Marte Eggleston is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism major at the Indiana University, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Marte talks about food in Florence, home-cooked meals and changing tastes.
I could not have predicted what living in Florence would do to my taste buds. As someone who enjoys cooking, I have been in the most perfect place for the past few months. I dream of eggplant and mushrooms, and I crave luscious oranges and pineapples. I have had access to some of the most delicious and sought after ingredients, and I’m starting to realize how much I am going to miss them!
One of the more surprising things about my time here is how much I have started to crave vegetables that I wouldn't have used to cook. I was not the biggest fan of mushrooms or eggplant before Florence, but I am going home a changed person! I even made an eggplant based lasagna (noodle-free) with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese (of course). I know these are not the most exotic of vegetables that I could have picked, but the Italian mushrooms and eggplants just taste better.
I have to admit: I wasn't the biggest fan of Nutella before I came to Florence. For the record, I’m still not going crazy over it, but I do like it more than used to. Maybe it’s the gelato, maybe it’s the fact that “chocolate” means Nutella a majority of the time, but it has grown on me.
I have also dabbled in making homemade pizza. Not totally from scratch considering I bought the crust pre-made, but I added the cheese and toppings, which are still very important. It was the best homemade pizza that I have ever had. It made me feel even more like a true Italian.
Even though the space in my kitchen is a little tight, I have enjoyed cooking in it for the past few months. I have definitely learned to appreciate the fresh ingredients I can buy here even though I miss the 24-hour convenience of grocery stores back home. We all need an emergency midnight snack sometimes!
The grocery store near me, Conad, was pretty easy to maneuver once I learned a few tricks of the trade. I had to measure and label my own produce, which turns out to be kind of fun. I’ve had to avoid the fresh bread section on more than one occasion because I could easily finish a loaf a day.
Although Conad is the most convenient for me, I try to visit the markets every once in awhile because you never know what you’ll find. You can buy chickens with the feet still attached, although I don’t have quite enough courage for that. I have enjoyed a few spice packets that I purchased from a kind farmer. They vary in degree of spiciness, but all it takes is heating them in some oil and pouring them over pasta or using them to dip your bread to see how delicious they are.
If Italian cooking has taught me anything, it’s that you do not need a million ingredients to make something taste good.
Marte's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.