Posted by: francescacoviello | September 15, 2010

Scuola.

Thursday marked the end to my first week of school in Florence. My classes meet only one a week, rather than the M/W, T/R schedule I have been used to at UT. This is nice because it gives me time to explore the city, but it’s a bit of a tease because I LOVE my classes. I’m taking a Food Photography course with Matteo Brogi (google him). I showed up to class with my itty-bitty Canon powershot, hoping I could get away with it. Apparently, in the photography world, a legitimate camera is necessary in order to produce the work seen in magazines. I just received the good word that a Canon EOS Rebel XS has been ordered in my name! I’m excited to post the photograph’s that I will be taking in the studio, and all over town. This will be a fun game to tell the difference between the images from my tiny camera and the real deal. Other than snapping pictures for personal use, I have never really pursued photography. It was a little intimidating on the first day when everyone had there hardcore lenses and accessories on display, but I am ready to learn. Especially when the model is FOOD, I can’t wait to capture the perfect shot.

Professional Food Writing is definitely going to be the highlight of my semester. As a COM major, I have always wanted to focus my writing on something I am extremely in love with – Food. My professor gave me chills when we read through the syllabus, as she explained all of the assignments for the semester, which are 100% revolved around the art of cuisine. She plans to collaborate for a project with Matteo Brogi’s Food Photography class, and I’m already in it! There are so many wonderful opportunities open to my interests here, in the city and at the school. After all, this is EATaly (my favorite way of saying Italy).

I had my first cooking class too, Food Society and Culture in Italy. Although I am far from being a chef, it was an adjustment to prepare and execute at someone else’s pace. It made me think – I must look like a wild woman in the kitchen because of how I move and multitask. We made crepes stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, rolled and toped off with béchamel and parmesan. It took an hour and a half! I was so extremely hungry during this process I didn’t even care what we had created, I needed to eat! When the crepes finally came out of the oven, I quickly volunteered to serve everyone (I also wanted a bigger portion). I took my first bite, it was SO hot and burned my mouth SO bad, I wanted to spit it out. Never in my life have I scorched my tongue like that. Overall, the crepes were OK, not sure they were worth the lengthy time and precision, but that’s probably because I am very impatient when I cook. As soon as everything was clean and we took some notes (I am getting credit after-all), I went downstairs to my next class in the wine ‘lab.’

The restaurant business has educated me quite a bit over the years about vino, but won’t mount up to the information provided by my Wines of The World course. Our textbook is titled ” THE WINE BIBLE,” enough said. The different regions we will be concentrating on this semester – France, Germany, Austria, Spain and Portugal. I was a little surprised that Italy was not included. But rather than be disappointed about disregarding Italian wines in Italy, I’ll just have to make a special trip to Chianti and enlighten myself! After a lengthy lecture about Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne, we finally got to taste 3 different wines. There are many characterizations in classifying what wine does to the palate, so we took our time in determining each one. My burnt tongue (from cooking class) threw off the distinct tones of the white wine, so I paid meticulous attention to each sip until there was nothing left to taste. Let me tell you, there is a very good reason why they call it a tasting. I made the mistake of finishing each small glass, and found my way home with a headache. My sommelier taught me not to be a lush, without ever having to say so.

The good news of the week… I moved up to a higher level Italian class, which is great because I wasn’t really improving in Intermediate I. There is a HUGE difference in taking a language course at home verses in the native country. Now, I welcome the challenge and can practice outside of the classroom – rather than drowning in confusion. Unfortunately, the Fiorentine people always identify me as being American, and since they all speak English, they don’t stop with me. I try to impress them with my ‘knowledge’ of the Italian language, but they insist on conversing in English. This can be discouraging, but it will only encourage me to prove myself by the end of the term.

The bad news of the week, is that the Risotto here is not Risotto. I have seen it on several menus, and resisted ordering… until recently. Risotto is one of those indulging dishes, a comfort food like fetuccini alfreddo – but better, at least I think so. On my way home from school I stopped to browse the menu next to my apartment, and there it was… Risotto con funghi porcini. I was anxiously waiting to dig into the meaty grains, then all of a sudden, a pile of brown rice arrived. This is not what I had in mind. Where is the creamy texture and rich flavor? Why is the risotto actually rice? A few nights later, I had to test my luck and try it from another local ristorante, making sure the risotto would be white rather than brown. There it was again – tiny kernels, barely any cheese. This time, it had more flavor but definitely didn’t satisfy my craving. Next time I’ll make it at home. But so far I haven’t found the Arborio rice anywhere! Who wants to send some over?

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