Week 4: Markets and Wine

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It is sad to see our Roman adventure coming to a close, however we have made so many amazing memories that will always hold a special place in my heart. One memory that comes to mind is the distinct, pungent smell of fish upon walking into a market. Although this was not one of my favorite experiences while in Rome, apparently it can serve as a sign of a good Roman Market. One thing that I did love about the markets was all of the fresh fruits! All of the beautiful, ripe, in season fruits looked like what I imagined a traditional market to be like. There were cherries, bananas, Pomegranates, peaches and many more juicy treats. I quickly realized that there was much more to the markets than just fruits and vegetables. There was every kind of nut you could possibly imagine along with a section with fresh meat and seafood. My favorite market that we visited was the last one: Testaccio. It was interesting to me that the Romans are not as fond of this market as they once had been. Although I found the modern upgrades a refreshing change from the other markets we had visited, the Romans do not appreciate such modernization. They like the traditional markets better, and feel that they preserve their culture much more than an air-conditioned marketplace with tourist friendly restaurants surrounding it. One issue that people could have with the markets is the limited hours of service. They tend to only be open in the morning, or they close in the early afternoon. Because of this, most working Romans cannot manage many market trips a week. This has caused a rise in the popularity of supermarkets. We became very familiar with our local grocery store “Simply Market.” There we were able to find everything we could have needed from toiletries to food. It was sort of like a small Walmart or Winn Dixie. However, we quickly discovered that they do not stay opened all night like our Walmarts. They close at 8pm. This interrupted our American mindset of being able to run to the store whenever we felt like it. Many days we would plan our time around making it to the grocery store before it closed. This is very different than in America, where everything is conveniently almost always open. Another thing that is culturally different in America than in Italy is the consumption of wine. Wine in Italy is served frequently with meals as a compliment. This is as opposed to in America, a group of people getting together for a “wine night” with the intentions of getting intoxicated. The drinking laws in Italy are much less restrictive than in America, however it does not seem to be an issue. Although I did not get asked for I.D. one time, I also did not see very many Italians out to have only a drink. Italians almost always drink with food. In fact, everywhere we went and ordered only alcoholic beverages, food of some sort(bread, cookies, etc) was brought out as well. Another thing that Italians are more aware of is the term Terroir. This term means that the specific place or land where something is grown has an effect on the quality. When applied to wines, it means that there are many different regions each growing grapes of different flavor and quality. Therefore each regions wine is specific to the type of grape they grow.

Week 4 Day 4: Chicken with Mushrooms and Arugula

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Chicken is something that is a staple in my American diet, and I have noticed that it is not as commonly found in Italy.  When I saw this dish on the menu it looked like something that I would definitely like.  It was delicious.  The chicken was seasoned perfectly and the mushrooms were good too.  The chicken and mushrooms were accompanied by Arugula.  This leafy vegetable has been served with at least one of my meals every day of this trip.  It has a slightly bitter taste that I am not particularly fond of.

Week 4 Day 3: Meatballs

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To my surprise, spaghetti and meatballs has not been a staple in my Italian diet as I would have imagined.  However meatballs have been served to me on their own many times during my trip.  At first, I found it strange to be served only meatballs for dinner, but when I started understanding the way in which Italians eat it made more sense.  Typically the pasta (maybe spaghetti) would be served prior to the course containing meat (maybe meatballs).  These are called the primo and the segunda respectively.  The meatballs I got today were made of beef, but we have been served meatballs containing pork or veal before as well. They have all been very good.  They are similar to what we would find in America, except they are much smoother and finely ground than our typical meatballs.

