Posts Tagged With: dining

Teramo Pt. 2

My day in Teramo.

This is such a good example of a lot happening in one day.

I got up early, showered, got on my site seeing clothes, ate the subpar breakfast, and got out into the world.

The first thing that hit me was the fact that apparently there is a market Saturday morning. Or at least there was this morning. And I don’t mean farmers market. I mean basically every foot of every street in the entire city had a vendor on it, selling any and all kinds of products. Foods, clothes, toys, rugs, anything. It was crazy. It was very interesting, but at the same time not at all what I wanted. I wanted to see a slow romantic town, that wasn’t as overwhelming as this was. So I finally escaped the market and found a bench in the shade, where I started working on my lace pattern. Eventually some old ladies came and shared the bench with me, then one was replaced with a man. They tried to talk to me but we both quickly found out that we could not communicate. It’s times like these when I realize how little Italian I’ve learned. The old lady was very entertained by me knitting a bathing suit. She was a classic elderly Italian woman, fanning herself in the heat, wearing a funny shirt with a rhinestone Vespa on it. We managed to cover the basics of my name, where I’m from, and how long I’ll be in Italy. At this point they both called my attention to a creep many who had been walking up and down the street continuously smoking a cigar. I had noticed him, but hadn’t thought too much about it, it was a nice place to stroll. But they clearly had a better idea than me about the situation. They insisted on finding out where I was staying and having the old guy escort me home. I thought this was a little extreme, mostly because I wanted to go get pizza, but there was no arguing with two of them for more reasons than the fact that I physically couldn’t. As we headed back through the extensive market I realized the creepy gentleman actually did follow us. We turned more corners, took a fake water detour, headed back to the market, and the guy was still following us. At this point I was EXTREMELY freaked out. I’ve never actually felt so hunted. At the same time I wasn’t sure taking me home was the best idea if the guy managed to follow us all the way there… then he would know where I was staying… but at some point we did manage to evade him and make it the apartment where the B&B was. Then my elderly companion told me to never go out again without a companion (as if that’s possible) and call the police next time something like that happens. Also to call him Papi.

I went inside thoroughly shaken, decided to hide out for a while, and ended up deciding to take a nap through the midday heat. I was almost afraid to leave again wondering what would happen if I ran into the creepy man again with nobody to help me. But I didn’t go to Teramo to hide in my room, so around 3:00 I headed into the city again, slick with sweat. It was still the heat of the day so everybody had deserted the streets. To my surprise the ENTIRE market had disappeared. It was like a ghost town compared to two hours earlier. I really liked this. So despite the heat I went around the city again, taking pictures this time. The sites here aren’t strikingly impressive, but they do have a nice romance to them.  There are the last remains of a Roman theatre, intertwined with modern homes, and leading to a beautiful church. I went in the church and was thoroughly rewarded with medieval art and design (and pleasantly cool temperatures). I kept thinking I was going to get kicked out because of my scandalous off the shoulder shirt and my atheism (clearly nobody would be able to know this, but whenever I go into a church I feel like whenever somebody looks at me, they know), but they were busy setting up for a wedding later in the day. After the church I got some gelato at a café with a nice view of the piazza. I knit for a little while, and then went to find some other landmarks. I got some subpar pizza and peach tea (have I mentioned the peach obsession yet….) for lunch, knitted some more, then FINALLY got the courage to ask somebody to take my picture with the church. There are very little tourists here, but there were some others other than me, which felt nice. The first tourists I’ve seen since coming to Italy! I bet most people can’t say that. So I didn’t feel too awkward asking someone to take my picture; I was rewarded with the man speaking English, a wondrous thing. I kind of regret not talking to him more, but he was on a stroll with a lady so I didn’t want to interrupt.  At this point all of the people were coming out of hiding for the evening, so I decided to go back to my room for a break. So here we are! Catching up on blogging.

Sight seeing outfit that attracted the buzzards apparently.

For some reason I fell in love with this fountain.

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Madda cooks very well

One of the nice things about being an au pair is that it’s cost neutral. This is largely in part because your host family has to feed you. This doesn’t mean that they’ll feed you well. I feel I got really lucky with Madda. She cooks very well and makes a point of using fresh ingredients and creating balanced meals to keep the kids healthy. It’s not very complicated cooking, but it’s very good because of the delicious ingredients. She’s been teaching me how she cooks the dishes, a lot of quick tips that I’ll be able to use to make quick good Italian food when I get back. Shown are some pasta dishes she’s made, one is sauteed tomatoes in olive oil and fresh garlic with “squeaky cheese”, and the other is fresh clams and tomatoes in olive oil. When we ate that meal Anzo (host dad) brought up that we had giant clams in Washington. Apparently the clams we eat at home are some of the biggest clam varieties. I told them about how we’d dig for clams at the beach and made chowder and clam patties out of them. I also have a picture of fresh homemade focaccia that was dripping with olive oil, and Madda making homemade pesto. There have been other dishes that were very good, I haven’t taken pictures of everything. There have been very good fresh fish dishes, roasted zucchini/eggplant dishes, and sauteed chard dish. All very good and pretty simple to make!

