Letti inclinati e albicocche

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving in Milan

Despite some setbacks early in the evening, Thanksgiving in Milan actually turned out quite well. At the last minute Tim and I decided to try our hands at making stuffing from scratch (which turned out surprisingly well), and our rotisserie chickens really stepped up to the plate as convincing (though small) turkeys. Tim and I also made sweet potatoes, corn, and peas. Nisha and Stephanie added asparagus, mashed potatoes, carrots, and dessert. Everything tasted great. This was Stephanie's first Thanksgiving (since she's from England) and, given the circumstances, I think we did a good job. Especially with no oven, and almost no planning.

Turkey with "Tim and Mike's World Famous Old-fashioned Home-made Stuffing"

It might not look like much, but there were only four of us. And we had leftovers of almost everything.

The whole gang

As dinner music, it was suggested we play the Team America soundtrack through my iPod speakers. "It's an American Holiday," we thought. "Why not some America-loving music?" We thought better of it, though, and just played a Chopin/Bach/Mozart playlist in the background.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

In Praise of The Catholic Daughters

Sure I've made fun of them in the past, but let's face it, they're great girls. You know one of the things I like best about them? You can count on them for food.

Today is Thanksgiving, and Tim and I were planning on having dinner with some of the other Americans at Bocconi University. We don't have an oven, so we initially thought turkey might be hard to have. But, a friend of a friend offered to bring a turkey, and stuffing. Hooray! It's Thanksgiving!


At 6:30 p.m. she called and said transporting a cooked turkey is too difficult. So she and her friends aren't coming. Now we're left with more vegetables than we can eat but no turkey and no stuffing. That's a vegan holiday, and we're no vegans. A holiday isn't a holiday without some dead animal to eat. Luckily, I stopped by the grocery store today and bought some dwarf turkeys (i.e. chickens), so we'll have something. But still.

So that's what made me think of the Catholic Daughters. If they said they'd bring me a turkey, I'd know for sure I'd be getting a turkey. They like cooking, and like having people eat the food.

Update: Thanksgiving ended up going very well, after all. Details tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


That's what it's called in Welsh. At least, that's what we were told - we never actually heard anything but English on our trip to see Fr. Gareth.

Before we get to the content of this post, I'd like to apologize for the delay in updating the blog. Tim has been very busy studying lately, and I've been very busy reading other blogs (um...for tips...to improve this one). But I told Tim yesterday that if I didn't post something today, I'd give him five euros (that's what people here use since they can't get their hands on dollars, a.k.a. "real money"). So: "There we are."

Unfortunately we didn't take too many pictures in Wales, since most of the time we were being chauffeured around by Fr. Gareth or one of his parishioners and didn't always have the camera. The pictures we did take, though, are priceless.

Fr. Gareth met us at the train station the afternoon we arrived in Wales. He took us on a short tour of Cardiff, where we saw the new Senedd (like our Senate) building, the opera house, and the docks. He also bought Tim and me each a Brains (the name of the brewer) beer, which we gathered is popular in Wales. Then we drove about an hour north to his rectory, where we had dinner and watched an episode of Brideshead Revisited. Interesting fact: Fr. Gareth has two parishes, because of how few priests there are in Wales. More interesting fact: his parish in Tredega is technically in Dukestown, just a bit over the Tredega / Dukestown line, because when the church was built the parish wasn't allowed to build a Catholic Church in Tredega (Catholics in Wales haven't always been treated very well).

Anyway, our first field trip was chaperoned by Mike, one of Fr. Gareth's loyal parishioners. He took us to Big Pit, an old coal mine (one of many in the area). He also drove us past Rhomney Iron Works, one of the oldest (if not the oldest) iron works in the world. Here we are posing outside Big Pit, since cameras aren't allowed inside.

Mike, Mike, Tim

We also took a trip into Cardiff one of the days in Wales. Fr. Gareth's mother drove us into down while Father ran errands, and we eventually met up at "the club" for lunch. Tim and I were very underdressed, and I'm sure lacked sufficient table manners, but our hosts were too polite to mention it. Here's a picture of Tim and me in front of Cardiff Castle.

