Monday, March 22, 2010

Just Call Me Dr. Chocolate

What? Lindsay’s in a program that contains “Communications” in its title, and yet she is so bad at communicating!? I have tried to write this blog again and again, but each time become overwhelmed with the amount of things I want to say and given up. This time, however, I shall succeed. Or, you will be reading something very poorly written, but a blog nonetheless.

The snow has melted and school has begun. On the 11th I was introduced to my twenty-four classmates and discovered that we hold the record as the university’s most diverse group ever, representing sixteen different countries. Everyone seems to be settling into their niche and we are continually learning more and more about each other and where we come from. With them I laugh hard and laugh often, so I couldn’t ask for much more.

Classes are now in full swing and I’m enjoying each day. My nine-year hiatus from anything non-arts-related came to an abrupt end on our first full day at UNISG, when we were lectured on molecular science. ME, learning SCI-ENCE. Fortunately, our professor understood her students so well that not only did she make frequent analogies to butter, but compared micelle cells to Ferrero Roche. What a clever, clever lady.

For me, the best class to date was on the history of chocolate, followed by a tasting of nineteen different varieties. My favourite was made from a rare cocoa bean variety called criollo; smooth and nutty and unlike anything I’ve tried. By the end of those two hours I had pretty much convinced myself that this is my calling; I’ll keep you updated on how exactly I plan to receive my Ph.D in chocolate, but don’t you doubt even for a second that I couldn’t find a way.

I’ll tell you what is not my calling: pig farming. Yesterday we visited a farm that breeds thousands of pigs for prosciutto, and it was like walking into the bowels of hell. The smell was so strong it permeated not only my clothing but my camera too, and now every time I take a picture I am treated to the nearly-palpable stench all over again. We followed this with lunch at a restaurant, which served each of us a large plate of you-know-what. Seeing pigs alive in boxes then pigs on your plate within hours of each other gives one a lot to think about.

I have certainly not wanted for good food since arriving here; only two weeks have passed and I’ve already played host and guest to numerous meals with fellow food-loving students. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite parts of life here, and I’ve learned so much already; how to dissect an artichoke, for example, which we put into a tart with zucchini and four different kinds of cheese. Share this with friends, wine, a lot of chatter, and there it is: my idea of happiness.

The one thing that displeases me is my Italian, or lack there-of. I attend school each day in a familiar, English-speaking bubble, then seize when I return to Italian-speaking Italy and attempt to talk. My comprehension is enough to get by, but my heart longs to be able to stop apologizing for my ignorance and instead converse with people. Luckily the man at Grom, an artisanal gelateria, is more than happy to indulge us in our broken conversation. For this reason, and this reason alone, I will be visiting the shop on a regular basis. Learning the phrase “I would like your largest cone and most magnificently rich gelato, please” will be useful to me in achieving my chocolate phD. I just know it.

Below are some photos of our school (in the Reggia di Colorno, a building of buttery-yellow magnificence), my classmates, and pigs, amongst others.


  1. I wish I had your problem of struggles with the Italian language, because that would mean I would be in Italy!
    P.S. Those tomatoes look yummy!

  2. next to the taste and flavoring of food, its the color I love so much! I love seeing that in the photos you've captured. Props to you ms. lady for being in such a beautiful country studying something so awesome and that you love!

    I was on a b&b pig farm once in Alberta when I was 10, it actually wasn't too too bad. The lady just asked our mom if we understood what we were having for breakfast the next day...we were more distracted by their massive trampoline and kittens to really care :)

    YAY FOOD! Cant wait for your next post.