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Shopping district

I love the shopping district here. When I get time off from the children there are a very limited amount of places I can go. There aren’t any wonderful historical sites, and I don’t know how I’d manage a day trip yet as the bus system is huge fail, and I can’t drive stick. So, I’ve just been venturing to Old Town which is the higherend shopping district. It’s about a 10 minute walk from my house. There are countless shops ranging from H&M to the most obscure high end boutique. While the beach scene/night scene has its own people watching wonders, I feel the old town is almost better. People are being a little classier and looking their best. There are no cars allowed on the streets so that allows for sidewalk Cafes and a more welcoming pedestrian feel. I’m a little less awkward here about ordering food or buying something, as I feel like its a little bit less an exclusive local community.

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First Play Time

So yesterday we headed to the beach in the morning, but it was very windy, so we didn’t go back after going home for siesta (still don’t know the Italian equivalent for siesta). Madda has also become sick so it was my job to entertain the boys for the afternoon. Dealing with these boys is a love/hate relationship so far. I know I would love hanging out with them and doing little kid things but not speaking the same language clearly frustrates them, which in turn then frustrates me. I have decided to carry around my large two way dictionary in order to look up words that could be important in telling them what to do, and have instructed them to look up words if they really need to communicate something to me.

While playing yesterday I was greeted by Antonio in an adorable lion costume, which he was too shy to pose in. The boys then had pillow fights and made forts out of pillows, all of which I watched while knitting. I’ve discovered that knitting around a child translates into “I must unravel this ball of yarn now”. I don’t mind that as long as it doesn’t get tangled or hurt the actual knitting, so I let him run around with my yarn ball. When I tried to ball it back up he stole it from and tried to ball it himself. Apparently this is hard for a child, and led to him unraveling it even more. All in all- ball of yarn: at least an hour of distraction for a hyper child. Winning.

At this point I decided it was time to give them the Knex toy I brought them in order to distract them from my yarn and stop bothering their sick mother. This was the best decision ever. At first they were wary of the toy as I couldn’t explain to them what it was. But I sat down and taught by example how to build things. I was just messing around and ended up making something that spun like a top, and they thought I was a GENIUS. They stole the invention, copied it, and kept spinning it around yelling “Ninja Go!”, which I later learned is a show about lego men who are ninjas. The Knex kept them busy all the way into the evening until papa came home and my duty to entertain was over.

While hanging out at home there was a strange scene out in the water with the helicopter policia, I’m not sure what they were doing but here’s a picture of it. 

For dinner we had kind of a fancy chicken noodle soup made with baby penne shaped pasta and apparently very fresh chicken stock. Then we mixed in crumbled Parmesan which surprisingly completely dissolved and made Parmesan flavored broth. Papa also made a strange chicken burger thing, but it was fresh from the butcher and flavored very nicely- not really a chicken burger.

It was a nice dinner and with Madda in her room it also allowed me to bond with my host dad more, as he hasn’t been around very often. For some reason I thought he was an economics professor, but I found out he’s actually an architect as well. He apparently won an award for designing “the most beautiful lamp in the world”. He also got his PhD at Berkeley, but can still barely speak English. His family is from Brindisi and he has two brothers and a sister. We drank good wine over dinner, and when we were finished he got really excited and brought out a strange liquor from the freezer. It was homemade so there was no label on bottle and looked like it was frozen. Apparently it was homemade by a friend out of the lemons from Naples. It was a very think gooey texture and opaque. It tasted EXACTLY like a lemon sandwich cookie (if you’re reading this sisters, you know the ones that dad always buys), but after the initial cookie flavor I realized it was probably as alcoholic as strait vodka. It was a struggle finish the shot. Maybe some night I am trying to drink more I will try it again. After the alcohol I go extremely sleepy (it was about 10:30) and I decided I will actually try and nap during siesta from now on. I fell strait asleep.

Well, we visited the police station today again, and I am officially a legal resident!

