The Final Countdown

It all came to an end. We had to say goodbye to our temporary paradise. The last week of our trip went by way to quickly.

What is terrior? Terroir is a term that refers to the environmental and geographical conditions food has which are fundamental in giving it certain characteristics. This can be internationally or even within a certain area or country. For example, American and Italian produce are extremely different. However, even within Italy, a regions’ produce varies from each other. Venice (more seafood based) will not have the same food as Florence (bread, meat, cheese, and beans), which will not be the same as Roma (prosciutto, raw vegetables, and cheeses). Although most of the food will be similar, every region has its own unique characteristics that can be seen in their local dishes.

The manner in which Italians buy and sell their groceries is different as well. Unlike us, they don’t have the big market monopolizers like Wal-Mart. Similar to the slow/fast food dilemma, Italians have fresh farmer’s markets where they sell everything like meat, seafood, bread, fruits and vegetables. An open market with numerous stalls filled with fresh produce, the Italian markets are extremely active. Instead of cramming it all into a big supermarket, they chose to keep the various goods separated by stores. If one store sells fruit, you most likely will not be able to find meat there. You would have to go to another store nearby, but still in the same market. The farmer’s markets are incredible with their vast variety of food and cheaper than expected prices. I thought that since the products are more organic and fresh, the prices would be similar to those of Whole Foods. I couldn’t have been any farther from the truth. Although we may see some farmer’s markets in America, the larger supermarkets are taking over with their easy access and longer store hours. The only fault I see with markets like Testaccio is that their work hours (close at 1pm) are extremely inconvenient.

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On Wednesday, we went to the Frascati and saw how Italian wine and olive oil is made. Traveling through the breathtaking vineyard, I was filled with excitement as to what we would be doing. Once we got there, we were given a tour of the industry and taught the proper way to taste wine. When tasting it, you shouldn’t gulp it down, but instead take small sips and let it sit on your tongue. Also, apparently chemical industries aren’t the only ones with guidelines and restrictions. The wine industry has DOCG, DOC, and IGT (decreasing strictness) regulations that classify things such as grape type, length of aging, and amount of alcohol. However, don’t be surprised if a better wine is DOC or even IGT. Sometimes, the best go undetected. At my trip to Frascati, I learned about how certain wines are meant to be at specific times of a meal. Aperitivo, such as Prosecco, is meant to be before dinner preparing your stomach for food. It has less amounts of alcohol. With it’s strong clearing taste, digestivo is for after dinner or a heavy meal and helps with digestion. We tasted some flavors such as coffee, sage, and oregano.

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All in all, I learned a lot about Italian food, drink, and culture throughout my trip. I never would have been able to learn this much unless I actually came and lived among Italians themselves. I couldn’t have asked for better people to spend the past month with. Going in, we were all strangers. Going out, we were family.

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After spending one month in Roma with complete strangers and making some of the best friends ever, I’m really going to miss this paradise. No more waking up to people speaking Italian outside my window or jamming to Fancy with my Fioretti chicas (who are by far the best roomies ever)! No more 15 minute walks to the tram stop or ordering a marochinno and cornetto at the trastevere station for breakfast. No more jamming ourselves into morning trams or running across traffic to catch the tram. No more feeling more Italian than other people we hear speaking English. No more weekend adventures. No more two euro gelato. No more Ai Bozzi, ice bowls, and pizza sauce. No more paying for water or sitting. No more struggle trammin’. We may not have all of these anymore, but I know for sure that I have one kind of crazy but really incredible Roman family now.