Monday, July 26, 2010

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." Letters of E.B White, E.B White

a recent scroll through facebook led Arina to finding a local event in Amsterdam: the Youth Food Movement NL's fourth Eat-In event. According to their facebook page:

"The Youth Food Movement is a network of young farmers, cooks, artisans, activists and students with the shared goal of bringing more food that is good, clean and fair to their communities. The Youth Food Movement is a Slow Food youth activity that provides a communications platform for young people and Slow Food members around the world to communicate their projects. YFM serves to highlight the diverse range of ways that young people can become involved with Slow Food." 
red or green, asher?

we rang up asher, a member of the YFM NL branch, who was delighted to hear we wanted to go. we were going to make a bean salad with ingredients from home but he advised us not to as he had bought an enormous 10 kilo's worth of meat - organic, eco-friendly, biologica, sustainable meat, mind you. although we impatiently didn't read the driving directions correctly, the rain had cleared and it turned out to be a nice day and a fun event. everyone had to bring food and wear green for vegs or red for meat. there were a ton of pasta and green salads, an impressive platter of cheeses, loaves of bread, dips, and multiple bbq's grilling veggies on skewers, seafood grilled in tinfoil, and all kinds of meat cuts - including an entire wild boar that was shot by the chef to keep nature in balance. we met a woman who is going to organize Terra Madre in the Netherlands as well as a girl who has applied to UNISG and wanted to know all about it, and a guy who is going to start his own salami production in Holland (it is Dutch pigs that make all the prosciutto in Italy after all...) but other than that there seemed to be a little disconnect in the networking participation. maybe it's because i don't speak a word of dutch. ok, one word. 

having only started a year ago, the YFM NL group seemed to be very enthusiastic, involved, and has had a lot of good promotional press. 150 people was a great turn-out. and the dj was fantastic. we were in the running for a long time for first place for best dish, however, in the end we came in 3rd. we talked about maybe organizing an Eat-In Colorno, which might be better than the free hugs campaign idea (re: old men and foreigners). even on summer holidays when we're not in school, we're still active and talking about it. UNISG REPRESENT.

a small donation for a priceless pic.                      
do you accept student cards or do you want my autograph?

We considered behaving, but it’s against our nature. The Book of Dreams, O.R. Melling

when i think of holland i don't usually think of the beach. 
when i think of bloomingdale's i don't usually think of a town called blumendaal. 
when i think of woodstock i don't usually think of a beach party. 
i think if i stayed in holland all summer i'd be fluent in dutch. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship." Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

I officially feel like a real traveller with my new backpack. i'm ready for the summer.

Our Man Asher.

when on a road trip...
the Youth Food Movement representing.
Show us what you Can!

Summer Holidays: First Stop Holland.

6 weeks - going to miss you! the table.

last saturday we left france and drove 14 hours across europe back to italy. then we had 2 and a half days of class, a birthday pool party and a farewell house party in the pub then left again to drive 16 hours back across europe to holland. laughing from the night before, we drove through beautiful mountainous and enormous-lakes-filled switzerland, two minutes through germany, possibly through luxembourg, and then saw the same hops field back and forth at least 4 times in france. if it hadn't been for our study trip to belgium we wouldn't have even known that they were hops, but changing our direction in a lost frenzy that many times i think i'm ok with not seeing hopfields for a while.
frAnce. at least the scenery was pretty. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Holidays.

6 weeks. September seems so far away, but I know it will fly by. First stop: driving across Europe with Arina and Asher from Italy to Holland. thumbs up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to Survive an Asthma Attack. The Buteyko Method.

while in the apple and pear orchards of Herve, I had difficulty breathing. definitely something i'm used to. maybe i'm allergic to organic. my inhaler is running low on life-saving puffs so i was trying to gasp for the clean belgium country air, begging, with my mouth open wide, for it to enter into my constricted lungs. poppi, always to the rescue, tried patiently to teach me how to calm myself and restore my strained lungs.

how to breathe better? by not breathing.

she said that the lung's air passages close up if the body does not have enough CO2 while breathing through the mouth and gasping for air only introduces more oxygen into the body so, by not breathing, the CO2 levels can be restored. CO2 functions as a muscle relaxant which allows airways to appease and open up.

hold the breath for 6-10 seconds, mouth closed, and only shallowly breathe through the nose in short intervals and only when needed. the longer breath-holding time, the better. a normal, healthy person should be able to hold their breath for 40-60 seconds. she said that the first 3-4 minutes are the hardest and it is better done when sitting. 3-4 minutes? i could barely hold my breath to endure the second interval! dio mio, it is really hard to not breathe when you can't breathe. it's intuitive for me to check and listen to my breathing maniacally when i'm having difficulty, which in a form of hyperventilating, further detrimentally depletes the amount of carbon dioxide. holding one's breath is something the body can be trained to do for longer, so i think i will have to practice nasal-breathing techniques and keeping my mouth closed for the next time my body is out of balance.

Named after the founder, Dr Konstantin Buteyko, who connected and discovered deep breathing as a common factor in bronchial diseases, this is known as the Buteyko Method.

Monday, July 19, 2010

italian tip #6

when traveling, invest in a sleeping cocoon. it will spare you from any suspicious sheets while you sleep, providing your own comfort and secure slumber - whether it is in the mold of calabria or just a little extra warmth in the friuli mountains. it packs up smaller than bringing sheets. it's a lifesaver.

Frites, Moules, Wafels.

beautiful array of cheeses.