Week 4 Day 2: Olive Oil

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On our trip to the vineyards in Frascati I learned that not only is wine made there, but also Olive Oil.  We got to taste the Olive Oil made there on some slices of bread.  It was delicious.  The difference from olive oils used in America was definitely noticeable.  There are different varieties of olive oil.  This includes Virgin, Extra Virgin, and Refines oils.  Virgin olive oil has no chemical treatment and it only produced by mechanical means. It can contain up to 1.5% free acidity.  The same is true of extra virgin olive oil, however it is said to have a better, more fruity taste and can only contain up to .8% free acidity.  Refined olive oil on the other hand are refined using chemical means such as charcoal.

Week 4 Day 1: Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary

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Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary can be found on almost every menu of every restaurant we have visited so far.  To a picky eater like me, this is great, because you can never go wrong with potatoes.  After realizing that these potatoes prepared in this style were so relevant on the Roman menus, I discovered that they have been a staple in the Roman diet for a long time.  Initially, they were a traditional dish of the old Roman Easter.  Rosemary was also a popular medicinal herb for the ancient Greek and Roman cultures.

Roman Honey Cakes

Roman Honey Cakes

Honey kept pastries fresh for an extended period of time, because it is very good at absorbing liquids.  The traditional mixture consisted of flour and honey.  This mixture would be left to sit for around a month allowing the natural yeast to cause the cake to rise.  Many years later, recipe evolved to include spices, raisins and other dried fruit.  This was served as a part of their “secunda mensa,” which consisted of desserts.

Ingredients:

1 whole egg

1 tsp lemon juice

¾  cup milk

¾ cup honey

½ cup olive oil

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking soda*

½ tsp salt

*We could not find baking soda

Directions:

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  • Mix the dry ingredients
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  • Mix the liquid ingredients
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  • Slowly add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes in a greased pan
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  • Slice cake and serve with your choice of toppings.  The most commonly used toppings are honey, vanilla yogurt, jam, and marmalade.
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Romans considered dinner to be the main meal of the day and evidence tells us that the Romans took all of their meals very seriously. They usually had long banquets where guests would eat and drink wine while reclining on sofa type lounges for hours. Just like today, traditional roman feasts were split into several different courses with the meals however they didn’t indulge in sweets like the typical desserts we think of today.  Their desserts, or bellaira, usually consisted of fruits that were in season, figs, nuts, cakes, honey and cheeses.

 

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-By: Chelsea, Marina, Ashlyn and Lauren

 

 

 

Limoncello!

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The restaurant we found in Ischia was so good that we decided to hike back up to it for a second night! Our waiter remembered us and said he was glad we returned! After dinner on the first night, we were served meloncello.  On the second night it was Limoncello and Crema di Lemoncello.  All of these are Italian Liqueurs produced mainly in Southern Italy.  It is very popular along the entire Amalfi Coast as well as the island of Ischia where we were staying.  It is often served after dinner to aid in digestion.  Usually it is served chilled in a glass that is also chilled.  

Just keep passing the pasta!

Learning to make our own pasta was quite the experience! It was one of the best times I have had on this trip.  From learning how to form the hole for the water to fill into, to passing the pressed noodle all the way outside down the street and having everyone stop to look and take pictues!ok and .  The ravioli were my favorite! We put a mixture of cheese and spinach in balls on the dough.  Then we folded the dough over to cover the mixture using olive oil to make the dough stick together.  We cut the excess dough off and shaped them into squares.  This was one of the best meals I have had and I am proud to say I helped make it! 

Cappuccino

Today I had a cappuccino. It was really good. It was different than ordering coffee in America because it was not served scolding hot. It was the perfect temperature to drink when it came out. Also we had to drink It at the bar instead of having it in a to go cup. Cappuccinos are made of espresso, hot milk and steamed milk foam.

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Pesto is the besto!

Today during our picnic I tried pesto. Life changing. It was amazing, and all this time I have been afraid to try it. Pesto originates in northern Italy. It can be used as a sauce for pasta, a spread on crackers or sandwiches, and basically everything else as far as I’m concerned. It’s made of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. I know we have pesto in America, but this is the first time I have tried it. I will definitely buy some soon.

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*forgot to take a picture so this is from the internet*