Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting in Touch with my Feminine Side

I have been very domestic in Italy. I haven't really cooked
consistently in a while, much to D & S's chagrin, I'm sure. It's been
mostly heating up prepared meal type things from Costco. However,
here we've been eating at home mostly, so I've been making dinner and
packing lunches to take with us into the city. D's gotten a lot of
home cooked meals-gnocchi with tomato cream sauce, baked rigatoni with
sausage, cannelloni, calamari, roasted eggplant, etc. Have no fear,
we have eaten well in Italy J Plus, I've been wanting to make
chocolate chip cookies for Andrea, so I did a trial run today with D
as my willing guinea pig.

It was interesting. First of all, I don't have any measuring cups or
spoons (I think our host mostly uses his oven to store extra dishes),
no cookie sheet, and no mixer. Then, I had to go to two stores before
I found flour. I never found brown sugar, so I settled for Sugar in
the Raw. I also never found chocolate chips, so I bought a big
chocolate bar and chopped it into chunks. I couldn't find vanilla
extract, but I did find some sort of ultra concentrated vanilla
flavoring, and I just plum forgot the baking soda. Not to mention
even if I wanted to get it now, I doubt they have it, as baking is
something I've decided they just don't do here. Using a mixing bowl
and a wooden spoon, I managed to get the batter together (boy did I
miss my Kitchen-Aid) and I put the cookies on a broiler pan (the
closest he has to a cookie sheet). They baked okay, and even look
pretty normal, just a little lighter without the brown sugar.
Unfortunately, I realized he does not have a spatula, either. I tried
transferring the cookies to a plate with two forks with mixed results.
After my first batch of 9 cookies, I decided that I'd make cookie
bars instead and dumped the rest of the dough in his one Pyrex type
dish. This actually turned out really well, so I think he'll be
getting cookie bars. Plus, if the cookies are a complete flop we got
him a soccer shirt of his favorite team as back up.

If cooking and baking were not enough, I have even done some good
old-fashioned sewing. D managed to rip a couple of holes in a pair of
cargo shorts (absolutely essential because of all the pocket space),
so we had to hunt down a needle and thread and figure out how to
communicate at the Singer store that we wanted a regular needle not a
sewing machine needle. The Singer Store only sold machine needles, so
we went to a couple more stores before eventually finding what we
needed. Aside from a couple of stuffed owls I made recently for two
of my favorite kids (I miss you!), I haven't sewed since I was about
13 in 4-H and even then the only thing I did by hand was
whip-stitching a hem. D's shorts definitely look like someone with
very little sewing prowess fixed them, but they should hold for the
trip. We actually went to a couple of clothing stores and looked for
shorts. D didn't really care for the European style. Did you know
that they have men's capris over here? I've even seen men wearing

I am also the one who figured out how to use the washing machine. I
tried to explain to D how it was a matter of figuring out the
different sections of the dial and how they corresponded to the same
sections at home, but he got that same glazed look in his eyes that I
get when he talks about COBOL or the beauty of electron orbits. It
made sense to me.

In addition to bringing out my domestic side, I've never been more
aware of how female I am in Italy. I had heard that in Argentina
random men will come up and hit on you, but I didn't realize they did
it in Italy. I have been hit on in public a total of two times my
entire life in the US. I had men say stuff to me and whistle four
times in just the first day we went to Rome. At first I wasn't sure
if that was what was happening, but it became a pattern. I think the
funniest time was when an entire truck full (about 5 guys) whistled
and made comments while making direct eye contact with me a couple of
days ago while waiting for he bus. They totally even looked like
construction workers. It's been a bit surreal, and D's presence
doesn't seem to make a bit of difference. Ignoring them seems to be
enough for them to not pursue anything further, but I have to say it's
been a bit of an ego boost!



  1. I'm impressed that you even know the term, "Whip-stiching." My mother used to say, "just whip the hem." Yea, right. Major smiles on the ego boosts. Enjoy! Mimi