Stream of Consciousness

It has been almost 6 months since I’ve written here. I apologize to all of my readers that I have been away so long, but in the past 6 months I have undergone one of the most challenging periods of my life thus far. This post isn’t your typical Grassroots Gourmet organic food diatribe, but rather, a therapeutic stream of consciousness exercise that I need to clear my mind. I hope you’ll be able to follow….

For the past 2 years I’ve felt like a woman without a home base. I live in a country where my legal status is questionable, in an apartment that isn’t my own, constantly feeling blockaded by matters of the heart and mind. What is this anxiety that I’ve allowed to rule my every action? I am allowing the very foundation of my personality to succumb to the erosion of my external circumstance. In situations such as this we so desperately seek a balance, but it’s difficult to find under such immense pressure.

I now understand how all the illegal aliens of the United States feel, part of a group, a nation, but always alienated by the mind-rotting thought of being torn away from the small empire upon which they have constructed their lives.

A most important question arises, where do we go from here? Is there a point that we must decide that the lives we lead will no longer result in positive outcomes, a point where we realize that no matter how hard we try to make things work, ultimately the structure will crumble like cliffs into the sea.

Here I am, I offer myself entirely to fate, as it is this belief, this element of hope that allows humanity push on in times of difficulty, in times of strife. The human mind is strong, but when one reaches the tipping point, the question we must ask ourselves is “will we persevere, or will we breathe in the water of a strong tide and let it sweep us away?”

Life pushes on, whether we like it or not. We cannot stop time, but simply float along with this design that is much more complicated than our comprehension. We have two options, to latch on to this intricate web we call society, or simply let go and fade away.

A saving grace can be found in pursuing passion. In finding something you love and putting every ounce of energy (both negative and positive) into maintaining this element of our individualism. It isn’t always easy, but it is much better than any medication.

When I write I allow the blank page to consume my thoughts entirely. Every word I write is direct proof of progress, a creation all my own that delivers direct satisfaction of the endeavours of my persona.

What is your passion? Take a moment to think about it, to really immerse yourself in the thoughts and activities that allow to emboss your existence in the rhythm of life.

This is my legacy. What’s yours?

Clandestino Chaos

Parma, Italy

 

The lack of posts can be easily justified by the explanation of the utter chaos and insanity that has been endured in the past 3 weeks of my life. I know most of you come to this blog to read about the adventures of my stomach, but this time the only thing my stomach wanted to do was flip and eject itself from the rest of my body (no I did not suffer a digestive virus).

Here is the a list of events that may contribute to the development of my unforeseen schizophrenia:

1) The organization of Italian Bureaucracy is like a scene out of a 3 stooges film. One person bumping into the next, running in circles around each other trying to feign some thread of structure. This has thus made my immigration process absolutely laughable….to say the least I was given an appointment in MARCH to meet with the immigration office.

2) I currently live in a hotel, and my residence naturally, has been booked by someone else in January, forcing me to find a new place to live in very little time. The upcoming Christmas season does not help.

3) I GOT A JOB! As a gastronomic tour guide for Parma Golosa, a food centered travel agency here in Parma. I’ll be giving Americans tours of Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto, and Balsamic Vinegar factories here in the area. They’re even giving me a car!

After all this mess, I’ve come to realize that my life is like a Woody Allen film…only perhaps a little bit less intelligent.

We’ll have to see what’s in store for the next installment of “My Life is a Mess.”

Buon Appetito.

Parmesan Paradise: Chapter 2

After a year filled of cured meats, fine cheeses, and endlessly flowing wine, the end of my course at the University of Gastronomic Sciences was not enough to get me to leave my ‘hometown’ of Parma. Unfortunately, in the last week of my stay in the school provided apartments, I realized that soon I would find myself without a place to live, unemployed, and illegally undocumented in a European country….luckily this is Italy, and rules are more of a social suggestion than something strictly followed.

It was my last day in the school provided housing, I desperately wandered the cobblestone streets of Parma, eyes glazed over by the overwhelming pressure to find a place within 24 hours of my predetermined departure. This was crunch time. I went to the center of local classifieds which turned out to be like a scene from Midnight Express. Little pieces of handwritten housing requests pinned up on a never ending wall of pixelated colors. I left the office discouraged and mentally trying to prepare for my return into the United States.

As a final effort, I found myself in Parma’s historical center in Piazza Duomo at the famous and elegant hotel Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati. I knew this hotel doubled as a long-term residence and I asked the man at the counter how much I would have to spend to rent an apartment in the next 24 hours. He gave me a price of 1600 euro and my mouth dropped open. I felt a sense of overwhelming doom, feeling my vision closing in. Like a rat’s final attempt of escape from the grip of a cobra, I somewhat jokingly asked him if I could work for the hotel instead of pay….a kind of ‘dishwasher’ deal.

He smiled with surprise, and accepted my offer. I now live in the heart of Parma’s most beautiful streets, working for a Michelin rated hotel, and have begun the second chapter of my Italian life. In life the best things tend to happen at the last minute. Let’s see what this adventure has in store.

New Beginnings and a Potential Partner for Pasta

The moment has arrived, my graduation from the University of Gastronomic Sciences is coming up this Friday. A sad time indeed, this is a moment of strange transitions and uncomfortable changes. Important questions like, what side of the Atlantic Ocean will I be living on in 10 days, did my 18 years of education amount to anything? Can I still properly speak English? are all coming to slap me in the face as my year living in Italy might be potentially coming to an end…

BUT THERE IS HOPE! I have an interview with Barilla (yes the lord of pasta) on Thursday for the potential to have a 6 month marketing internship living in Parma and doing what I do best… eating. I am crossing my fingers and toes that this works out, but as most things usually happen for me, the best things come at the last minute.

