May 29, 2010

When In Rome...You Eat American food?

Hello Strangers! It has been too long since I have blogged and I have too much to catch up on!
It is Saturday here in Roma and it has been a pleasant day of doing nothing (no school work, no papers!) We just got back from our Southern trip yesterday and it was the last day of our Nutrition 399 class taught my Dr. Probart (bittersweet). Good thing: No more 50 course meals! Bad thing: We need to cook and buy our own food and no more field trips: real legit classes in a classroom at the Pantheon Institute. But that is really not a bad thing though, it will be fun! We will finally have time to cook in our kitchen and go food shopping at the fun markets! (We are actually making our own homemade pasta tonight! fun! fun!)
Hopefully we will all recover from our food comas and as some say...'our food babies'
No kidding, I have never eaten so much in one day! But it was pretty cool to have a class that incorporated eating Italian foods as a part of our grade.
Anyways, onto my adventures:
Going back to TWO weeks ago before we left for the NORTHERN trip, some of my roommates discovered a Hard Rock cafe here in Rome that was located pretty close to our apartment. Obviously they went crazy and they wanted to go! I wasn't going to go at first (not everyone was going) because I told myself I wasn't going to eat any Americanized food while here in Italy (McDonalds and such). But I caved in and went. It was a different experience and it felt like we were in America while sitting inside. And it was funny because the place was filled with Americans! Probably ~3 or 4 Italians in the entire restaurant? Everyone was craving cheeseburgers and with all the talk, I was craving one too! I feel a tad bit better about eating the meat here in Italy rather than back home in America because obviously it is not factory farmed and filled with antibiotic growth hormones. But when I saw how it was cooked (rare) I couldn't stomach it and I didn't feel like explaining 'well done' to the waitress, they seem to not eat red meat 'well done' But that was ok, I ordered a salad! A chicken ceasar salad to be exact. Everything was delicious and tasted just like America...but...everyone was sick the next day. Not sick, but gross feeling and sluggish. See! This shows how different the food is here compared to at home. It is fresh. It is whole. It is natural. When I come home, my body is going to say... 'what is this?'
Even though we are eating massive amounts of food, it is whole and fresh food. Most of what we eat everyday has been just freshly picked. It is amazing! I love it! I can already see the difference in the change of my hair quality and skin. It is the pure goodness of the food here (and I give a lot of credit to the tons of olive oil that we eat here to my healthy hair).
Here are some pictures of the inside:
Hard Rock, Roma style!


After our adventures at the Hard Rock cafe, we needed to wake up bright and early the next day to go on a market walk with Dr. Probart.

I love the market walks! I learn and see so much!

Sahira's tidbit: {To shop in Italy is to be thrust, head reeling, heart pumping and mouth watering, into the heart of Italian life. A market is a heady experience that drips with vitality, and butcher's shops can be gruesome yet inspiring. The caseificio where you buy cheese can be the place where the cheese was made only hours before, and the person selling it to you may even be the cheese-maker}.

Our first stop, the cheese shop. (the Caseificio, as I mentioned above)

Pecorino Romano! Salty goodness.

Italy has a number of over 450 different cheeses! Italians love their formaggio (cheese). Cheese is used in every course of the meal. No vegans here! :)

A pecorino (as seen above and below), made from ewe's milk, most are part-cooked and have a semi-firm texture and nutty/salty taste.

A mountain of the salty goodness!

A huge array of meats, cheeses, olives, yum.

They also had some sweets.

We bought some mozzarella from this cheese shop above.

Next we walked to the outside market to find some tomatoes and basil. Do you see the artichokes? They are a beautiful mix of a plum purple and forest green color.

Dr. Probart trying to find some good tomatoes.

It is interesting to see how the Italians sell their fresh fish at these markets. The fish sits out all day on ice. It's fresh, alright! They were stinky fish. ew.

We stopped one more place (no picture), the bread bakery to get some fresh pane.

After the market walk was complete, we all went back to our apartment, including Dr. Probart, and she gave us a mini lesson on how to make insalata caprese. We used a variety of three different mozzarella cheeses that were bought from the market walk, and two different kinds of tomatoes (pomodoro) to see if we could taste the difference.

Here is Dr. Probart showing us how to properly wash the basil leaves.

Our three different types of mozzarella.

One was a packaged grocery store brand, one was a low-fat, and the last was the mozzarella di bufala (the full fat, yum mozzarella cheese) More on this cheese later, we went to the factory to learn the making of this during our south trip.

