St. Valentine = San Valentino
Our group boarded a bus at 7:30 this morning to head to Bolzano, Italy, which is located in the South Tyrol region. Our purpose was to observe a multi-ethnic society, where three languages are spoken: German, Italian, and Ladin. Ladin is a lesser-known Romance language that is spoken in the valleys by a particular group of people. Most people know South Tyrol as a place where only German and Italian are spoken, but learning about the Ladin people was quite interesting. In South Tyrol, everyone has a right to be educated in their mother tongue. For this reason, public schools offer both major languages, and local universities such as the Free University of Bolzano are tri-lingual (Italian, German, English.)
At lunch, we had little tea sandwiches featuring Tyrolean cuisine. I was surprised to bite into a tuna sandwich, which reminded me of my childhood. My mom always used to make me tuna sandwiches. The rolling hills of Bolzano that peaked between the buildings downtown also reminded me of home. In San Diego, the winter landscape looks very similar.
When we returned, I was delighted to find flowers from Samuel at the front desk for Valentine's Day. I was equally happy when I heard that the card I sent him via the "Ink" app had arrived. Sam had called a local Italian florist. This all made me feel fortunate to live in a time that it is so easy to remain connected across thousands of miles.
tomato = pomodoro
Today, my roommate and I cleared off our kitchen table and put our skills from the cooking class to test. We made gnocchi di patate, or potato gnocchi. Our gnocchi had only two simple ingredients: flour and potato. Juli and I discussed how these simple and cheap ingredients have likely made gnocchi a staple for poorer communities in Italy. Gnocchi can also be made with sweet potato (something I want to try), pumpkin, carrot, or beet and goat cheese... a flavorful, upscale version of the original.
Our experience making gnocchi at home went well: the result was tasty. However, the process of boiling, grating, mixing (with flour), rolling and cutting the potatoes certainly made us gain a greater appreciation for the chefs who make gnocchi in-house at nice restaurants. We did not shape the gnocchi, as that would have added another 30 minutes to the process.
We covered our gnocchi in pomodoro sauce and Parmesan cheese. Gustare (enjoy!)
Laundry room / laundromat = La lavanderia
Today, I did my laundry for the first time while in Italy. I made it just under a month thanks to my strategic packing of a number of tees and tanks for wearing underneath sweaters. The laundry pile was high - but still less than I usually wash in the States. I'd say it was a medium sized American load of laundry.
In Italy, it was extra large. The tiny washing machine costs 4 Euro, so I was stuffing all of my clothes into the washer with little "breathing room" left. It was a side-load washer, so this was a bit of a challenge as clothes kept toppling out as the barrel rotated when I added more. Eventually, I was successful at putting my entire load into one washer.
The dryer was larger and cost 3 Euro. The longest duration was 41 minutes... which had me skeptical that my clothes wouldn't be dry, because at home it usually takes 70-80 minutes to completely rid them of dampness.
Indeed, my clothes were damp out of the dryer. On the phone to my boyfriend Samuel when I was folding my clothes, I mentioned this and he said he had the same problem on study abroad in Germany, and would end up running the dryer cycle 2-3 times. We concluded that maybe the Europeans, with their eco-conscious automatic lights, have lowered the wattage of dryers or placed limits on drying time. A noble effort, but not worth clothes smelling musty after being folded damp.
To wash and dry my laundry was a little pricey - about $8 USD. Thankfully, there is a warm towel drying rack in my bathroom where I can finish the job!