Scholar Fierce: Food in Italy

I must say… I love food. I like eating it, talking about it, cooking it, learning about it. I was so excited to get to Italy because I thought pasta (eh, maybe), gelato (I tried it), but panna cotta. That dessert in all its lovely lightness is a delightful little taste of heaven.

Do not be fooled. I ate pasta upon pasta while in Florence. And, because Tuscany is famous for its steak (thank you, gourmands Michael G and Nat G), I tried that too. At the urging of my new foodie friend, Nat, I did try gelato (ricotta pear flavor). To my surprise, it wasn’t horrible. (I hate ice cream. I just figured I wouldn’t like gelato.) Nat has also made me promise that I will taste ice cream and put the experience on video or at least photo array. (I keep my promises.)

Anyhow, my best experience in Italy – food wise – was taking a cooking class. (Shout outs to Erin M & Gabrielle F for inviting me along). Oh it was wonderful. We made a three course meal: handmade pasta with zucchini & prawns, artichokes & branzino, and a marzipan yogurt cake drenched in amaretto. I learned how to make pasta, fillet a fish, make marzipan, scare the hell out of a chef with my exuberant use of alcohol, and use the continuous cooking process to my advantage. My taste buds are still tingling! That cake though: it was light, and airy and sweet, and wonderful. We had to pass it out at the opening gala. It was that good. We took our classes at Giglio Cooking School, Via del Ghirlandaio 6a.

A close second was going out with Ayesha H. and Brian H. to two places: the steak place, Antico Fattore, (which was suggested by Michael G. and has a restaurant in the states), and the place near Santa Croce, Osteria de’Benci. Ayesha H. has excellent food tastes. (I learned this during the New Orleans Great Bread Pudding Hunt of 2014.) I trusted her to lead me to drunken pasta and it was glorious. And, two words: balsamic steak. As soon as I figure out how to make those, it will be a new day. Cue The Wiz cast singing: Can You/Feel A/Brand New Day?

I am fascinated by alcohol especially because of the way it changes flavors of food, complements food, and helps with the digestive process. There are so many grapes, local wines (especially whites) that I really enjoyed. Also, grappa. That stuff will get you together.

I didn’t take many picture of the food because by the time I remembered I even had a camera, we were knee deep in conversation and the plate was half devoured.

C’est la vie.

About TAPPhD

Therí A. Pickens received her undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature from Princeton University (P'05) and her PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA (2010). Her research focuses on Arab American and African American literatures and cultures, Disability Studies, philosophy, and literary theory. She recently published her first book, New Body Politics (Routledge, 2014), which investigates the role of the material body in constructing social and political critique. Her critical work has appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, Al-Jadid, Journal of Canadian Literature, Al-Raida, and, the ground-breaking collection, Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at Bates College. She is also a creative writer. Her poetry has appeared in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Save the Date, and Disability Studies Quarterly. Her drama has been performed at the NJ State Theater. She offers courses on Arab American and African American literature. In her introductory courses, she seeks to provide students with information and skills that will enable and empower them to critically and constructively engage difficult topics like race, sexuality, gender, disability, and class. In her upper division courses, she pushes students to synthesize their knowledge from other classes and expand their critical thinking repertoires.
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