Monday, December 04, 2006

Week 3.

Dear friends and family,

If you know me at all, you know that I spend a great deal of time thinking about food. We all do, but, really, how many people do you know who write in their journals about portion size? Here are just a few observations:

- The refrigerators are much smaller than in America, and only restaurants have microwaves.
- At the grocery store, you have to pay € .05 for shopping bags and € 2 for shopping carts. (Baskets, though, are free.)
- There is no such thing as a "doggie bag" or "to-go box" from a sit-down restaurant.
- Everything comes in smaller portions. You can buy milk in 1/4 and 1/2 liters...I've yet to see a gallon-sized carton.

It all comes down to only taking what you need and eating the freshest foods possible. Given these facts, I now understand why one of the only 4 movies I saw for sale at the bookstore was Super-size Me. America must seem quite wasteful to a society that so strongly emphasizes such careful planning for mealtimes.

From a consumer's standpoint, the pausa pranza is very frustrating. Shops and restaurants shut down from about 12 - 4 pm every day for an extended lunch break. When I think about it, though, it's really quite nice that the culture emphasizes the importance of sitting down and taking the time to enjoy the mid-day meal. Everything is always rushrushrush in America, but in the end, taking pleasure in these sort of things probably makes for a richer life than trying to maximize the output of every minute of every day. That's enough pulpit-speak, though.
I still love Nutella, but I have some new favorites, too. I've consumed almost a full liter of blood orange juice (spremuta di arance rosse di Sicilia) in the last 24 hours. I'm not sure, but I think blood oranges only grow in Sicily. Maybe not. Either way...they make delightful juice...more like grapefruit juice than your traditional OJ, but not quite as acidic. I'm also fairly addicted to coco muesli yogurt--coconut yogurt with cereal, essentially. There are no less than 4 different kinds of cheese in my refrigerator at this moment. Last night I made pear and cheese ravioli with pesto for dinner. In the States, a meal like that would have cost a fortune, but all the ingredients combined probably only cost about € 5 here.
I swear that I do more than just eat over here, though.

This past weekend was fairly mellow, as I woke up sick on Friday and had to call off the day trip I had planned to Arezzo, a town my poetry professor from SLU had recommended for its frescos and the fact that it had a record store. My roommates encountered some difficulties in their attempts to see Rome, and ended up back in Florence. It was nice to get to know them a little better. Sunday we went to the Boboli Gardens, which were simply stunning. I plan to return at least a time or two more, even though it's a steep € 8 to get in. At the top of the gardens, there is a gorgeous view of the Tuscan hillside. Standing up there, looking over the city, surrounded by greenerey, I found myself able to breathe much more easily than down in the city. I find myself enjoying the pastoral parts of Italy much more this time around. I saw the major historical sites when I was here four years ago with my Latin class. Now I'm more concerned with slowing down and taking it all in.

My friend Natalie, who is studying in Vienna this summer, might be coming down this weekend. If she comes, I think I'll join her in an adventure to Siena. They have a big horse race on my birthday there...if I can get out of attending orientation a second time, I might try to see what that's all about.

Classes are moving right along. I learned yesterday that one of my photography teachers worked as an assistant to both Iriving Penn and Annie Leibowitz. He speaks with a great deal of passion, and believes that it is very important to be politically conscious in order to take good photographs. I suppose it makes a great deal of sense...I'd never thought of there being a direct correlation before. The other instructor for that class is much more focused on the technical side of things. I'm definitely learning a lot more about photography from this class than I did from the two classes I took on the subject at SLU.
Advanced Italian is still challenging, but not overwhelming. I think I really am understanding more of people's conversations walking down the street everyday, and that's a pleasant feeling.
I would like to write more, but I really ought to go study.

If you would like to try and call, you can do so by dialing 011 39 + 3357146602.
I have class from about 3 - 9 pm Monday thru Thursday...and we're 7 hours ahead of Central Time, so I'll let you do the math. My incoming calls are free!

You can also send me snail mail addressed in the following manner:
Grace A. Woodard
c/o Florence University of the Arts
via Magliabechi, n 1
50122 Firenze, Italia

I miss you all! Please be in touch soon!



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