Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ciao. How *You* Doin'?

It's happened...we've traveled to Italy, and ELTW is back.  We're eating at Olive Garden, and Fazoli's, and the Macaroni Grill, and --

-- I'm kidding, though it might've been cheaper to just eat out every day this week.  We have a new country, new recipes, new ELTW kitchen, new sources for ingredients.  I should almost call this blog "Eating Like The World, Version 2.0."

So yeah.  As I've said before, we've moved from Michigan to Florida, and from rural nowhere to suburban Tampa.  I'm not so sure we like our new kitchen more than the old one -- it has more counter space, and a gas range instead of electric, but it doesn't seem to work quite as well.  Or maybe it does, and I'm just a grouch.  Anyway, here's a shot of the kitchen midway through cooking Monday's meal:

The "New" ELTW Kitchen

Another large change for is moving to a metropolitan area.  There are something over a million people in the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, compared to the 50,000 or so in the 100 miles around us in northern Michigan.  What does that mean to ELTW?  Food stores!  We don't have to cruise the interwebs in search of odd ingredients, and hope they arrive in time
to be useful.  No, there's enough diversity in the area to support ethnic food markets, where we can see, feel and smell the ingredients we're buying.  It's a cool evolution of our project.

Our first such foray was to Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg. (St. Pete from here on, because that's what the locals call it...)  We went on a Saturday when they were hosting wine and beer tasting, so the market was absolutely NUTS.  5th Avenue in NYC on Black Friday kind of nuts.  At one point I had to separate from my family to make a surgical strike on the pasta flour aisle, because the six of us would never have made it there and back alive.

Mazzaro's Market

It was worth it, though.  We got smoked mozzarella.  We got fresh fennel.  And prosciutto, and pasta flour, and wine.  And more wine.  We rocked the place.  The free wine helped.

Fiat Wannabe

An interesting personal connection that we have with Italy is that I was there when I was a kid.  When I was 7, Dow Chemical sent my dad to Europe for 6 months; mom and I joined him for three of them.  We lived in Germany, and traveled to Holland, Switzerland, Italy and Sicily in our green Opel.  Here's me with Dad south of Genoa.

Dad and Me, Genoa, 1977

It was an interesting time.  Seeing Rome and Milan as a seven-year-old is a life-changing experience.  You don't remember the same things as an adult, but you remember them forever.  I'm proud to have seen Pompeii, between its volcanic buryings:

Me, in Pompeii, 1977

And there's really no explanation needed for the next pic -- although what I remember most is that mom wouldn't let me climb the tower, because the walkway was around the outside, and there was only a single chain to keep people from falling to their death.  Hey, it was 1977.

Dad in Pisa, 1977

So I'll sign off here, and start putting up our week's experiences some time when it's not close to my bed-time. 

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