wine, both of which I don’t really like. I refused to believe it.
I have been especially adamant against drinking coffee. No matter how much I loved the smell, I always hated the taste. My first day in the caseificio, Pina asked if I wanted to have some coffee. I said no, as per usual. She looked at me a little weird, but didn’t press it. The next day, she poured me a little bit in a cup and said “Are you sure you don’t want to try it? Just a little, little bit?” So, feeling bad for refusing, I took the cup and drank. To my surprise, I liked it. Granted, she puts so much sugar in it, it barely has the taste of coffee, but still, I liked it. I didn’t even like the sweetest of coffee drinks when I was home. Since then (about two weeks ago) Pina has poured me a little more coffee each day. Yesterday she poured me just as much as everybody else and said “Hey! You like coffee now!” and I said “Yeah!” She smiled and said “Piano, piano,” or “Slowly, slowly.” They make their coffee (espresso) in these little metal pots that they put on the stove. There’s a small chamber that they fill with water on the bottom. The chamber for coffee is right above it and then the top chamber is screwed on. As the water boils, it avaporates and brings the coffee up to the top chamber where they then pour it into these tiny cups. When I told them that coffee where I’m from comes in cups the size of bowls, they were a little shocked. The cups are so tiny that they hold barely more than a couple sips. I was told the other day that I drink mine too slowly. The Italian people, I was then told, drink them so fast because they drink 7 or 8 a day. I haven’t gotten there yet, but “piano, piano.” My goal before I leave is to get myself one of the coffee makers and some little cups as well as a package of some good Italian coffee.
Much to my surprise, I have come to drink coffee more than red wine. Before I left, there were a couple red wines I could stand, so I figured it would be the first for me to like and the coffee would be next, if at all. I’m not going to lie; I’ve gotten quite tipsy at lunch a couple times already. This is for a combination of reasons. The first is that I rarely drink when I’m home, so my tolerance is fairly low. The second is because, despite my protests, Nonna Maria and Alberto like to pour me full cups that I feel bad wasting. That’s right, I said cups. They’re small ones, but it’s enough. The third is that by the time we get to lunch I don’t really have anything in my stomach.
It’s interesting because it tastes unlike any wine I’ve ever had, and I think it’s because they make it here at home. I haven’t actually asked them this yet, but I’ve found enough evidence now to be pretty confident in my conclusion. They recycle big bottles from other wines, sodas, water etc. and once they run out of wine in the cupboard, Nonno Alfredo takes a rack of the empty bottles up the pathway a little ways and comes back with full bottles of red wine. It’s fairly sweet (enough so that I can drink it), but it has this earthy taste to it. It’s sharp, almost like it’s carbonated, but I doubt that it is.It’s simple and made right here. I still haven’t been able to tell if it’s really strong in alcohol content or what, but there have been a couple times that I’ve had a hard time helping Nonna Maria sweep after lunch.
I have, however, officially discovered that they make a ton of salloumi’s here on the farm that they both sell in the caseificio with the cheese as well as eat every day at lunch. I like lunch meats when I’m home. But these are (as everything else I’ve tried here) are nothing like I’ve tasted. All the flavors are much more prevalent. Plus, there’s a ton more fat. I used to argue that I didn’t like bacon because of the fat, but I don’t think I can use that excuse any longer. Nonna Maria brought out some homemade pancetta today that I swear was at least 50 percent fat, if not more. It was delicious. Unfortunately, they make all the meats during the winter so there’s no way I’ll be able to learn how. Maybe, once I learn Italian more I can ask them to tell me at least. Even if I did it all correctly though I doubt it would be nearly as good as the stuff here.
So, enough about the food. There has been some other interesting things going on here. I’ve started to help one of the family friends learn English for an exam he is taking next week. It’s pretty funny because I haven’t had to think about grammar rules since I was a sophomore in high school and even then I don’t think I learned anything (I definitely don’t remember any of them). I know how to speak and write well enough, but attempting to explain things like the difference between “how much” and “how many” is really interesting. I’m pretty happy that I’ve grown up learning English because it is a really hard language to learn and it seems like everyone around the world has decided it’s the language to know. You know how “Dora the Explorerer” is used to teach kids Spanish in the U.S.? It’s used to teach English here.

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