Parole: cavallo (horse), delizioso (delicious)
Sam and Lucas arrived this weekend! Sam spent the weekend getting caught up with some of his Italian friends in the area, and Lucas spent the weekend with us. Because Lucas is an English speaker, I found myself structuring my sentences in a simple form, and talking slower and more clearly, as we do when we are speaking English to a native Italian speaker. I caught myself doing it, and after that I made an effort to speak in my normal fast, mumbley, hard to understand American accent to him.
This past Saturday was the first Saturday that we spent in Parma. So, we did more exploring around the city and showed Lucas around. We visited the city’s market. The girls bought “Italia” socks. This market is much, much smaller than ones in other cities that we have visited. We also went to Parco Ducale. The park was full of couples (who made sure you knew they were couples), dogs, runners, walkers, bikers, and one roller-blader. There were so many people everywhere in the city! Now and then Lucas would say things like “This is so Italy”, referring to the hundreds of people strolling around the city, socializing, shopping, relaxing, and enjoying themselves. They were not in a hurry, and had no better place to be. Such a difference when compared to the American culture.
We exited the park on Via John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and walked through a food market, which featured local cheeses, salamis, and prosciutto. It looked delicious. Then, we headed went back toward the city center.
On our way, we found what I think is the best gelateria we have visited so far. Attica Due Torri, literarily meaning old two towers, gives you up to three flavors in generous portions on a cone for a whopping 1,70€. What a deal! I ordered a flavor called cookies, and another one called Due Torri. It was odd ordering the flavor called “cookies” since it was an English word and we ordered in Italian. The gelato was so delicious. We took pictures of the place and will make sure that we visit it again when we are on that side of town.
Next we found a store called “Scout”, which is a clothing store that we saw in Bologna. The girls wanted to go to, however we couldn’t find it when we tried to look for it again (or I “forgot” where it was). The Scout in Parma was neat, being retrofitted into an old stone building. It included three levels in the small space that it took up, and it still had an original statue inside the building. Scout is a little on the pricey side, especially if you are looking for Carhartt brand clothes. (getting closer to a Tractor Supply Company store!) Apparently Carhartt is the brand to have in Italy. Here, if you are wearing something that says Carhartt, it means that you are rich. This makes sense as a Carhartt T-shirt was priced at 40€. That is probably almost as much as my Carhartt bib-overalls!
We crossed the river, and went back to the city center, looking for a place to eat. We found a place that looked promising: Fair prices and a great menu posted for the evening. However, like most places, this osteria wouldn’t be open for another hour (8pm). So wondered around, and in the Italian way, we stopped at a bar for a glass of wine. It was less than 2€ for a glass of wine, and they provided us with chips and bread.
We returned to the osteria that we spotted earlier. It was called I Tre Porcellini, which literally means “the three little pigs”. It was delicious. I had gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce. For desert we ordered something called semifreddo¸ which translates to semi cold. It was so delicious, that we ordered a second one. We did some research and found out that it is a mixture of gelato and whipped cream, plus some other things.
The good food didn’t stop there. The next day Federico invited us to his farm. For lunch, we enjoyed Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with both authentic and commercially made balsamic vinegar, and with honey. Real balsamic vinegar has the consistency of molasses, and is sweeter than normal balsamic vinegar. Each year, people will add grape leaves to the top of a barrel to ferment, and drain the vinegar out the bottom. It takes years to get enough of it to use. For our primi piaitti, we had homemade lasagna (it was made by one of his neighbors who discovered that she makes really good lasagna, so she decided to start selling it). Our second dish was chicken in a mustard/cheese/oil type sauce. It was really good. Even though we were all completely full by this point, we also had apple pie, which was actually like a lemon cake with apples baked into it. This was a very filling and very delicious meal.
Since we were all stuffed full, we needed some exercise. Federico gave us a grand tour of his farm. It formally was a dairy farm, and now it is a hobby farm, with a pony, horses, donkeys, geese, a dog, and some cats. He has a stud and he breeds horses to sell.
Next, Federico and his wife, Elena, took two horses across the road, where his father lives and where more horses are boarded. We dressed the horses and saddled them up. We rode them around in a field behind the barn. The sky was clear, and we could see the mountains on the horizon as we rode horses into the sunset (well, I guess it was during sunset, but you get the idea).
After it began to get dark out, we headed inside for some tea and some pastries. Federico’s son, Samuele, (3 years old) was loving the attention that he had been getting from us all day. He used his counting skills to put spoonfulls of sugar in our tea. Then, when no one was not looking, he snuck an entire spoonful of sugar into his mouth. Based on his actions and his ability to entertain us throughout the day, it was very clear to us that Samuele was just like his father.
It was such a great day in the countryside. It was so nice to get away from a city environment and into open, green spaces to work with some animals and see another farm, and to be in a home. I want to send a HUGE thank you to the entire Righi family-especially Elena, who worked so hard making food for us and helping us with the horses. Again, the Italian hospitality is fantastic, as we felt so welcome by Federico’s entire family! The weekend worked out great for Lucas so he could experience our great little city and the Italian countryside in a family environment.
I have one more thing about food to add. Today, our food and culture instructor wanted us to experience our lessons first hand, so we went to another osteria. Federico and Sam Fessenden joined us, as we enjoyed another big meal. It included cheese from mild to strong in flavor, tortelli (not tortellini, its similar to ravioli) stuffed with potato, ricotta & herbs, and squash (ours was like a pumpkin filling, very sweet), and pesto di cavallo, which is seasoned, minced, raw horse meat. For dessert we had tiramisu and cheesecake covered with chocolate.
As you can tell from the food we have been eating, I will be eating sandwiches (without Nutella) and salads for the rest of the week. Lucas headed to Venice this morning to do some exploring there before he leaves Italy. As for us, we will be in classes and visiting farms.
Tags : Parmigiano-Reggiano, Righi Family, shopping, travel, visitors
Categories : In Parma, Trips