It was nice to travel with a third person, so more than just our heads would be in the picture.

Fr. Gareth, as you'd expect, is a very good host. Simply putting up with us is all most people are willing to deal with, but he really went the extra mile...I mean, the extra 1.6 kilometers. No matter how busy he was working on his dissertation, he'd always stop to make us breakfast.

"The Best Breakfast in Tredega" (I assume, because, well, there's really no other place to eat)

Many of you have, in comments or in emails, suggested that Tim and I have been neglecting our studies while abroad. I'd like to offer you some undisputable proof that that is not the case. Look at Tim, studying hard in the sitting room / my bedroom / Brideshead Revisited viewing room.

See? That's a textbook if ever I saw one...

One of the places we traveled with Fr. Gareth was an old Catholic Church (called St. Issui's or Patricio Church) that was stolen and is currently used by Protestants. In this church is the oldest known picture of Death / the Grim Reaper / etc.


Mike, Fr. Gareth, and Tim in Patricio Church

Fr. Gareth also took us to the ruins of an old abbey, as evidenced by the following pictures. By the way, please notice that Wales is one of the relatively few places that manages to still be beautiful in rainy weather (which is lucky, since it rains pretty much all the time).

We also went to an abbey that still has monks living there.

Tim, at the abbey that still has monks

Since most of you probably haven't been to Fr. Gareth's parish, I thought it'd be nice to include a couple pictures of his church, Immaculate Conception.

Unfortunately, we did eventually have to leave. Realizing that we didn't have many pictures with Fr. Gareth, we decided to snap one more before leaving for the airport.

As we were leaving, I thought to myself, "I don't think I've ever seen Fr. Gareth's smile so big."

And because I know you love them, here's a self-portrait of Tim and me eating while waiting for a bus, or a train, or something.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A night in London: Tasty Pasties, Chess, Japanese Ocean Views, and Stonehenge. No Messin'!

Our next stop was London for its famous cornish pasties (pronounced "past" as in "past tense"). If you are unfortunate enough not to have eaten a cornish pasty, book the next flight. These flakey baked pies are filled with meat and vegetables, and are worth the trip. (If you can't afford the ticket / don't have the time, don't worry...they're practically the same thing as pot pies - Mike) (No they're not. They're essentially different, perhaps opposed - Tim)


But we did do some other stuff, the best of which was at the British Museum. We saw:

The funny little Lewis Chessmen, made in the 12th century and found in the 18th

Hokusai's famous print, The Breaking Wave Off Kanagawa

A day trip to Stonehenge

And a funny sign (in the Underground)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Studying too much...

Is not the reason for the lack of updates for the past month. That could, however, be the reason for the next few weeks since we've been out of town quite a bit.

First, we spent a night in Paris. After making friends with a Japanese guy at our hostel, we took a stroll and ended up at a small bar, where we met Patrick. Patrick was an interesting character. Somewhat inebriated and a passionate fan of American rock bands, Patrick bought us two rounds of Leffe beers (add to the good list) as we tried to understand who SiMongArfUnkl and Creeznseclerwaterrefifal were. Somehow this "conversation" lasted over an hour.

Patrick in his signature pose surprising our Japanese friend with a smack on the cheek

We then made our way up the Eiffel Tower.

Notre Dame was quite impressive. Attending Mass in French made me realize how much I understand in Italian, little as it is.

The day ended, appropriately, with crepes.

Chicken and cheese for me, like Mom makes, and ham, cheese, and mushrooms for Mike.

And, in our tradition of cutting flights and trains entirely too close, we managed to almost miss our plane to London: our luggage, with boarding confirmation slips inside, was locked, and the key was nowhere to be found. Luckily, Mike managed to untwist and cut the cord holding the lock using scissors borrowed from the lady at the nearby desk.

Next posts include a night in London (we made it), five days in Wales, and four in Ireland. No, really.