lunedì 27 febbraio 2012

Moving In

February 10th, the day I have been waiting for since January 5th. I have keys to my new house, and I can begin to implement all those wonderful ideas that I have been gathering from my new (year old) addiction, Pinterest. I have so many plans on going thrifting and repurposing and cooking and sewing and decorating that it is fortuitous that it takes 30 days for the Italian government to conjure up a stamp and slap it on a piece of paper. I say this because they must do so to my Italian lease before I can apply for my Sojourno Visa. This visa says that I can stay in Italy while my husband is here. If I don't have it within 90 days of arriving here, I will be deported. (Mom, this does not mean start praying that my landlord trips and falls on his way to get it stamped only to have dropped the lease in a muddy hole 10 feet deep. I kinda like it here). This visa also allows me to apply for jobs here, there in which is why it is fortuitous that the Italian government is so laid back in making things happen. I want to get a job here, but this is a great opportunity to keep me from job searching and allow me to focus on getting our house ready.

While on the subject of jobs, let me quickly discuss that situation briefly. I was under the impression that when I arrived here that I was going to apply to every Italian school as an English teacher and put my ESL certification to work. It did not take long before I was informed otherwise. I am on a "Mission Visa," meaning I get to live in Italy with a vow not to take a job in the economy (by vow I mean if I make money off of something that an Italian can do then I could be on "Locked-Up Abroad"). In return the Italians promise not to tax me [65 percent]. So, my job options are limited to working on post. I could bag groceries at the Commissary (benefits: I get Mondays off). I could work at Child Development Care (benefits: I would be convinced that having kids is NOT worth it). I could be a substitute teacher (benefits: I would thank myself for not spending another year of my life getting a teaching degree at Austin Peay). So, those are my competitive options. Actually, there is a lifeguard position open...I could be 18 again and do that. Well, I'm sure all of these job options are not as bad as I may see them now, but I would like a job, and I am bummed that I cannot work among the Italians, out of "mini-america." So, maybe I can look into some volunteerships.

Anyway, back to our house. Here is a picture of us with our keys. Yaay. We are so excited. You can see the shutters in the background. When the sun is not shining or when someone is not home, houses look as if they have been boarded up and abandoned, but that's just another deterrent for the gypsies and the one economical feature about Italian houses, better insulation than glass. I say the 'one' because the houses are made of tile floors and cement walls and heated by radiators in each room. There is little to no circulation in the house, so to keep from getting black mold, we have to open all the windows and doors to air out the house at least 15 minutes a day.

Roman LOVES having a yard (and I do too!) It is wonderful to open the door and let him go outside and run free. We got a little snow here (you can see it on the street better), and it was Roman's first snow to play in. I thought he would do something cute like bite at it or try to chase it, but he just shakes it off in annoyance (which is cute I guess). 

Here is a picture of us tromping in the snow. We still did not have a car at this point and had to walk to the bus stop or (if the buses weren't running, as on this day), walk to where we needed to go. 

We live in a really nice neighborhood (with lots of German Shepherd that are soooo cute...we may just come home with two dogs...or three). I can run or bike here without much worry about cars going too fast and being run over, and we are literally meters away from the nearest bike trail. Scott rides his bike into work every day. He leaves around 0530 and it takes him about 15 min to bike in, and he rarely sees a car. 

I know I didn't add any pictures of the inside of the house. It's mostly just white walls. I will have a blog post of progress pictures for each of the rooms so you can see how we slowly went from bare rooms, to semi-furnished, to furnished and decorated. I also have been thrifting (at some awesome thrift stores very close by), and I will post about each project. 

I'm Back

You never realize how much you depend on something until you are deprived of it. In my case, we did not get internet set up in our house until day 10 of living here--which is my excuse for not posting anything on here recently. Just because we did not have internet, and probably thanks to the fact that we were, Scott and I did get out and experience more of Italy. I will go in chronological order in an attempt to keep up with all that is going on, (so check back frequently since I will -hopefully- be blogging frequently to catch up.)

lunedì 6 febbraio 2012

Food Mistake

This past week has been mostly uneventful, just going about our slow days waiting anxiously to move into our house (four more days!!). But to break up the mundanity of the days in wait, we decided to check out a new restaurant. Our hotel has a list of off-post restaurants from which we decided to choose  by closing our eyes and letting our finger fall. The restaurant for the night is called Ristorante Antica Locanda and luckily for us it was just a short bus ride away. Upon walking in the front door we see the display case with a HUGE fish head staring at us. By the look of the case of freshly picked fish, we knew we stumbled upon something fancy!! I make eye contact with the hostess, "Due per favore," I say with my best Italian accent, maybe I can fool them for the first few minutes that I might be italian. We sit at our candle lit table and are handed the leather bound menu. Each page representing a course of food from which you choose one per page...well, supposed to anyway. 

