Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday - the female perspective

Well, I thought I should probably put in my two cents worth. Daniel spends most of the evening either typing for the blog or doing window acrobatics to post the blog, plus I'm usually falling asleep on the couch, so I thought I'd try the morning shift while Daniel is still in bed. It is if Carolina is with me in spirit, because even though we have gone through a time change, I still wake up every morning at 6am when she normally wakes me up to come watch her eat breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, Daniel is currently in Nutella heaven. There's not much in the way of cereal around here, although we do have a box of cornflakes. Still, seemed like a good idea to embrace the bread and nutella for breakfast habit. Apparently it's popular because Nutella comes in like 5 sizes here, including one made of glass with cartoon characters on it, so you can save it as a drinking glass. I have drunk out of one such Pink Panther glass that our host had in the cabinet. Making coffee has been more difficult that I thought. I was sure I was set bringing a grinder, my favorite beans, and a press. Unfortunately, I forgot that the coffeegrinder is 120v, and so I can't actually use it. I've been trying various methods of crushing and cutting the beans on my own. It sort of works, but creates weak coffee resembling coffee flavored tea. It's better than nothing, I suppose. I did have a strong but drinkable Cafe Americano at McDonald's yesterday. I still can't bring myself to try the sludge-like espresso that is everywhere.

We are already going to the market daily, if nothing else, to get bread. They have giant loaves of fresh bread with a very hard crust (read-crack a tooth crusty), and they are nice and slice off as much of the loaf as you want and charge you by weight. We've discovered it's stale after 24 hours, and can maybe stretch it 48 hours if you plan to toast it (in the oven, no toaster here). Actually, no microwave either, so we are back to Daniel's hamburger helper college days of make the baked pasta, put the dish in the fridge, and then put it back in the oven each night. Cooking has been interesting, but not too difficult. We arrived to find a giant bowl full of the real deal link sausage defrosting in the fridge for us. Andrea assured us "is good." It was good, and surprisingly lean. I've been trying to incorporate it into our meals, but I don't think I really can eat that much sausage. He also left us a hunk of spicy salami that smells like pepperoni, but I admit I'm a little afraid of that. I was told that Southern Italian cooking is less about spice and more about fresh ingredients. That has held true so far. The pizza is simple but good, and most things are not seasoned with much more than salt. I had lasagna in a restaurant yesterday. The pasta and cheese were very fresh and delicious, but the sauce was basically just tomato sauce. Even our host only had two spices in his house--salt and rosemary. He's got pepper now,too. I have this urge to load my pockets up with little spice jar and "kick it up a notch" as Emeril would say. We've had gelato a couple of times, but I think I've decided again, that while the ingredients are fresh, it's a bit too creamy for me and the flavor is not intense enough. It's possible I just haven't had good gelato yet, as I am told there can be a big difference between places, but I think it's a texture thing for me. Now I'm on the hunt for Italian ice. I read there were little carts selling it in Rome, but I haven't seen any yet. I am looking forward to the rich flavors of French cooking.

We came home last night and reevaluated what we still wanted to see and dicovered we were way too efficient the first day without meaning to. It looks like we have a day for Vatican touring (next Tuesday) and Wednesday we are going to see the Borghese Gallery (where they will only let you in for two hours), Jewish Ghetto, and Travstevere, and a couple of churches. However, this will mean we will have seen everything on our to do list and more in only three days. We could keep going in, but it would be for things like the museum that traces the history of Latin Language (I can hear Sarah H. getting excited) or one of the many "this is what's left of our sculpture" museums. I love sculpture, so I was a little sad to discover that aside from the Borghese and the Vatican, most of the art and sculpture museums resemble the Forum. "Here's a half a column that used to be a Temple," only at the art museums its more like, "While missing both arms, a chunck out of the hip, and half her face, this is clearly a fine example of an ancient statute of Venus." Daniel and I decided we just can't get too excited about ruins that are mostly just rubble. My imagination only goes so far. I was particularly disgusted reading this huge plaque in the Forum about this amazing equestrian statute that was supposed to be right in front of us. I kept asking Daniel, "Am I blind, I just don't see it?" Finally, D discovered in the fine print that all that was left of the statue was a line of square blocks in the grass. I guess if Harrison Ford, a hat, and a whip aren't involved, archeology doesn't hold our attention for long. It reminded me of when I took a summer archeology class with Mr. McGrew. He was actually disappointed with me. "You really don't like this, do you?" I think my reply had something do do with extreme boredom.

Still, I love the feel of Rome and all of the beautiful winding streets. They are so narrow you think they are pedestrian walkways, but in fact traffic goes down them both ways--thankfully they seem to be both understanding and patient with pedestrians. There are flowers everywhere, especially in the countryside, where red poppies grow wild. It's a lovely city to just absorb and take in. We are about 30 km from the center of Rome in Albano Laizle, not Castel Gandolfo as we originally thought, although it is only about a mile away. Where we are staying is more a working man's town, where Castel Gandolofo appears to be all lake houses for the rich. That means where we are staying is a normal town with a grocery store, cheap places to eat, etc., which is actually better for us. I also really like being out where it is smaller and quieter to recoop at night. Since it appears we will have some extra time when we are not in Rome, I'm trying to explore options in the countryside since it has been so pretty. I think we might go to Trivoli where there is a large estate that is similiar to Versailles. I would also like to take the train up through Tuscany to Florence, but I have yet to have good enough Internet to see how much that would cost. Plus, we seem to need a recoop day of not doing much for every day like yesterday. I think our goals today are sleep, see a bit more of Albano Laizle and do some laundry.

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