Parole: antipasti (appetizer), sole (sun, something present in Italy and not New York)
I find nothing more encouraging than a burst of spring weather after some rain. Yesterday was one of those dreary and rainy days. Add that to the time change that we had this weekend (which I did not realize was occurring until 11am the day of the time change), and it sure makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Usually I am up and awake with the sun shining into my room; however, the darker mornings have made for some tired awakenings.
The spring weather is great. This afternoon is breezy and sunny. The weather on my computer’s desktop says that it is 64 degrees F here, and 28 degrees F in Ithaca. I think I made the right decision here. This morning I could smell fresh cut grass and blossoming trees as I walked to the bus station. Currently, I am sitting in Parco Vetrai, which can be seen from my window in the apartment. It is less than a 5 minute walk away. I am sitting here writing, listening to an old man hit rocks with his push lawn mower, watching dogs run around, and trying to catch some Italian words that dog owners are yelling. (Even the dogs know Italian! I better get cracking on this whole language barrier thing.) There is internet here in the park too. It is provided by the same service as what we get in the apartment, however, it is a different access point, which seems to be more reliable thus far. Life is good.
Yesterday we visited a farm in the mountains with Federico and Prof. Quarantelli—Federico’s boss. We went on more extremely curvy and narrow two way roads. The purpose of this visit was to investigate into some problems that the farm is having with nutrition, which is causing problems with laminitis and mastitis. The feedstuff, which is fed to cows individually as pellets at grain feeding stations, seems to have some vitamin deficiencies. Last summer, Federico’s lab tested the amount of vitamins in the pellets, and the amount was far less than what the feed bill says it should have been. Now they are with a different feed company and are trying to figure out some more nutritional issues.
A lot of the farm visits that we make are ones similar to what Cornell’s Cooperative Extension service does. The professors do a lot of consulting for farmers as problems arise. There is no extension service in Italy. Federico says he would like to start one for Parma, but there is no money for it.
Following the farm visit, we ate a very big lunch. Our antipasti was a pizza-type bread, however instead of sauce and cheese, it had ham, sausage, and some vegetables. For our primi piatto, we had polenta. Polenta is traditionally a food for poor people. It is basically cornmeal mixed with boiling water. We tried three different toppings on our polenta: mushrooms, 4 cheese, and ragu. I liked ragu the best. Ragu (not to be confused with the tomato sauce company in the States) refers to a tomato sauce with meat in it, and the ragu polenta also had strips of bacon on top. For our secundo piatto, we had pork cooked in a balsamic vinegar sauce. It was just right in terms of the strength of the vinegar. Finally, for dolce, we had salame di cioccolato, which is basically chocolate cookie dough with some pieces of nuts or chocolate in it, sliced to looked like salami. It was a very filling meal.
On the way home from the farm, I rode in the front of the van with Quarantelli. His English is limited, as is my Italian (however everyone, including us, Italian students we meet, and the staff that we work with, have become more proficient in each other’s languages). So, from an observer, it would look like Quarentelli and I were playing charades. We would talk about companies that we drive by, high speed trains that would speed past us on the accompanying rail, and about the different types of crops and fruit trees along the road, using hand signals to try to describe what we were talking about. It’s fun to decipher and figure out what words and phrases really mean.
Well, that is all for now. I am going to type up some notes here in the park and enjoy the sun while it lasts. I am sure it will be raining again soon.
Tags : field trip, Ithaca, Spring, weather
Categories : In Parma