February 17, 2013

You Know What They Say: When in Rome…

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I believe the saying goes, when in Rome, eat as the Romans do. That’s a thing, right?  Well, if not, my traveling trio made it a thing anyway. Considering it was a spontaneous trip on a Tuesday to Wednesday in between classes from Geneva to Rome and back, I am still trying to figure out how in a span of 25 hours we managed to hit all the major pillars of Italian food: pasta, wine, pizza, gelato and even food from a farmer’s market. I think it had something to do with the laser focus we had in accomplishing the four primary goals we set for the expeditious trip: eat all obligatory Italian food / drink, recreate The Lizzie McGuire Movie by singing “Hey Now” continuously, see all of the major landmarks and use the saying “When in Rome” as much as possible. Ok, well maybe that last goal was a personal one of my own and my friends wanted to kill me by the trip’s end, but we were successful in accomplishing all of our goals.On a trek through cobbled streets from the Trevi Fountain to the Spanish Steps, we came across an Italian restaurant featuring Italian wine and homemade pasta at semi-reasonable prices. With the first goal in mind, we could not pass the opportunity up. After ordering the cheapest bottle of Italian vino tinto and having our waitress snicker at us as we swirled, smelled and sipped, I realized what this wine tasted like: all the other wines I have tried.  What can I say? My immature palate has yet to take Intro to Wines. My palate is, however, mature enough to thoroughly enjoy the homemade pasta dish of pappardelle with steamed broccoli, strips of crimini mushroom and bits of sausage in entirely too much yet just enough olive oil. I believe the Italians say delizioso. Let’s skip the story of how the three of us ate an entire sheet pizza that in no way was Italian while celebrating Mardi Gras. Didn’t count. It was cheesy, greasy bread that was most likely made in America. When in Rome, don’t do that. On the way to the Vatican the next morning, we stopped at a farmer’s market to buy some jumbo sized broccoli and peppers in an attempt to cleanse our bodies from the previous night’s damage. Making our way from the Pantheon to the Colosseum, we stopped to snack on the veggies in front of the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (or the Altar of the Fatherland) while looking upon some of the incredible Roman ruins and the Colosseum down the street. The combination of brilliant sun, the white, marbled monument juxtaposed against the archaic ruins and fresh produce was probably my favorite Roman food experience.After visiting the Colosseum, walking around the ruins and making our way towards the train station, we did not forget about our goals: all were in accordance except for (real) pizza and gelato. We stopped at one of the numerous, authentic-looking corner stores selling pizza by the slice and picked up a piece of margarita pizza to share. Although I only had a bite due to my unfortunate lactose intolerance, the focaccia bread was sprinkled lightly with garlic and olive oil, the roasted grape tomato was fresh, the buffalo mozzarella was heaped on generously, and the arugula added the perfect touch to match the colors of Italy. And to conclude our whirlwind tour of the city and its gastronomy, we picked up raspberry and strawberry gelato to share. While finishing up the fruity tastes of summer in a small, sunny piazza, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the way in which we accomplished all of our goals: the food, the sights, the songs … you know what they say, when in Rome (c’mon, you saw that one coming).

Original Author: Casey Carr

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