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Cultural Musings

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Cultural Musings

The Welcoming Revelers: A Love Story

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A traveler walks along an abandoned road. Behind him, Toledo. In front of him, Madrid. Inside of him, the blurry faces of friends made on street corners, the soft-welcoming lights of deserted roads at midnight, and music, so much music.

And you, oh traveler, what do you see as you trudge along? What is inside of you?

In Spain, the gentle murmur of content voices gently flow from the open doors of bright cafés onto sun-drenched streets, and sometimes, you forget that you have responsibilities. For a day only, you say, this café will be yours. Then, because after all you are in Spain, after having only sat for an hour or so, you are swept up and away, going somewhere new. In Spain – after having rambled from cafés to bars to sandlots where old men play petanca every Sunday, you might sit down for a meal, but you’ll probably end up standing in a bar sipping vermouth, feeling very much like a writer from the lost generation, and substituting your dinner for the olives that are served alongside the vermouth. Here, there is not enough time in the day for something as orderly as a sit-down meal.

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Cultural Musings

Spazierengehen…..

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When was the last time you went on a three hour walk?

Dieting in America is a $20 billion a year industry and we will pay well for the best body in the shortest amount of time. I fall into this trap as quickly as anyone else. In the last year, I have started and stopped Weight Watchers 3 times, joined an expensive monthly gym that I rarely frequent and woken up almost every morning feeling bloated, ugly and dissatisfied with my body.

Like every girl, I have spent a large amount of energy, passion and brain cells trying to calculate the perfect formula for losing weight. However, since I am human, when it comes to dieting, exercise and general wellness, I have many flaws.

Funny then that every time I am in Europe I seem to weigh less. In France, I eat bread and butter, in Italy, I devour pasta and in Germany, I drink beer. Carbs, gluten, SUGAR, I eat and enjoy it all. Really there is only one difference between here and there.

I walk.

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Cultural Musings

It takes a village or something like that…

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“Living in a village forever changes your outlook on being an individual.” Or so I thought as I stared out to sea.

“Do you like the ice cream, my little angel. Oh, I do love you, my dear”

“I love you too, Granny”

A boy and his grandmother: the most memorable image from Malta.

 

 

A year and a half ago, I took my last sweat-inducing, 15-person crammed ride in the flatbed of an open pickup and said goodbye to the family that had taken care of me for two years. In Malta, I was reminded of my family in Africa and what they taught me about life and happiness.

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Cultural Musings, Italy

Cultural Notes #2: Why cashmere is worth the price

noun_82222_cc“You have too many clothes” the boy said as I tried on my 10th outfit for our date. “I want to look good for you” I said, rather pathetically. It took six more tries before I found something that satisfied  me. Later, I began pulling out clothes from his closet. Four items of clothing had been bought in the last year; I had bought them all. In my own closet, 5% of my wardrobe is more than a year old; nothing is more than five years old.

Why is it that I cycle through my wardrobe so quickly? What is it that allows me to throw away so many clothes so frivolously? Could it perhaps be jealousy, a desire to be someone that I am not? What inspired you to buy the last piece of clothing that you bought? If you’re anything like me, someone probably caught your eye and made you want to look as good as they did.

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Cultural Musings, Italy

Cultural Notes #1: Thoughts on Digestion and Espresso: An Italian Perspective

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by Gianni Boradori found on http://www.fotocommunity.it/pc/pc/cat/5955/display/29561285

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Scene– A Milan apartment, 4 people sit around a dinner table, surrounding them are evidences of a good meal, three are Italian, one is American. Beside them sit their tazzine of freshly brewed coffee. The American drinks quickly, she looks at one of the Italians and asks “May I have another?” Her boyfriend takes one look at her and says “In Italia, non si fa così.”

If I had a dollar for every cultural mistake that I have made abroad I would be very rich. Of all my blunders, this story has stuck with me. Especially after reading this post. In the article, the question of digestion appeared three times and it occurred to me that Americans do not often consider digestion when they prepare a meal. Something as simple as coffee is a question of digestion for Italians and their beverage of choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner vary greatly based on this issue.

 

 

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Cookbooks, Cultural Musings

A Justification for Yet Another Food Blog

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an article. In the article, a woman reads a fashion magazine; the man reads a cookbook. Both are setting themselves up for disappointment. According to the author, both fashion magazines and cookbooks are illusory. The dress that she buys because she saw it in a magazine will never look as ravishing on her as it did on the model, and the food he cooks will never be quite as tasty as the pictures on the page. In cookbooks, “words…become tastes” but “a space exists between what the rules promise and what the cook gets.” These days food trends can change almost daily. One year the Dutch oven will be the Christmas gift everyone must buy; the next year, everything we make must include fondue. With every new food trend came a new cookbook and with every new cookbook comes fresh disappointment.

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