Monday, October 19, 2009

Farinata genovese

So in Genova there is a flatbread called farinata. It is quite different from other breads in that it is made of chick peas rather than flour. Strangely, to me it tastes kind of eggy, even though there are no eggs in it. Amilynne called me and was wondering about it because since it is made of legumes it is probably better for you than most breads. So I pulled out my recipe, we had a few laughs and a good language lesson translating it, and the farinata just came out of the oven.

Here's the recipe:

250g (about 2 cups) chick pea flour
3/4 of a liter of water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. olive oil

First, soak the flour in the water for 4 hours. Then strain it. This was the surprising part - I ended up using my yogurt strainer and it took 28 hours to strain it all. I imagine that the needed time using cheesecloth would vary depending on how much surface area your strainer had. Anyway, once it's strained, stir in the oil really well - and it does take some stirring to suspend all that oil in the flour paste. It ends up the consistency of pancake batter. Then you're supposed to pour it on an oiled cooking sheet - I poured it into a giant nonstick oven-safe skillet instead, as it seemed that the oil content was probably already high enough. Bake until golden.

It turned out pretty good - a little less oily than the original, but still tasty. Buon appetito!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Epistemology, Subjunctive Mood, and Pizza

I love teaching Italian. Love it absolutely unabashedly smashingly 100%. Especially during the summer at the university. When the students have to look at it every day, it is an avalanche of information, but we're so absorbed in it that it gets in our bones.

I also love it because it's Italian. Have you ever heard a more beautiful, expressive language? Really? Right. I thought not. Sometimes just the sounds of Italian can be enough to choke me up and put tears smarting in my eyes. Some poetry is so mellifluous it could bring the world to its end. I was talking with an Italian friend once and I asked her if Italians realize just how beautiful their language is. "Ma certo," - of course - she said, out of hand.

And today was extraordinary. First off, you have to know that I have just the best little class right now. They are all working very hard and have their footing better than I did when I took Italian 102. Italian 102 made me cry. I have never felt more stupid than I did taking Italian 102, which is saying a lot. Let's just say that I am not the person from my Italian 102 class who was voted Most Likely to Be an Italian Teacher. I probably came in last for that, and my professor would probably die of shock if she found out. Anyway. I have a great class of students who are working hard.

So today started normally for a quiz day: vocabulary review, grammatical review, quiz. And a five minute break after the last person finishes their quiz. Well, the five minute break ended and two of the students were still gone, so I waited an extra minute but then we just went ahead and got started going over last night's homework. We hadn't gotten too far when one of the missing students poked her head in. She made a funny wincey face and then asked (in Italian), "Can we eat in here?" I consented. Both girls came in with slices of pepperoni pizza. And they're like, "Do you want some pizza? There's free pizza down in the quad." So the students in the class were all "Let us go get pizza!" I looked at the clock, and they were like "We'll stay late! Let us go get pizza! Come on! You want some too!"

And they were right. I love pizza. It may be the perfect food, along with gelato, pork chops, and chocolate. But I don't do pizza often because, let's face it, I don't need to be eating a whole pizza myself. Well, it has been such a good class. So I gave in. The two with the pizza stayed in the classroom, and the rest of us went down. It took about 7 minutes, and we talked Italian while we were in line. I did start to second guess myself that we should have done it after class, but when our last class member got the next-to-last slice, my misgivings went away. We went back up to the classroom. (The teacher for the next class was outside the classroom. She gave me a funny look as we walked past her, into the room, with pizza. Oh well.)

And this is where the class became brilliant. Because you see, language is always better if you are talking about real things, and there we were, biting into hot yummy slices of pizza, a perfect circumstance of real life having brought us to that point: some friends told some other friends about something that they had experienced.

And today's topic was the subjunctive. And here is how the lesson went.

Two students came in and said "There's free pizza in the quad." To them, the statement was absolute true fact. They had been there. They had stood in line and listened to the band performing there. They had received the pizza, and nibbled on it already. Everything about what they said was real.

For the rest of us, though, it wasn't real yet. The situation for us was different. We had to believe or not believe about the pizza. Our situation was this: "We think that there's free pizza in the quad." For all we knew, they were playing a joke on us, or the pizza would be gone before we got there, so in our case, "there's free pizza" was something that lacked complete certainty. And that would be expressed in the subjunctive.

Hooray! and perfect.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

No Fly Zone

So it's July and as I am looking back over the past month, one thing is striking: I didn't fly anywhere in the month of June. Can I tell you how nice that is? I mean, I love to go to different places, but it's starting to get to the point where I wonder if having to go by plane doesn't just ruin the whole thing. In the past 6 months, I have flown round trip across the country three times, and on each trip I got stuck somewhere overnight on the outbound or on the return trip. That means that 50% of the time, they just haven't been able to get me to where I was going that day. I give the situation an F. And I'm glad to have stayed on the ground in June.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I woke up this morning dreaming of Torino. I don't know if I've ever dreamed of Torino before (besides possibly when I lived there). Always when I came back it was Genova Genova Genova in my dreams, but if I had limitless possibilities I would board a plane for Torino immediately. It is a beautiful city. I dreamed about taking my sister there and going to the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea- GAM - a wonderful museum with much of its catalogue online. Of course, and this is typical, my favorite painting is not shown. It is IMMENSE, and it must be of St. Teresa, because it is of a levitating nun and other nuns are trying to hold her down, and there is a mother superior type nun who looks like she disapproves, although she might just be afraid. And it is (or was, in 1996) outside the galleries on the 19th century floor.

