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.

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My Internship: An Homage to Pork

So there I was, sitting nervously across the table from the marketing director of Ferrarini, a family owned company that produces typical products from Emilia Romagna (Prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar, Lambrusco, etc.). I look around me, studying the hanging legs of cured pork, its salty sweet perfume permeates the room. Coming to from my pork induced daze, I realize the director has been studying my every move since the moment I walked into the office.

Preparing to ask his first question, my heart skips a beat, “So why do you care about Italian food? To me it would make more sense for an American to want to promote his own culinary culture no?.” Great. His seemingly nonchalant question has me starting to sweat. I look to the pork for support. “Well, sir, most modern American food corporations of similar size to Ferrarini have been overwhelmed by mass industry. No longer is there passion, or pride in the product being produced. Ferrarini, is a large company, but is family owned, serving consumers products that are Mr. Ferrarini himself would serve to members of his own family.”

This was obviously a good answer, because I saw Mr. Marketing crack a smile. After a series of more demanding questions, I convinced the folks at Ferrarini to take me under their wing, and offer me an internship. I am hoping that this turns into a full-time paying gig… but only time will tell..

I can see it now, my religiously Jewish high school writes an article in the school paper titled “Alums, Where Are They Now?” and there I will be, the President of Pork. An overplayed oxymoron that happens to be my reality. Sorry God, but when opportunity calls….

I start working in mid-June, on various projects they have proposed, particularly involving my internet skills. See mom? I told you my internet addiction would turn out to be positive 😉

Future, Here I Come...

Oh So Bittersweet: A Day with Balsamic Vinegar

Shopping in American supermarkets, passing the salad dressing isle, it is not so out of the ordinary to see “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena”, your run of the mill balsimic vinegar, used typically to dress salads, clean sinks, etc. However, the product we were taken to see yesterday was far from this acidic liquid we Americans have come to know as Balsamic Vinegar.

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar

Oh yes, I am talking about Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia. Unlike the watery substance you know as Balsamic Vinegar, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia is so concentrated that it has a deliciously smooth and syrupy consistency. It is also much more expensive than your regular 2 dollar bottle of vinegar. The traditional stuff, aged at a minumum of 3 years (all the way up to 25+) ranges in prince from 60Euro to 90 Euro! WHAT?! for VINEGAR~?!

This is a prized possesion out here. It tastes deliciously sweet, and unlike anything you would expect. The gourmet version of the vinegar is usually enjoyed with dessert (rather than as a salad condiment, unless of course your salad consists of leaves of gold 😉 ) Typically with strawberries or large chunks of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

What is balsamic vinegar? Cooked grape must and a little bit of caramel, aged in wooden barrels for long long long periods of time. As each season passes, the balsamic mixture is placed into smaller barrels in order to keep up with its increasing density.

Very delicious, very expensive, very Emilia Romagna.