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Archive for June, 2012

The above title sums up the meal we very much enjoyed last night. Firstly, we just can’t stress enough how boring pasta can get…. There are other things you can do with pasta than the same old tomato sauce or with pesto and veggies! I mean, it’s delicious, but not day after day after day. Not to sound ungrateful; everything at Galbusera Bianca is very high-quality and healthy but after a week and a half of the same lunches and dinners, it gets a little… old.

Jacqueline, Ana, Loran & I took the initiative to try out something local and highly recommended. The head chef at GB mentioned he had had some of the best food at this place–Nuova Trattoria Belvedere– so we thought we’d try it out. The evening was sooo beautiful and the walk much too short.

We decided to eat outside in the covered terrace….it was beautiful. Our waiter (who I believe was also the owner) was so very patient with us, even apologizing for his broken English. Silly. We knew right away that the food was going to be good; they didn’t have a menu but instead offered courses that changed daily. Fresh! We all shared a litre of red wine and the antipasti. The cheese was melt-in-your-mouth creamy. Delicious. Perfect. One of the cheeses was aged a year and it had a strong creamy tang, the others were not quite so strong, but just as creamy. For the main course Ana and I each had homemade pasta stuffed with a mild cheese & arugula and was drenched in sage butter. Jacqueline and Loran tried rabbit! It smelled like fried chicken; they both reeeeeally enjoyed it. Dessert? YES PLEASE. Chocolate cake consisting of: flour, eggs, chocolate. Heavenly. As for the conversation, it too was delicious & vulgur & fun. I know that in a month Loran and I are going to seriously appreciate the fact that there were two other American WWOOFers on this farm with us. We get each other’s humour, it’s great. I will miss them.

 We walked home with surprisingly not-too-light wallets, stuffed bellies, and ridiculously tipsy and inappropriate conversation. I feel like last night was sort of what I had been waiting for in this trip. A really excellent meal, camaraderie, & a late-night stroll, laughing hard enough to wake the village.

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The Italians have a lovely expression that complements a person of their healthy appetite. They will say a person is una buona forchetta [for-KE-ta]; lit. “a good fork”. It’s such a great saying and we were taught it after a sweaty, muggy day working outdoors; we were certainly very good forks that night. But with such amazing spreads as these, how could we not be?

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Loran and I have the pleasure of working with a young Italian couple, Sylvia and Toti, who speak English(!) and have been such a help in getting us started; Anna, who lives in Lithuania but is from West Virginia; Roberto, full-blown Italian, speaks very little English but is already a great teacher; and  Jacqueline who has been living in France and is originally from San Fransisco.

After an evening of good food and great company, our first full day on the farm began with a breakfast of caffé (the kind brewed in an authentic “espresso”pot), biscotti (not true biscotti, but little buttery cookies), and muesli with milk that may have been sweetened. Not exactly what we’re used to, and not entirely satisfying, but filling all the same. The night before had thundered & lighting’d, leaving us with a soggy morning, and so instead of trudging through the gardens we worked on the terrace, stripping dried herbs from their stems. For four hours we chatted and stripped, chatted and stripped, comparing our cultures and teaching each other jokes, figures of speech, tongue twisters. My personal favorite was the Italian tongue twister, “Tre tigre contro tre tigre” (three tigers against three tigers) to which we Americans countered “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…”.

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We are learning so much already and particularly enjoying the cultural differences between Europe (specifically Italy) and the U.S. There were four discussions we found the most interesting…

  • In the U.S. we rarely participate in political discourse/debate. Instead we practically attack people with our opinions, and get offended too easily. Toti and Sylvia explained to us that in Italy (& I’m sure many places of Europe in general) politics is simply something to discuss, another topic of conversation. If people don’t agree, they usually just laugh it off or tease; we get sulky and defensive!
  • Eating sensitivities!! In Italy if someone comments about your healthy appetite, it’s taken as an appreciation, a positive thing. Here in the States, of course, it is a highly sensitive issue, and again: we get very offended—“are you saying I’m FAT?!”
  • Italy and France have this interesting competitiveness about them, similar to our “competition” with England, though much less subtle. Sylvia loved telling us about how the French have such high opinions of themselves and their belief that everything from France is superior (especially wine, cheese, etc).
  • This I found most interesting: Toti and Sylvia spent a good deal of time in Costa Rica, taking busses the ENTIRE way. They told us they had a great time, good experience, no problems. When they came to the USA, specifically NYC, their experience was quite different. They had a customs official yell at them to stay single file in line and would refuse to answer simple questions. Sylvia told us that she felt much more threatened in that situation than in any she encountered in Costa Rica. Interesting, interesting.

We’ve been having a lot of fun, and the tasks haven’t been the same every day, which is great. Loran and I have picked strawberries and sugar peas, set up tomato trellises, and mucked around in a lot of manure.

Check back soon. We hope to update with a little something on our East Coast travels & definitely more pictures of the great food & beautiful region.

Ciao!!

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