We got blood oranges for dolce.

Mixing the olive oil and basil with the tomatoes.

Our assembly line of caprese creations. That is our pomodoro pane next to the oranges.

My plate.


Now, let's talk about my northern Italy trip (two weeks ago). The northern trip consisted of traveling to Orvieto, Pienza (Tuscany), Florence, Modena, and Parma.

Here is the first picture that I took in Orvieto. It was very pretty there, very little town. We didn't spend much time here, ~2 hours. We had a quick architecture lecture then we were off to Tuscany.

More beautiful scenic views.


Pienza (aka: Tuscany)

In Tuscany, we stayed at the S. Anna in Camprena

Here is my bed. It was very comfortable compared to my bed here in Rome. :)

The hallway.

The walkway lined with lemon trees into the S. Anna in Camprena.

Where we had our lecture.

The wonderful smelling flowers that were on the table.


After lecture, we went upstairs to what used to be the old kitchen in this monestary. We had a cheese tasting!

The different types of cheeses that we tasted before dinner. They were vecchio cheeses (old/aged).

This was the area where they cooked their pigs.

This was how they made grain for bread and pasta. The whole seed grains would go into the hole and was turned while holding onto the stick sticking out above, the grinding process.

Some close up shots of the 'precious cheese'

This was the most aged out of the three that were tasted, and it was of a very hard consistency.

This was the youngest of the aged cheese and was my favorite. It reminded me of a muenster cheese texture but not flavor.

Hard to cut!

This one I thought was pure beauty! It was aged in grapes, as you can see from the color. It tasted like the younger aged cheese with a mixture of wine. It was different yet delightful.

That is the grape stem that is sticking up. :)

My slice of the younger aged cheese, my favorite one out of the three.

The grape infused was my second favorite. I didn't care too much for the old aged harder one. It had a woodsy moldy taste to it.

After cheese tasting, we changed for dinner. But before dinner, we went outside and captured some beauty of the regions of Tuscany.

Getting artsy. :)

The hills of Tuscany were GORGEOUS! I have never seen anything like it!

It was as though someone had carved out the ground and made these smooth flowing hills.


More olive trees. :)

It was so peaceful and quiet. We were in the middle of no where. My camera couldn't capture (at least, I think.)the wonderfulness that I was seeing (the whole picturesque view) but I tried my best to get good pictures so you could see.

A very old, fancy looking olive tree.

Dr. Probart and her sister.

The outside view of the S. Anna in Camprena.

Then it was time for dinner!

Our table.

My place setting.

Our first course, panzanella salad. I didn't think I would like this as much as I did because I am not a huge fan of soggy bread, but I am in Italy and the Italians know how to do it right!
This is a starter meal that is eaten in the Tuscan regions made from *usually* stale Tuscan bread, which has no salt, and is mixed with tomato, onion, lettuce, anchovies, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and salt. It was delicious, light, and refreshing.


Let's just say, this was the best soup that I have ever had! It also had the non-salted Tuscan bread incorporated into it. It was like a butternut squash base and it had chick peas and pasta within. We were told that the fresh rosemary as well as many of the other ingredients in our meal, were freshly picked right outside before the preparation of dinner. My olfactory senses were going crazy! :)

Grilled vegetables and meat.


The group at the end of our Tuscan journey. Next, we were off to Florence!

Coming up: All about Florence, Modena, and Parma. Tomorrow...I PROMISE. Then I can catch up on talking about my southern Italy trip. And I will be all caught up before my second nutrition class starts on Monday!

Talk to you soon!

Love and Kisses.



The High Family said...

LOVED this post! The pictures of Tuscany are stunningly BEAUTIFUL! It makes me want to jump a plane and come visit. ;)

It was so wonderful to skype with you tonight. I am sure we will chat tomorrow (or today over there!)!!!

Miss ya! xo

Mom Mom Copenhaver said...

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie ... that's amore'.

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! Sahira, you look like you are having so much fun. I hope I am right by my implications. I am sooo jealous. I miss you A LOT, and cannot wait for you to come home, so you can tell me all your amazing stories. I love you much, and I hope to talk to you soon.

Be safe and have fun,

Momma said...

Fabulous! Brings back fond memories of Italy! Looking forward to you making these Italian dishes! I hope your lactose intolerance isn't affecting you! Miss you!