Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Food, There Is Music

Written by Marino Anthony Pawlowski, Student, CET Intensive Language and Culture Studies in Catania.

Ever since I told my friends that I would be studying abroad in Italy this summer, it became a running joke that I would return home with a second suitcase. Filled not with the latest Italian fashions, but with the coffee, pasta, sweets and spices that even an enthusiastic foodie like myself can’t always find in the States. More important than that extra suitcase, I wanted to come home with new cooking abilities. I imagined myself making my friends all of my favorite Italian dishes from scratch with authentic ingredients.

Before I visited Catania, I had never prepared food outside of the United States. I believed that like in America, all ingredients were available at all times in a big supermarket, regardless of the season. On my first trip to the “Fiera” (Catania’s outdoor market), I experienced quite a shock. While vendors stretched as far as the eye could see, selling dozens of different fruits and vegetables, ingredients that were out of season were not in stock. At the time, I felt like I was just settling for the ingredients that they were selling.

In my dejected mood, on the way home from the market I decided to relish my sadness by trying one of the fresh strawberries I had bought. Just the smell of the fruit was enough to put a smile on my face. I didn’t remember the last time I had eaten produce so fresh. When I got home and made dinner (Pasta alla Norma, Catania’s signature dish) from scratch, the taste of the eggplant and tomatoes was surreal. In the coming days, I went on to sample all of the season’s best fruits, vegetables, and dishes, and none left me disappointed each one playing on my taste buds like a different song within the same musical medley.

In fact, it seems like the iconic Italian music world has its place in the kitchen as well. After all, Pasta alla Norma is named for the for the famous titular opera by Vincenzo Bellini, a native of Catania. And in our Gastronomy class, we’ve learned that the kitchen appliances are referred to as “gli strumenti” (the instruments/tools), an appropriate name, as in Catania each meal seems like an musical experience. Each flavor is drawn out, and each color comes together on the plate in a soft and pleasant manner using only what is the freshest, without sporting a sticker that denotes “organic” or “cage free.”

So while I certainly will bring back some LavAzza coffee, Casarecci, and Pan di Stelle home with me, I am grateful to also be leaving with a new appreciation for the simple yet bold flavors of Sicily.

No comments:

Post a Comment