Besides all the ridiculous amounts of cheese we ate in Belgium, it would not have been a proper trip without mussels, Belgium waffles and of course french fries. sometimes 3x's in a day. it happens.
fries in a baguette? amazing. wings on a stick? yes please. 

when in Belgium...

frites with fresh mayonnaise. the selection of dips is unlimited.

a Bucket of Moules. no fork needed. just clamp the shells.
a Bowl of Fries.

and the accompaniments in tĂȘte de lion: mussel mustard-mayo-vinegary dipping sauce and homemade mayonnaise.

Hop hop hop/ Paardje in galop/ Over sloten, beken henen/ Pas maar op en breek geen benen/ Hop hop hop hop hop/ Paardje in galop

despite all the "tastings," we didn't go to Belgium just to drink beer. we learned about it too! In our pre-trip beer tasting classes, we learned about the four main ingredients  - cereals (barley must be malted and is rich in enzymes needed to ferment starch to sugars and is good for fullness and a sweet taste; wheat is rich and steady and creates a thick foam; rice causes a drier taste; maize is cheaper; or oat which is a softer and rounder texture), hops (fresh hop flowers, pellets, dried plugs or dried flakes - see pics below), yeast (either top or bottom fermentation), and water (quality and chemical composition is functional to type of beer). 

in each of the different breweries we visited, we were toured around the production facilities to get a better understanding of the basic process of beer brewing. even though the process may be pretty standard, it is the brewmaster who has the choice to determine the recipe and techniques which makes each beer unique. 
natural air fermentation at Catillion

De Konininck Brewery "the Taste of Antwerp"

in class, we saw and smelt the different versions of the hops and in Belgium, we visited Poperinge where Eric Lagache, a hop grower, had 20 hectares of hopfield with hop vines climbing and spiraling up intricate wires 6-7 meters high. he wasn't an organic farmer - ! - because he said that the amount of hops in beer is so small that why should he bother but is more concerned with detrimental fungus on the crops than chemicals. hops act as an antiseptic and are used as a preservative. They are the spice of the beer that has an aromatic function to balance the bitterness in beer. 
after a quick, almost neuroticly time-crunched tour around the hops museum, we learned that hops are not only used in beer but are also good for calming menopausal hot flashes, curing sleeplessness, improving skin, and promoting hair growth for baldies.  

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Belgium Beers.

what we saw, visited, tasted, learned, consumed, studied, sipped, chugged, quenched, enjoyed in Belgium. this is a school study trip.

De Koninck 5% (10:19am)

De Koninck Blonde 6%

De Koninck Triple 8%

Jupiter, I mean, Jupiler (and the most expensive amount of Thai take away in the history of Halle, Belgium)

Westvleteren 12%, 8% and Blonde 5.8%

Delirium (Tremens and Nocturnum)


not every picture is what i personally drank. i swear.

Orval Brewery.

and Rodenbach which I don't have a picture of. 

Olanda Olanda Olanda.

I've been to Holland a couple times before, but this time, I fell in love with the country. beautiful countryside (apparently there are more pigs than people), beautiful cities and villages (Utrecht, Handel, Gouda, Rotterdam), beautiful people (seriously, jaws dropped, frequently), beautiful food (mmmcheese). our first stop was to asher's home, a beautiful former monastery that not only is a retreat for groups, but self-sufficiently produces it's own fruits and vegetables in the organic fields and orchards. his dad spoiled us by baking fresh organic wheat bread in their wooden stove oven, we ate red currants and tomatoes straight from the garden, drank naturally-pressed nothing-added apple & pear juice, his mum was in the process of making calendula cream (marigold) and gave me st john's wort essential oil to soothe my dry skin. after a bike ride and swim in a nearby lake, we had a feast for dinner with asher's friends and family. from what i had heard and from how knowledgeable asher is, i had imagined his home to be wonderful, but this was really more than magical.

the next day, we were off to Utrecht. what a beautiful city. full of bikes chained to any free spot and ring-ringing you out of the way on the street (yes, one girl's bell was actually broken so she rode by singing ring ring), gondolas floating down the canals, overflowing flowers in baskets hanging from street lamps, intricate architecture with plaques indicating who lived there or the former purpose of the building, beautiful people (i don't know what dutch people eat but they are all tall, skinny and look like models - italians are not tall), cafe tables spilling onto the street, street vendors calling out absurdities in dutch to tourists while trying to sell flowers in every colour, huge windows on street level that looked like stores but were actually clear glimpses into people's homes, people/bikes/cars decked out in orange to support the upcoming world cup futbol game, and of course fries with mayonnaise, beautiful assortments of cheeses, and local beers on patios. it was good we were with two boys who kept us from going into every shop and buying everything. we had a wonderfully hospitable bbq with arina and her family and friends then were off in the rain to the local disco where we donned kanye west glasses and were the only people there.

bikes and cheese! 
after a breakfast of cheeses (french morbier, truffled brie, cahill porter cheddar and english white stilton with cranberries) we were invited by arina's friend Willow to Gouda where she works in a cheese shop. it was sunday so it was supposed to be closed, but she gave us our own tour and tasting session. it was really wonderful. i love cheese.
our own cheese tasting lesson. even when we're not with school.

stonewall kitchen products in gouda!

then it was off to Rotterdam to watch Holland play in the World Cup 2010 finals against Spain. everyone was decked out in orange (i learned that orange comes from king william of orange even though the flag is red white and blue). the pub was full of energy, full of hoegaradens, every stool, seat, bench, and empty bar spot was full. it was exciting, it was stressful. Holland pulled a lot of yellow cards. Unfortunately, Spain scored a goal in the 116th minute during overtime causing a sudden silence in the entire bar, probably throughout the entire country. second place isn't so bad. it was probably better for us though since we had to wake up early the next morning to catch the first train to Brussels and meet up with the rest of the university for our second international stage study trip....

orange everywhere.
olanda enchoosiasm.