3 Weeks Until I’m an Expat.

Bancarella di Salumi, Parma
Bancarella di Salumi, Parma

The countdown to my November 12th departure continues. In fact, in exactly 3 weeks I’ll be an expat. It hasn’t set in yet that I will be gone an entire year, but I am so excited to experience the world through food cultures. This is my dream.

I always said to myself that one day I would open a winery or start a food business, but back then all of that was just unsupported self-talk. I never truly thought this would be my future. I am proud of myself, of my determination to follow through with my goals, however unrealistic they once seemed.

I’ve learned that the world is an unpredictable place, and that your life, no matter how mundane, can change in an instant.

As my Gastronomy education progresses, I hope to learn more about the wine industry, as I would love to open a vineyard someday. I don’t need to live a lavish lifestyle, a small vineyard on the Italian countryside will do me just fine (if it happens to become wildly successful I obviously wouldn’t protest).

My future vineyard?
My future vineyard?

Even though the Italian consulate has made my life a living hell this week (I’ve had to drive up to LA twice because of documents I needed), hopefully I will get my visa before I leave. They have my passport so… I really don’t have another option.

Anyway, here are some photographs of my future home. Parma. And everything amazing that awaits me there.

Ci vediamo tra 3 settimane ragazzi!

Piazza Garibaldi
Piazza Garibaldi
Piazza del Duomo, Parma
Piazza del Duomo, Parma
Parmaggiano Reggiano Factory
Parmaggiano Reggiano Factory

Ciao!!

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Italian Bureaucracy, The Mess That is My Life

Sometimes when dealing with the Italian consulate I have to stop and ask myself what year it is…..2009 right?? Because the things that Italian bureaucracy requires in order for me to get a student visa are absolutely ridiculous. Thus far, I have spent over $500 on various documents, notaries, and apostilles (stamp of certification from the state dept). Who knew it would be so difficult to actually GET there..

Things I have had to do:

  • Get transcripts from both high school and college
  • TRANSLATE both transcripts into Italian, reformatted in the exact same way as English version (I saved myself about $300 dollars by doing this translation on my own)
  • Notaries on everything. I think I am going to notarize my forehead to certify my insanity.
  • Back and forth to the Italian consulate which mind you is in Los Angeles and getting there is like pulling teeth.

I leave for Italy in a month, less, and who knows if by then I will have all the documents I need to leave. This is a really tedious process. In fact, it might have been just as tedious to read about. Oops… Well now I am sufficiently stressed out..

It’s 10am… too early for a glass of wine?? haha!

Life in Anticipation

It’s funny. Now that people know I am going to this University in Italy, everyone asks me for wine recommendations, food recommendations, restaurant recommendations.. I feel like Jeffery Steingarten already (See: The Man Who Ate Everything)

I have been reading up all of these things about my school, about Carlo Petrini (founder of the Slow-Food movement and my personal hero), and have been talking with all my Italian friends about my anticipated return. This time it’s real folks, no 4 month excursion into uncharted waters, this is me LIVING in another place for an entire year. That is enough time to create a substantial life for myself.

It all happened so quickly too, one moment I’m sitting in my friend’s kitchen, playing on facebook, the next moment I’m taking a tour of my future grad school, and 4 weeks later I’m set to return for a year.

From what I have read so far, the students on my program get into some really interesting culinary situations, Such as:

  • Eating Donkey meat/drinking Donkey milk (donkeys produce milk?)
  • Raw Sea Urchin
  • Raw Clams
  • Unpastuerized dairy products
  • Horse (I’ve actually tried this raw, its pretty nice)

I am in training to be the next Anthony Bourdain, exploring the world one bite at a time.

I arrive on the 13th of November. That is when this adventure will truly begin.

Embracing my Inner Gastronome

Since being accepted to the Italian Gastronomy and Tourism program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, I have been doing some serious research on the school, the past and current students, and generally the life I should anticipate for myself in the coming year.

I have been absolutely thrilled at the things I have found. I have come across some really informative and interesting blogs from other students that have done the same program that I will soon do. Two examples of these blogs can be found at:

I have been making my best efforts to get into touch with these people before my program starts because I have already picked up on some important pointers on how to properly go about eating on my program. For example, on study trips we can expect to eat a lot of food, but not a lot of fibre, so they suggest we bring fiber supplements to eat along with regular meals to keep our digestive tracts happy. Who would have figured??

Anyway, here is a little more information from the website, An example Itinerary of a study trip we might be doing in Crete, Greece.

And here is a list of the classes I’ll be taking:

Anyway, I will be using Grassroots Gourmet to truly get into the nitty gritty of my studies in the next year and I have a very good feeling that I won’t be short on writing material. I even read one Iambic Cafe’s blog that we get to have an face to face session with Slow-Food founder, Carlo Petrini!! That man changed my LIFE!

Sometimes I have to pinch my arm to make sure all of this is actually happening.

Accepted to the University of Gastronomic Science in Italy!

Alrighty folks, looks like Grassroots Gourmet is in for another international facelift. After being abroad for nearly 2 months, traveling around Europe and doing almost no work at all besides eating/drinking myself to oblivion, I decided I needed to get my act together and really start planning my life around my interests!

So my final week in Italy I applied to the University of Gastronomic Science (Universita degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche) in Colorno, Italy (about 10km outside of Parma). The school was founded by Carlo Petrini, founder and mastermind behind the internationally known Slow Food movement. Not to be confused with a culinary school, the University of Gastronomic Science combines food culture, business, agricultural and ecologically sustainability practices to create a comprehensive knowledge of Italian Gastronomy.

Anyway, to my absolute delight, I was accepted to this university and will be starting classes in Colorno, Italy on November 18th 2009, the course lasts an entire year!

Click to see what my course list looks like http://unisg.it/pagine/eng/programs/master_in_italian_gastronomy_and_tourism/courses.lasso

I will be using this blog as a space to give detailed descriptions of what I learn in and outside of the classroom. This Masters course is basically foodie paradise. I am either going to come back morbidly obese, or a total yum wine connoisseur. Let’s hope the latter.

But nonetheless I am really excited to be sharing this experience with all my readers! Get ready for foodie paradise in the Italian countryside as I earn my masters in Italian Gastronomy and Tourism!! here we goooo!!