Friday, May 30, 2008

My Last Week of Classes at ALMA

Buon Giorno tutti!
Well … I’m back in Italia and my last week of school is complete. What a fun week it was! We studied Sardegna (Sardinia) and Sicilia (Sicily). The guest chefs were great! I’m attaching a couple of snaps of some food I made this week.

Sardgena is a fascinating island. A little history: Amazingly the inhabitants date back thousands of years. Around 1000 BC Phoenicians set up several ports of trade. Around 500 BC Carthinigans made an appearance and took over the island. Around 200 BC the Roman Republic stepped in and took control. From 450-550 AD the Byzantine’s made their appearance. The Arabs and Berbers showed up around 800 and by 900 the island became divided into four provinces called “giudicati,” which helped local defense. Hmm ... let’s see, Spain then conquered the island around 1400, and by 1700 it became vassal of the Savoy family in Piedmonte. In the early 1800’s it became unified with Italy. So – what does that all mean for food? Well – a lot of wonderful cultural influences to their cuisine! Almonds, candied fruits, lamb, tuna and a wonderful dried pasta called fregola (one of my favorites!). The wines were wonderful too – especially the whites – and I don’t really like white wine all that much. Very yummy!!

Sicilia was even better. Sicilia has an abundant quantity of artichokes, eggplant and beautiful tomatoes. They also have the largest farming of tuna in the Mediterranean. It’s the largest island in the Mediterranean, colonized by the Greeks in 750 BC. The colonization of Sicilia followed a similar path as Sardegna as well as introducing the foods of the cuisine. When Larry comes back with Elinor in March to bring me home we’re going to take a small side trip to Sicilia to visit the Reina relatives. (I can’t wait!!)

Larry and I took off from Colorno yesterday (Sunday) and arrived in Rivisondoli last night. We stopped by the restaurant and met the Chef briefly. We were taken to my living accommodations, which were sadly not appropriate. They proposed to have me staying in a small hotel room with three other girls, two miles away. So this morning I was on the phone with ALMA working out a resolution. It’s possible they will have to move me to another region. It’s a bit disappointing because I was so looking forward to working in Abruzzo. But we will see how things pan out in the next 24 hours. All I can say is that I am SO grateful Larry is here with me this week.
Keep an eye out next week for my next installment!
I miss you all … xo, Maria

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