Cooking Miracles

Cooking is the way to anyone’s heart, myself included. I have fallen in love with all of the restaurants here in Italy for the delicious food they have served me. From pizzas to pasta to bruschetta, every night I seem to say, “this is the best ___ I’ve ever had!”

While I’ve been to many tasty restaurants, I have also had some scrumptious home-cooked food. One of my favorite nights was when a few other students and I cooked a dinner together in my apartment and then ate outside in our apartment’s garden.

We evenly split up the work between cooking, making the salad, setting the table, and chopping vegetables. At the end of it all we had a lovely meal before us: a salad with fresh tomatoes, a pasta stir-fry with vegetables, chicken, and pesto, and, of course, a glass of wine.

Cooking meals alone can be difficult, but when we cook meals together a masterpiece is formed!

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Our meal right before digging in. Yum!

Visit this website to learn more about the proper nutrition to get in each meal, healthy eating tips, recipes, and much more.

The following are some pictures of the great food I’ve had since coming to Italy!

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My first taste of bruschetta in Venice!

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Pesto pasta

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Marinara Pizza on our first night in Ascoli

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A sample of everything from the buffet on our first lunch in Ascoli

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Potato/Potato, Tomato/Tomato

I thought I would be at a great advantage to learn Italian because of the 5 years of Spanish I took in school, but no. Spanish and Italian are alike in all the wrong ways and the similarities and differences seem to only confuse me.

For instance:

In Spanish, “the school” is “la escuela.”

In Italian, “the school” is “la scuola.”

As you can see, the words are very similar, but not quite the same. Not only does this apply to the sound of words, but also the meaning.

In Spanish, “andar” means “to walk.”

In Italian “andare” means “to go.”

To walk somewhere and to go somewhere are largely the same thing, but not completely the same. This causes some confusion for me as the Spanish rules, pronunciations, and conjugations come out and I say the Spanish “y” for “and” rather than the Italian “e.”

Learning Italian has been a difficult task, but I know that I am lucky to be able to learn the language as I stay in Italy. While my classmates who aren’t taking Italian struggle to order at restaurants or at the market, I, ever so slightly, have an advantage.

Before I came to Italy, I prepped with this Youtube channel so that I would know at least some words. Click the link to learn for yourself!

IMG_2994Piazza del Popolo at night!

 

 

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Welcome to Ascoli Piceno!

It’s about time for you all to be introduced to the city I get to call home for 4 weeks of this amazing trip. Ascoli Piceno is a small city of about 60,000 people on the eastern coast of Italy. It is only about a 45 minute train ride from the Adriatic Sea.

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Ascoli is a beautiful city with mountainous views, grand architecture, relaxing river-beaches, and an inspiring vitality of life about it.

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I thought it might be interesting to share some impressions I have of the city after a little over 1 week of living here:

1) No matter how late you think you can stay up, Italians can stay up later. Kids, adults, and even the elderly stay up to times of the night that my 21-year-old self finds ridiculous.

2) Men in tights twirling flags is a thing. Don’t question it.

3) Italians will continue to try to talk to you in Italian even when you make it clear that “no parlo italiano.” The best thing to do is just nod and smile.

4) A whole pizza is yours and yours alone. Finally a country that realizes two slices of pizza is just not enough! Why not eat a whole pizza?

5) The trek up the stairs to your apartment alone is enough to work off the pizza/pasta calories that threaten you after every meal.

6) Dogs are nice. For once no dogs jumping on you and barking at every turn you make. Ascoli is a place where the dogs trot along with their owners, accepting the fact that other people and dogs share the streets with them. Maybe I have potential in becoming a dog person after all!

7) Wine goes with everything, but not too much!

Now for some pictures from the first fun-filled week!

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The Adriatic Coast

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Beautiful Piazza del Popolo

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Our house dog, Isotta

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With a friend on my apartment’s terrace

To learn more about Ascoli, visit their website here. You can translate the page in Google Translate.

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Beautiful Entryways

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Recipe: Apple Strudel

Strudel is not something you would think of as Italian, but in the northern region it is! In a part of Italy that was once Austria, we learned how to make the perfect apple strudel. Try it and enjoy!

3 or 4 apples (peeled and sliced thinly)

The lemon peel and lemon juice of one lemon (peel grated)

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons rum

1/4 cup biscotti (crushed)

1 egg (beaten)

Phyllo dough (store-bought or you can make your own dough)

Mix all ingredients except egg and dough all together in a bowl. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface into a symmetrical shape. Place the apple mixture onto the middle of the dough and spread, leaving room to fold up the sides. Fold two opposite edges up about one inch and spread egg mixture on edges. Fold the other two edges in, making sure that the whole apple mixture is covered and using the egg mixture between pieces of dough (for stickiness). Cover the whole surface with the egg mixture and sprinkle sugar on top (makes the surface crunchy after baking). Poke a few small slits into the surface of the pastry. Bake at 300 degrees F for 25 minutes or until cooked. If desired sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Before baking the final product should look similar to this:

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After baking:

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Ice cream or gelato? That is the question.

I have forever had a good relationship with American ice cream. After working at an ice cream shop and restaurant for over 5 years, I now know the value of a well-scooped cone.

As I saw friend after friend head to Europe to study abroad, they all came back raving about Italian gelato. The flat kind or the puffy kind? The cone or the cup? I knew I HAD to try it. What made it so much better than regular American ice cream? The actual flavor and taste or the environment that surrounds the gelateria?

So far in Italy, I have had at least 6 cones of gelato and each cone is somehow different from the next. From the way it is scooped to the creaminess to the size, no two cones are alike. Luckily, I am not shy to indulge in this frozen treat.

As for ice cream or gelato? Honestly, they taste more or less the same to me, but somehow gelato takes the cake. Maybe it’s the ring of the name or the beautiful architecture staring down at me as I eat it or maybe it’s the dry heat or the flags and bands marching with insane precision as I hold my cone. No matter what the reason, Italian gelato has a sort of magic that plain old American ice cream will never have.

For more information on the difference between gelato and ice cream follow this link.

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Recipe: Bread Dumplings in Broth

At our hotel in San Martino we had the opportunity to attend a cooking class. In groups we prepared these simple bread dumplings. They were very tasty and took only minutes to put together. Enjoy!

8 slices of stale bread (chopped)

1/3 cup browned onion

5 bacon strips (cooked and chopped)

Chopped parsley

3 tablespoons milk

3 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons flour (add more as needed for consistency)

 

1) Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and knead together with hands until it forms the consistency of paste that no longer sticks to hands (add more flour if needed).

2) With damp hands, roll mixture into balls slightly larger than golf balls.

3) Fry balls in butter on stove top or boil in broth.

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