Parole: rompere (to break), pianificare (to plan),
Wow! I can’t believe that it has been 12 days since my last post! This last week was the final week of the coursework portion of our exchange program, so naturally it was a busy one. We have the next two weeks off and when we come back, our work experiences will begin.
Last Friday with our Food Safety class, we visited the Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’ Emilia Romagna. This more or less means we went an organization which does consulting, experiments, and lab work for anything that has to do with animals and food. There is an entire network of these institutes across Italy, and the one in Brescia is the headquarters for the regions of Lombardia and Emilia Romagna, and is where the milk testing lab is. We learned a lot about what the Instituto does, and toured the facilities. They began milk testing for quality reasons as it was related to milk pricing. Now they do tests on individual cow’s samples and daily bulk tank samples. They also test the long term stability of foods in their “challenge lab”, where they make foods or new food ideas from producers and see what happens from a microbiological standpoint.
Dairy Farm, Horse Breeding, and a Milk Processing plant
Tuesday, we went on a surprise field trip with Giovanni and Giuseppe for ag systems, and we visited a 450 cow dairy farm with a 30 stall herringbone rotary parlor. The workers stand on the inside of this rotary, and it only requires 2 workers because they can walk straight across the middle instead of around the outside of the carousel. They also have many horses they use for breeding, some beef cattle, and lots of solar panels. We saw a couple fouls that were born within the past week.
After lunch, we went to a latteria¸ which processes Provolone Dolce and Provolone Picante (like a sharper, more flavorful cheese, not necessarily “hot and spicy), Grana Padano (a cheese that is made in a process similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano, however is not the same as it), UHT milk, and fresh milk. We toured the cheese making facilities and at the end, we got to taste some cheeses in the cutting room. The Provolone was the best that I have had. It was Picante, and had a strong flavor. After the cheese facilities, we toured the fresh milk processing and we were each given a liter bottle of milk. That milk was the first fresh milk we have had here in Italy. We usually but the UHT milk because it is cheaper and does not need to be refrigerated (yeah it takes some getting used to seeing milk on a shelf. Eggs don’t seem to be refrigerated in stores either). The UHT packaging is especially neat because the containers are filled aseptically, meaning without coming into contact with air after pasteurization. This means they are filled in a vacuum. It was a productive day and it was interesting to see what a commercial, “American sized” milk processing facility looks like here in Italy.
Down the road we have a small TIM store. TIM is telecom Italian Mobile—my cell phone carrier here. The same two women are always working in the store whenever we visit. Last weekend, I gave in and bought an internet key—it was just too frustrating at times not having internet in the apartment. It was also a really good deal. When you buy an internet key, they need to copy your passport. The women know some English, and were reading the “We the people…” section of the passport, and said “we want to go to New York! How about you run the TIM store and we come to New York?” Today I stopped in to put some more credit on my phone, and when we walk by we make sure that we wave. It’s fun to get to know and talk with the locals.
Wednesday we went to a seminar in the morning on Silages and Inoculants presented by Dr. Limin Kung Jr, PhD from the University of Delaware. It was presented to the Faculty in English, and Federico had to translate to Italian. He did a great job. After, we went to dinner with some faculty members and with Dr. Kung. Dr. Kung knows Van Amburgh and Overton, speaks at a lot of meetings in the northeast, and does research with the Miner Institute.
Dinner with Bentley
Thursday night we were invited to go to dinner with our Cultural Aspects of Food professor—Stefano. He teaches for the ALMA Culinary institute, and his class of 20 American students was going to an authentic Sardinian dinner, and he invited us along. As always, it was delicious. We had many antipasti, and the main dish was a suckling pig. The antipasti included cold cuts, salami, dried eggplant, tomatoes, breads, and a minced fish in a sauce with celery sticks. The pig was juicy and delicious. We also had a red wine to accompany the meal. Most of the antipasti had cheese on them. Usually it was some type of sheep cheese, as sheep farming and cheese making is very popular in Sardinia. The restaurant owner himself is Sardinian, and he came out several times to check on us. It was a very filling and a meal that was worth the money.
For me, this week has been full of both good and bad things. On a good note, this week Federico gave us the bikes that he has been telling us all about. It is so nice to bike to and from the Vet campus. When you include walking to the bus station and the tardiness of the bus system, going to the faculty by bus can be a 30 to 50 minute commute. On bikes? I have made it in 9. Everything is so flat around here too, so it is easier than biking around Ithaca. The only hills we have are to go under the rail on each side of the river. These hills also cause some problems.
Being a road bike, “ol’ red”, my bike, has a few gears to choose from, but the only way to change the gear is to take the chain off. Let’s just say that my bike thought it was time to shift. Read that as I was coasting fast back up hill after going fast downhill under the train tracks, and the chain came off. I coasted to the top of the hill and tried to get it back on. I noticed that the chain was on the second smallest gear that day, and it seemed like it was pedaling harder than it was the previous days, leading me to think that the chain slipped to the smaller gear at some point (as the sprockets are not light up straight with each other). So I wanted to put it on the next gear, where I thought that it was before. I put the chain on the rear sprocket and popped it on the front one, but I popped it on too tight. The bearing is bad that the rear sprocket is on, and it pulled it forward with all of the pressure of the tight chain, and now it doesn’t pedal at all. Looks like I need to loosen the rear wheel and slide it forward to get the chain back off and maybe put a new bearing on it. Guess I will be borrowing some tools from Federico soon.
To top things off, I also do not have a camera. My trustee GE J1455 camera bit the dust this week—or rather, got bit by pavement. I don’t really understand how it happened entirely, but as I was pulling it out of my pocket to take a picture, it fell to the ground, on the lens, with the lens extended. No more pictures from that camera. The lens rattles, there is no picture, and the screen says better luck next time.
Friday we went to the Fiera, which is an exhibition center. It has many open halls and buildings for exhibitors. This weekend the Cibus tour is there, and it features local producers and displays with the Slow Food Foundation. The Slow Food Foundation purchases foods from small, traditional producers and markets them, in order for the producer to remain in business. We tasted so many samples of balsamic vinegars, oils, salamis, cured meats, and cheeses. We also picked up a lot of literature on local producers. Further, we also saw the producer that we visited last week with Bentley, who made the Culatello for the upcoming Royal Wedding.
Now is the start to spring break. We will be busy traveling somewhat separate ways as we meet up with other friends studying all around Europe. This means it may be a while before I write again.
Tags : caseificio, field trip, Ithaca
Categories : In Parma