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Casa Gregorio day 3

ITALY | Tuesday, 12 March 2013 | Views [344] | Comments [1]

So sorry for the delay, we have been traveling and going to bed early. Where was I? Oh yes! Casa Gregorio day 3.

We left the house early this day and went down to the local market to pick up some items for dinner that night. We also had a chance to wander the market which stretched several blocks and had clothes, shoes, housewares and food of all kinds. Gregory told us that in this area of Italy people don’t go to grocery stores, they come to the local market. Everything is fresh, and therefore has a relatively short shelf life, so if a person runs out of something before the next market day, they go to the next town’s market. The towns alternate market days so there is a market somewhere on every day of the week. It also allows people social time, and they will often meet friends and family at the market. What happened to this type of lifestyle in North America? We move far away from our families, and shop in massive buildings filled with things shipped from overseas. It all seems so impersonal, and I think it’s made us forget what’s important. We tend to focus on the daily struggle instead of the essential parts of life that make it worthwhile.

We left the market on our way to a buffalo farm to sample buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala).  On the way there, Gregory told us that we were not allowed into the production area of this cheese factory because the Italian government will fine the producers 2500 Euros. This fine put another company out of business when visitors posted pictures of the factory on Facebook, which the Italian government saw and proceeded to fine the company 2500 Euros per visitor. As a result of this incident, no other factory will allow people into the production area. I’d say it’s perfectly understandable. The ladies at the store front brought out some buffalo mozzarella that was about 3 hours old. It was one of the best tasting things I’ve ever eaten. The cheese looks like what we call Bocconcini (which just means “little mouthful” in Italian – a vague description if I’ve ever heard one), but the outside is firm and the inside is liquidy with the texture of bread dough. I’m serious when I say it was one of the best things I’ve ever had and it makes me pretty sad that I’ll likely never have it exactly like that again.

From there we kept driving towards the ocean, but we stopped at an historic town where Fossanova Abbey is located. This was where St. Thomas Aquinas died in 1274. The church was old gothic style and the inside was cool and the stone had a slightly golden colour. The ceiling had the distinct rib cage-like construction which made you feel like you’re inside a massive animal. There were candles burning in the nave and the apses, and old frescoes lined some of the walls. Gothic style is my favourite architecture, perhaps because it is deceivingly complex. With the naked eye it appears very simple, as there is no marble, no statues, no colour, just Gothic arches and high vaulted ceilings. I love that it looks beautiful without bombarding your senses with a lot of grandiosity. All the colour I need is the blue sky and the oranges in the courtyard.

We then drove the Appian Way (the ancient road leading to Rome), on our way to the resort town of Terracina. The Appian Way is lined with Umbrella Pines, which grow seemingly everywhere in the Roman countryside. They are extremely tall trees with foliage only at the top. You can always see them on distant hillsides because they stick out above the other trees. The Appian Way is now paved at this section, and is very busy. Businesses line either side of the road and large trucks push their way down the narrow corridor. It never ceases to amaze me that this road, this way, has been here taking people in and out of Rome for hundreds of years.

In Terracina we did some quick shopping (I bought a really nice scarf), beneath the shadow of a massive rock outcrop that seemed to defy the laws of gravity. For lunch we went to a fishing co-op where catch from the morning could be auctioned off, but where it was also made into delicious dishes of gnocchi and risotto and calamari. They also had wine on tap, what a concept!

Back at Casa Gregorio we had the very first cooking class in the newly renovated kitchen. This night was antipasti night, so there was tons of food to cook: grilled vegetables, bruschetta, frittata, deep fried zucchini flower stuffed with cheese and anchovies, olives, mozzarella di bufala, foccacia, tomatoes with cheese and olive oil, breaded and fried eggplant, roasted red pepper, fresh sausage, buffalo ricotta and crusty bread. There was so much food, it was almost unbearable. The class was really fun, though poor Justino christened the new stove by accidentally dropping an entire frittata onto the element. He was so upset, even though it was because he was using a new pan/plate combination to flip it and the plate was too small. He swore it had never happened before, and we believed him. Plus, it makes for a good story in the inauguration of the new kitchen! Justino made an entirely new frittata from scratch to replace the one that was lost, and Dexter had the lost one for dinner. Everybody won!

I would just like to mention at this point that the people we’ve met at Casa Gregorio are a really great bunch, despite our differences in age and pathways. There was never a time that we wanted to avoid anyone, nobody dominated conversation, we all had interesting things to say, and the only quiet time among us was when we were eating something amazing (which happened very frequently). I found myself wanting to know more about these people, as they’ve undoubtedly lead fascinating lives. It always amazes me when people from different places can come together and get along in such an intimate setting without any prior knowledge of each other. I only hope that our group in Egypt is equally as wonderful.


Tags: antipasti, appian way, casa gregorio, fossanova abbey, mozzarella, terracina



I love it!! goose bumps just reading it!! mmmmm mozzarella di bufala!!

  Christina Mar 12, 2013 8:42 AM

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