Categories: Au Pairing, Food, Kid Time, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My First Morning

I want to take more pictures of things happening, but don’t want my host family thinking I’m crazy taking pictures of every meal. I haven’t told them I have a blog. But maybe I will start doing it anyways. My first morning is off to a great start with more moka coffee and a breakfast of apricots, cherries, almonds, and yogurt. There was the option of Nutella and bread as well, but as I’ve gained some weight back in the last two weeks I figured I’d save my calories for the inevitable amount of cheese I will be eating.

I finally got to meet my host dad last night as he works really late on Mondays and Tuesdays, and he’s quite funny. They first thing he asked me was if I like beer and if I wanted one. This morning he comes out in his robe (already having been delivered coffee by Madda) and asks me if I eat omelets every morning. I had to explain to him while the traditional American breakfast is seen as a heavy meal filled with bacon eggs and pancakes (and I do love a full breakfast) that is mostly for special mornings and I normally eat the same type of light breakfast they were giving me.

It’s so strange having the sun rise of the water instead of set over it! We have to put all of the blinds down in the morning so that you don’t need sunglasses walking around.

Madda and I are going to the police station soon to declare my three month residency, this will be my first walk through town!

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I Have Arrived

So, finally, I have arrived in Pescara! I managed to meet up with Maddalena and get taken to my new home. Here is a deluge of pictures of my room and the view/deck. I will have more of the rest of the apartment later.

It’s sooooooooo pretty here, so much prettier than pictures led me to believe. Sure the actual city is a strange landscape of modern Italian apartments, but the beach is breath taking. Miles of perfect sand filled with pizzerias and “Palmas”, the large beach umbrellas that litter the place. There is an amazing walkway along the entire thing and it is quite the scene, rollerbladers and everything.

So many leathery Italians! The tan is beautiful but man are they leathery looking. Also, men in banana hammocks. I didn’t realize that was actually such an explicit dress code. We took a walk down to the family’s palma, you rent one for the entire summer and nobody else can use it, so I can know where to take the boys tomorrow, my first real beach day!

This job is going to be such a weird combination of stress and challenge that I can already barely deal with, and the amazing fact that I’m just going to get to go to this amazing beach everyday filled with beautiful men and pizza. Communicating with the boys is really hard, I’m hoping we can all become a little less shy and start working on that pretty quick. I realize it’s the very first day and I’m barely functioning but it still makes it quite daunting.

Oh, did I mention I was greeted with pasta, mozzarella, prosciutto, bread, and fresh cherries when I walked in? So good/perfect/what I would’ve wanted in my Italian dreams. The family has fresh bread, cheese, etc. delivered to their apartment from a farm service. And I get to eat it all summer. Yup. I’m pumped. I think she’s making dinner now so we’ll see how that goes! I’m super tired and need to go to sleep but I’m fighting jet lag like a champ!

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My first dining review: Thaiger Room, U District, Seattle

So it looks like I’m going to start this blog early, as I’m basically in full travel mentality already. It’s allowing me to reflect on my own community. Today I went out of my way to get Thai food that I was craving badly. In the u district there are countless places to get Thai food, but my favorite is the Thaiger Room. They are a favorite by many I presume because around peak dinner time they are very busy with a full restaurant and what looks like many to go orders. I normally avoid peak dining times and get food around 9pm, but today it happened to be about 6:30 when I decided to get food. Clearly I’m rambling, so to get to the point, they were very busy, but working very hard. I got apologized to many times for having to wait, even though I didn’t call ahead of time and I was getting it to go. The girl in the grey tshirt (that I had to sneakily take a picture of to avoid being seen as a giant creep) was working furiously at getting everyone’s delicious stir fries out to them in a somewhat timely manner. I can’t imagine working as hard as she was in the steaming heat, that is so much more intense than my job as a barista and even that I find to be a pressure cooker.

So while I was sitting at the bar admiring how are these people were working while still so artfully cooking their food, people had the nerve to walk in and complain rather loudly about the service. I can’t and will never be able to understand how people can be so self absorbed and unconscious of the hard working people around them that they can complain they they’re not instantly handed the food they want when they walk in the door. One lady walks in, surveys the room, goes back to writing a text and doesn’t even make eye contact with the host and she rudely asks how long the wait will be, all the while he’s trying to hand her  a menu and use really good customer service skills.

This blog post is basically a request for people to sit back, enjoy the atmosphere of a place, and try to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Clearly if the place is that busy they’re doing something right, and just because you’re not getting 5 star service doesn’t mean you have the right to talk down to anybody. I’m glad I’ve worked in food service for six years just for the fact that it taught me humility.

A brief review of the actual food: delicious! I’ve eaten here a lot over the past three years and have very little to complain about.

I even left a tip on this to go order, which is something as a broke college student I hardly ever do. Love you Thaiger Room! I always recommend you to people in the u district.

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