Here is what I learned from my culture lesson and what I have noted since arriving here. Italians do not eat dinner until around nine o'clock pm (restaurants don't even open until earliest 7:30). For formal dinners  there are roughly six courses (depending on the formality). Aperitivo: mostly a wine menu with some small morsels to chomp on such as olives, nuts, cheese and crackers, Antipasta (before pasta): this is usually a cold appetizer such as a salad, or cold cut meats, Primo: is usually a pasta and the like such as gnocci, polenta, or risotto. Secondo: is usually a meat, the main heavy plate, Dolce: in my opinion the best course, dessert, then of course the last course is Caffe. 

Out of these choices, we chose from the primi, secondo, and dolce. Scott ordered a duck fettucini, filet minon, and a chocolate cake with English cream.  Sorry, I didn't take pictures of Scott's dishes, he was giving me enough grief as it was taking pictures in the first place (looking like a tourist), but I was able to get a snapshot of him at least!

This is a sample of what an aperitivo would be which came out as a complementary dish. It is a slice of raw salmon (yumm sushi) on a dollop of a whipped zucchini sauce. Also, I must apologize for the poor picture quality. Our lighting was a small candle, and my camera is a small ipod. 

We had kept up our appearances as maybe not Italian but at least people who knew the language...until we opened our mouths to order. The entire menu was in Italian and the items we chose were not the easiest to say for someone who has only been exposed to the language for less than a month. Even though we lost our cover, we continued to speak in Italian the entire time to the best of our ability so I say we did pretty darn good seeing as the waitress clearly did not know English and we got all of our food to order!

 I ordered a gnocci with carrots and zucchini for my primi. The gnocci was perfectly cooked and reminded me of home since it's my favorite comfort food (mashed potatoes) but in a ball form. 

For me secondo, I wanted something small since I knew I would be full after eating the pasta dish and since small things are usually the least expensive, I scan the prices and find a dish for 5.50 euro. From my years of Spanish, I could comprehend that it was some sort of seafood with shrimp, but for the price, I thought it would be some sort of shrimp cake or a few on a skewer? Well....

Clearly, it was not as I expected. If you cannot tell from the poor quality of the picture, I had ordered an entire lobster tail, 3 crawfish, and 6 huge shrimps with beautiful carrot and cabbage garnish. Umm, maybe I looked at the price wrong. I eat a shrimp and prod at a few other pieces for a bit of meat, but I honestly don't know how to eat this stuff correctly, so Scott swaps me plates. He shines off the crustacean shells like nobody's business and I eat a few bites of his meat (I honestly don't get how Italians eat this many courses) which Scott gladly takes back to finish off. 

Even though I am nearly stuffed (note I said nearly), there is always room for dessert. I scan the menu for something light and gelato is an Italian word that I am very familiar with! I order a tiramisu flavor and it is the most wonderfully smooth and creamy gelato that I have ever tasted. I ate it slowly and deliberately trying to make it last as long as I could. But alas, all that is cold cannot stay. So we asked for the check. 

As we wait for the check, Scott and I mess with our candle (that has begun to drip all over the table now. It has been nearly two hours now since we got here, not due to slow service but to Italian culture of a slow and leisurely meal). As we watch the wax build up we discuss how nice it has been to get out of the hotel and that we deserve to go out to a fancy smanshy restaurant like this since we have been eating glorified ramen for the past eight days. We keep this reasoning even after the check comes out and we see that we have paid 33 euro for my single plate of seafood. It apparently was 5 euro a gram (or some kind of weight measurement). Which makes the total a bit steeper than we had originally estimated. After a bit of cringing and "OmygoshIcan'tbelieveIspentfiftybuckonasingleplate"ing, we reasoned again, that we deserve it. We are in Italy. We have been eating 30 cent cans of Campbell's soup and 17 cent packets of ramen for enough days to compensate for a 33 euro mistake. 

We enjoyed our night out together. The food was good and the experience was great. Though, we will try to use a bit more caution when we are ordering a plate of seafood anything (as the main course) that costs less than 10 euro. (Seriously, what was I thinking?)