My other option is running away to my friend’s house in the hills of Tuscany to hide from the government as my visa expires.. This is a highly highly probable idea.

Nonetheless, in this moment of indecision and fear, I continue to eat and drink with determination…Consistency folks, Consistency.

Grassroots Gourmet: Adopted by Italia

I’ve been picked up! Aside from the many Italian suitors that want to take me out for aperitivo (haha), Made In Kitchen, an Italian food website, has given me a column on their website. To them, I am the token American who has fallen deeply in love with their cuisine, excited to share my eating and drinking experiences with Italians who are hungry for an international opinion.

Every Wednesday, one of my articles will be published, exploring my discoveries of their beloved comestible specialties. The only problem? I HAVE TO WRITE THE ARTICLES IN ITALIAN! At first this proved to be an enormous challenge. Hell, I have been writing about food for the better part of 2 years, but now I have to do it in another language?! oy.

The first of my articles was published this week, and though my grammar is sub-par, I was able to get the message across that I am an absolute glutton for delicious food.

Here’s the link: An American in Parma…. Though my English speaking readers probably won’t understand the article, I consider this a serious achievement. I wrote about my experience at the Prosciutto di Parma factory. Living in Parma gives me some serious access to good eats, I may as well capitalize on my surroundings!

More articles to come, and considering my ‘bi-lingual’ writing abilities, this will definitely be an interesting development, both for Grassroots Gourmet, and my personal self worth 😉

If you want to follow my posts on Made in Kitchen, create an account, it’s really easy. The only problem is my articles will only appear on the Italian version of the site.

Keepin’ it Grassroots folks, or as they say in Italian, dedicato ai miei radici (dedicated to my roots).

Buona Giornata e Mangia!!!!

I Should Never Hike, Again.

As I mentioned before, my little weekend escape to the little valley of Pozza di Fassa in the region of Trentino Alto-Adige definitely did not disappoint, we took in the beautiful sights, we ate, we drank…beer mostly, and oh, did I mention we hiked up a 2300 meter (7, 545 ft) MOUNTAIN?!?!?!

Andrea thought it would be a nice idea to take a nice “camminata” or “walk” in the mountains seen that it was such a beautiful sunny day. Ignorantly I obliged, not having a clue what I was getting myself into. To say the least, this was not a walk, this was not even something that could closely resemble a nice stroll in the forest. Oh no, this was an uphill battle, in the most literal sense, that required not only hiking boots, but a hiking stick and some serious endurance.

Now I’d like to add that before this experience, I thought I was relatively in shape. Sure I eat and drink professionally, but I also go to the gym every now and then. Hell I can run on the tredmill for 45 minutes without dying! But any kind of previous physical training I may have had did not prepare me for the hike up to the refuge of San Nicolò.

View from the Top

I huffed and puffed, and sweated, and slipped, various times almost meeting my fate distorted at the bottom of a large revine. Seeing my boyfriend slowly getting smaller and smaller as he advanced the trail ahead of me, my vision blurred, I was tired, and thirsty, and highly looking forward to my reward Forst beer, brewed locally in the area. Trees began to take on the shapes of beer mugs, and rocks, ice. After a gruelling 3.5 hours of uphill hiking, we made it and sat down to a well deserved lunch.

I had a nice big bowl of pasta fagioli ( a type of bean and pasta soup) with a big mug of beer. It was the best beer I’ve ever had in my life, but I am not sure if that was because my legs were beginning to give out, or because it truly was that good.

Nonetheless, despite the physical endurance, my little vacation to Alto-adige was definitely an enlightening experience. To say the least, I don’t think I’ll be hiking again for a long, long while…unless of course I can do it with a camel pack of ice cold beer free flowing from a cooler strapped to my back. 😉

Alpine Getaway

Shalom a Tutti and L’shanah Tovah (I like to integrate my cultures) ;-). For those of my Jewish readers I wanted to start off this entry by wishing you a very sweet and happy Rosh Hashanah! I hope you all have an amazing year.

This weekend my boyfriend and I are heading off once again to the mountains of Trentino to escape our busy lives of professional eating and drinking (well, my life to be specific). Now that the weather has cooled down here in Parma, I think it is officially safe to say that the death heat of the parmesan summer has subsided, making it finally manageable to sleep in my bed without sweating profusely. mmm.

Pozza di Fassa

We will be going to his quaint little house in the city of Pozza di Fassa in the Italian region of Trentino Alto-Adige. As far as food specialties go, this area of Italy definitely does not disappoint. Well known for its exquisite wines including Müller Thurgau, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon, Lagrein, and Gerwurztraminer. These wines are light, and slightly sweet, similar to many wines you might find in Austria or Germany (this area is heavily influenced by Germanic cultures).

The food here is also quite delicious. Famous for their cheeses and cured meats, my favorite of which being Speck, I am sure I will come home with a full stomach and an expanded waist line….What’s new?

Speck
Strudel

I’ll be back on Sunday evening with a packed week ahead of me working on websites for my internship at Ferrarini, including I Sapori Della Nostra Terra and the E-shop for those of you who want to buy all the amazing things I get to eat on a daily basis. Unfortunately we don’t yet ship to the USA but for those of you jet setters and native Europeans this is the perfect opportunity to get a little taste of Grassroots Gourmet.
As Paula Deen would say, Best wishes and Happy dishes

Ciao!

For more information on traveling in Trentino please click here