It’s been one month! Well technically on the 29th of September I believe it will be. But I’m two days early, who cares. To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late! This past week I honestly haven’t been up to too much, no events in town that I attended or anything. Just a chill weekend with my housemate Nellie! Ashleigh was gone for the weekend on a class trip that is included with her tuition through University of Hawaii (lucky lol). Since I didn’t do much, I’m just going to share some random pieces of my life in Italy with you, instead of a weekly recap. This is basically going to be a Food in Florence blog post.
Last Thursday I took my first Italian quiz, and I got it back yesterday and got 28/30! 93% booyaaa! I love that class. Our host mom Francesca has also started to speak to us in only Italian now, and that is different and a challenge, but it is great practice and opportunities to learn!
As I’ve mentioned before, Francesca is an amazing cook, so I wanted to share with you what a typical meal is like in the house during the week:
- Breakfast: we have bread (that you cut off of a loaf you get from a bakery, no pre-sliced nonsense for Italians) and apricot spread called Albicocche, and it is my most favorite thing in this whole earth. I have a love affair with Albicocche. We also eat sweet cereal, like Choco Rice (hehe basically Cocoa Krispies, I usually eat these because I love chocolate) or Italian cheerios. We always have espresso in the morning, though this is just “caffe” or coffee to the Italians. Once Francesca offered it to me and I said, “Hmm.. I don’t know yet if I want some.” And she replied, “Of course you do, it is necessary for the energy.” We laughed and I drank my espresso like a good exchange daughter 😉
- Lunch: Typically lunch is on your own. So, if I’m home, I will have an apple and yogurt, and a sandwich. We are not allowed to use the kitchen to cook things like pasta or anything like that as exchange students, so we are limited to sandwiches and sometimes boiling water. It’s okay with me though, usually I have more Albicocche!! Sometimes I’ll go out and get a cheap panini from somewhere, and those are very different than paninis in America. Usually 3-4 ingredients (excluding the bread), and no sauce or mayo or anything like that, it’s just as-is. Usually the flavor is amazing enough you don’t need anything else!
- Supper: For supper Francesca usually cooks some kind of pasta to start – penne, gnocchi (my personal fav), bowtie, tortellini, etc. and some kind of sauce to go with it. She makes her own pesto (THE BEST-O I’VE EVER HAD. No I’m not sorry for that pun), tomato sauce, and a homemade ragu sauce (with meat), and they’re all amazing.
- For the tomato sauce Francesca has a HUGE pot she puts all the tomatoes in in the morning to cook them and prepare them for the sauce. She told me that in Italy it’s very common at the end of the summer to make a massive batch of tomato sauce with the last good tomatoes of the summer season so that you have some for the entire winter time. So cool!
- Supper continued — we also usually have some kind of vegetable or fruit. Typically boiled cauliflower (“cavolfiore” in Italiano), or cantaloupe, or sometimes potatoes. Then we have some kind of meat – turkey, chicken, “bisteccina” (little pork steak).
- For my birthday, Francesca made me tiramisu! It was amazing. Her daughter Sofia made Ashleigh a cake for her birthday also. So yummy. Sofia’s cake was more of a strawberry cream on top of a graham-cracker kind of crust.
So far, I’ve been to a bunch of restaurants with my roommates and friends. I will list a few of my favorites here!
- Trattoria Bondi: This place has the best pizza in Florence, I’m convinced (even though it has mixed reviews on Google, their pizza has not failed me). I even tried Guy Fieri’s fav Gusta Pizza, and it wasn’t as good as Bondi. Me and Nellie went there on Saturday night and got a veggie pizza with bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions and lots of cheese – it was amazing! We also got a half-liter of the typical house wine Chianti (which comes in a little pitcher), and shared that. I do not like wine and every sip I took I made a face, and Nellie laughed at me. However, water is expensive, and it’s what I had to work with. So with our pizza, I had two small glasses and Nellie had 3. It was great!!
- Arnold Coffee: I love this place. It’s the “American Coffee Experience,” which is accurate. They have all the coffee an American could want. I really like that though because sometimes I just want something sweet, not an espresso or cappuccino with no sugar! I like sweet coffee sue me (@Austen). Their cinnamon latte is amazing iced or hot (something that I rarely say about coffee drinks at Caribou or Starbucks – they’re usually better hot OR cold, not both).
- SimBIOsi Pizza: This place is definitely trendy and kinda hipster, and super into sustainability (hence the BIO). Their menus are cardboard, if that tells you anything. The pizza was great though!! Wonderful flavors and a cool atmosphere to eat in, and affordable prices. Right next door they have an extension of the restaurant (or the pizza half is the extension), and they serve the real meals – like more pastas and things like that, usually you stay there for longer.
- L’Margaritaio: This is a cocktail bar where they serve finger foods and appetizers, and a TON of drinks. #1 on Foursquare for their happy hour deals, me and my roommates checked it out. They have really awesome frozen margaritas for 4,50 euros each!! They’re not too strong, and they’re big, so one is enough for me (no, I’ve not gotten even remotely tipsy off of one. It’s basically just juice). Very yummy and a good deal, and we will continue to go there!
- Tijuana’s Mexican Restaurant: Granted, it’s not totally authentic, but they have awesome tostadas!!!! Not even too much cilantro so it’s a win for me 🙂 Loved it!! I do miss the real taquerias from home, but this will do for now when I need a break from pasta all the time.
Another awesome thing about Italy and a lot of other European countries is that there’s NO tipping here! Sometimes restaurants include a cover charge of 2-4 euros per person, which basically is the tip for the meal. Sometimes they will try to take advantage of Americans and not give you your change back, but I haven’t had any issues with that in Florence at all!
It’s helpful too that pretty much 90% of people in Florence know English, even if it’s limited. I know that it’s kind of a bad thing at the same time, because 1) it doesn’t challenge Americans to learn the local language, 2) it means the city is being run by tourists in some ways, which the Italians do not always like because they place a high value on tradition. It is nice though to go to a restaurant and be able to ask questions and even just ask for the check!
It’s true when people say that when you’re in Europe and you eat out, the waiters ignore you (almost). American waitstaff is trained to check on you every half hour or so, but in Europe, you basically flag down whoever you can to help you – usually your specific waiter will be around to take your order or answer questions. Once our waiter left in the middle of our dinner because his shift was over! But because tipping isn’t a thing here, it’s not a big deal.
I’m going to include a collage here of some random pictures from my week!
Thanks for reading! Maybe next week’s post will be more eventful!!