Before enrolling in this class, Olive Garden was the only Italian item I was familiar with.  It turns out that I was familiar with something, Olive Garden, which is not even true Italian.  The Olive Garden dishes are not authentic Italian, but transformed American Italian dishes.  This concludes that I was not even familiar with anything that was authentic Italian.  This Italian food and culture class opened my mind to a whole new culture and lifestyle.  I am far from an expert about Italian food and culture, but this class has enlightened me and enriched my cultural well being.

 My view on Italian food and culture was broadened through the region presentations, readings, movies, and class discussions.  The open ended topics imbedded in the class structure allowed various topics and perspectives to be discussed.  For starters, Italians are not constantly in a hurry rushing from place to place.  They take time out of their day to enjoy food.  They take the time to prepare fresh food and enjoy the savory tastes with each bite.  Food is a staple to the Italian culture.  Among the twenty Italian regions, each region is known for its own specialty.  I was surprised to learn that each region was known for its own specialty, and that some regions were the only region to produce a specific dish.  I guess this makes complete sense if a certain type of food is only grown in specific regions due to the growing environments.  The climate throughout Italy is very differential.  This climate variation leads to the variation in food production.  Another topic of discussion that I found interesting was the topic of alcohol in Italy.  In “Eat, Pray, Love” they were going to go and celebrate a win for the soccer team and they decided to “go out” after the game.  In America, the term “going out” would make someone immediately think of going to a bar to share a few drinks.  However, in “Eat, Pray, Love” the phrase “going out” led them to a bakery where the soccer win was celebrated with cream puffs!  It is not socially acceptable to be drunk in public.  I respect this about the Italian culture.  This is a quick overview of the basics I learned from this class.

 Not only has this class interested me in Italian cooking and culture, but it has also interested me in cooking in general.  I have caught myself checking the label of ingredients more frequently when grocery shopping.  In addition, I feel like I have been eating healthier as a result of this food focused class.  Once I am out of school, where I will have more time to devote to cooking, I look forward to cooking frequently and trying new recipes.  Here are a few Italian dishes I want to make before I die!

                                                                        Timpano

                                                           I want to learn how to cook an artichoke.

                                                                       Carbonara

                                                                       Panforte

I had many favorites from this class, so I thought it would be beneficial to discuss my favorites among each area of the class focus.

 My favorite movie was “Big Night”.  We watched a lot of movies throughout this class and all of them were very entertaining.  There was just something about “Big Night” that won me over.  The movie seemed very authentic to me.  The Italian accents were enjoyable to listen too.  The storyline was a very relatable issue where I was able to understand both sides of the spectrum.  Do not forget about the food!  The food looked delicious!  It was mentioned in one of articles prior to the movie that the producers authentic mother helped cook the food shown in the movie.  This tid bit of information made me respect the movie even more.  I wish that I had an Italian restaurant like that in my neighborhood!

 I liked reading “Playing for Pizza”.  This book had an American side and an Italian side to the story.  The book gave a very deep insight to the Italian food and culture.  The book discussed about ways to order in an Italian bakery.  This is something that I would have never thought of until I was in the bakery, waiting to order.  Something that I greatly admired about the Italian football players was their passion for the game.   They were devoting a lot of time to their love of the game without being paid.  This is something that is not common in America.  The sports players always need more money!

 The Pinocchio class discussion was my favorite, most likely because we devoted one entire class to the discussion.  I felt like we were able to discuss a lot of different perspectives during this time.  We talked about aspects from the book that I never thought about prior to the class discussion.  I would have never realized the symbolism in the book when Pinocchio burned his feet.   As discussed in class discussion, Pinocchio was having feelings of being a real boy even though he was only a marionette made out of wood.  The class discussions were good in this class because I felt like everyone had a great opinion about the topic at hand, which was worth sharing.

 Out of the twenty regions, I would choose Calabria as my favorite region.  This is a hard decision to make because all of the regions have so much to offer.  When I go on vacation I like to go some place very remote.  From the regional presentation given in class, I got the feeling that Calabria was one of the regions that was not overrun with tourists.  I would be able to enjoy the beaches along the Mediterranean Sea and the mountainous areas in the interior of the region.  In Italy, I would like to escape somewhere I can take pleasure in the natural beauty of the surroundings while not having to put up with the hustle and bustle.  However, I would have to stay away from the traditionally chilli peppers.  I cannot handle spicy foods.

Something that I will never forget from this Italian Food and Culture class is that I want to go to Italy!   Thanks to this class I have been exposed to what Italy has to offer.  Now I want to experience the food, culture, and wonderful scenery first hand.  In addition, I will never forget the word picturesque, which was used very often in the class.  It is my new favorite word.  Thank you to Lucia for sharing Italy with me accompanied with your love and enthusiasm.  You are the best! Ciao!

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