It would also be a lot of fun to go to Parco Valentino again and this time to buy the awesome catapult for sale in the weaponry replicas store. There was a guillotine there that was pretty cool too, but I've always been loyal to the catapult. And to cross the Po and see the Gran Madre, a beautiful domed church shown below (painting by Enrico Reycend, from GAM). And there were some twin churches that were cool, and a goldsmith, who was awesome, and I could really just go on and on. Anyway. Torino is just a really fantastic city, and if I were headed to Italy today, I would definitely swing by.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Captain Kirk and Filthy Wilma

So last weekend was my trek out to my mother's wedding. My scheduled arrival had me missing the big dinner the night before the event. My actual arrival was even later and included a night in the Phoenix airport. A night made much more pleasant by the generosity of a woman who cleans airplanes for Southwest at night who brought me a blanket to use, which she led me to believe was from one of the planes, but which I actually found out was her own personal blanket - the airline agent to whom I tried to return it the next morning said it wasn't one of theirs. Anyway. So when I arrived (finally!) for the wedding, one of the first pieces of news gleaned from my brother and my sister was that there was a pan of Filthy Wilma in the fridge, left over from the previous night's festivities. What is Filthy Wilma? Well, as Amilynne puts it, if you're a good Mormon, it's Republican Dessert, and if you're a bad Mormon, it's Filthy Wilma. And it's a crust topped with a cream cheese layer and a chocolate pudding layer, with various amounts of Cool Whip throughout, and it's mighty tasty.

Well, we attended the wedding, and the next day made a trek to Virginia City, which was a lot of fun. We played the Virginia City Game: on the way up the mountain to Virginia City, make a list of all of the people you want to see there. (We deviated and added a couple of things to our list, too.) Once in Virginia City, call these people/items as you see them, and when you go home, the person with the most points wins. My brother won, hands down. Let's just say that his ability to spot handlebar moustaches and mutton chops is the stuff of legend.

Also in Virginia City, we bought fudge at Grandma's Fudge Factory. Wow. You knew it would be good because you can watch them fluff up the hot fudge from the store window. It was seriously the best fudge I've ever bought. The guy working there was very funny. There was harmonica music playing, and it felt sad to him - he remarked on the irony of sad music in a candy store, and it was just funny. Anyway. We also went to the cemetery and to a shooting gallery, 45 shots for $2, which was an awesome fun time. Amilynne had made lunches for us to eat, but once we got back to the car, we decided to forego the sandwiches and go early to eat Basque food, then go see the Star Trek movie, which none of us had had a chance to see yet.

At the cemetery

So just how did Captain Kirk meet Filthy Wilma? Somewhere along the ride home, Amilynne let it slip that in Reno, you can bring your own food to the movie theater. She said that she had seen people bring in pizzas and fast food bags before. So of course, much to her chagrin, that night we walked into the theater toting a shiny silver 9x13 cake pan half full of Filthy Wilma. Popcorn will never be the same.

I thought the movie was awesome, by the way. 5 stars.

Grandma's Fudge Factory -- yeah, it costs less when you actually go there.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A few words

So my absence here can be traced to one cause and one cause only: in January, I had the cable company come to take the analog box off of my cable for the new "digital transition" and all, and when the box went away, I got like 30 more channels.  So I have been watching TV for the past five months.   Just so you know.

I've also had an incredible number of migraine headaches.  Go figure.

Today I was flipping channels and saw Prague.  Which of course meant I had to stop and watch.  The movie was xXx, staring the city of Prague and Vin Diesel.  And I watched it all.  You know the building the Americans take over as their little weapons armory?  Yeah.  That's my favorite building in Prague, except that instead of a weapons armory inside, there's a little bar where Amilynne kindly got coffee so I could sit and soak the building in.  So of course the movie prompted a phone call to Amilynne, which led to her getting out her travel journal from last summer and basically reading the whole thing, punctuated with exclamations from both of us and little details added from my journal.  So I have just relived the trek from Prague to Rome.  I can't even begin to express how I wish it were summer and I had a ticket for Europe!  

It's not summer.  I have a stack of work to grade that will only grow this week, so I ought to get to it.  And maybe do some lesson planning too, and some prep work on final exams and all.  And since the season for good television is waning, maybe I'll write more here too in the coming days.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For pure enjoyment

Yeah.  I am loving this one.

Pancetta is a gift from the gods.

So tonight I made a wonderful concoction: a couple of slices of pancetta cubed and fried up with garlic, add water, a chipotle cube, green lentils, and split mung beans.  Cook.  When they're about ready, throw in some spinach, and top with European style yogurt (runny, no pectin, super tangy).  Chompy winter's gruel.