It all began with Bologna.
It was prosciutto and parmigiano, aceto balsamico, lambrusco and san giovese.
Or maybe it began before, on my first trip to Italy. Maybe it began with family feasts in a medieval Tuscan villa, and whole spit-roasted chickens in Sunday markets. And gelato. Yea, it was definitely gelato.
Or did it start even earlier, on my first trip abroad; was it the warm summer evenings on Parisian rooftops, or carpaccio and cow’s tongue? Was it the solitary clandestine morning treks for a fresh pain au chocolat?
As I anxiously anticipate the start of my next adventure, I find myself looking back, trying to determine its genesis: how and when did I decide that gastronomy was for me? Though the more pressing question is, why the hell haven’t I started packing? Yes, in four days I am once again leaving the States and going to Italy, this time to complete a year-long Master degree in Food Culture & Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences.
Of course there was no easily traceable and definitive moment when it all began. It’s been many meals and people and tastes and memories: empanadas de trucha in hidden Patagonian villages, Carmen’s perfectly braided repulgue and the squeak of warm chipá; one late summer’s tomato lunches with Fiamma in Cilento and many summers’ outdoor crab feasts in Baltimore; hearty cavatieddi al ragú di cinghiale on Easter and Graziella’s cocoa tagliatelle on Thanksgiving.
My hope for this blog is – oddly enough – to be the opposite of everything I’ve just written. (It seems I’m off to a great start.) Actually, I don’t know how this blog will turn out, just as I’m not sure what to expect from this next year. But I enjoy writing, and people (also known as my Mom) said I should start a blog again. So hi, Mom, and I’ll try to avoid writing more pretentious laundry lists devoid of any context or explication. This one was just for me, to remind myself of why I love what I’m about to study, and how fortunate I am to have had all these experiences.
So here goes. Here’s to writing and eating and drinking and sharing and remembering and conviviality and more varied and developed sentence structure. Here’s to working hard and doing something well once I’ve finally gotten started (this applies to both my blog and my empty suitcases.) Here’s to warm nostalgia and overwhelming gratitude, and many more reasons to feel so in the future.
It’s exciting yet odd to know that not only will this year be very different from the last, but to be fairly positive that this year will be uniquely amazing. Not that I have high expectations or anything. But come on, what could possibly be bad about studying food culture in Italy??*
*student debt, inevitable weight gain, the clusterfuck that is living in Italy, and don’t even ask me what I intend to do with this degree. Seriously, don’t ask.