Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pasta, Pastry, Panetone!!!

Don’t be surprised if you see me again and I weigh at least 5 kg’s more, as all of sudden my good eating habits has gone out the window. Not only have I discovered that here it is perfectly natural to eat cake for breakfast, but also that pasta is served for lunch and dinner. Not to mention that my new housemate believes in buying everything that is traditionally Italian for me to taste.

Today I ate Panetone which is about as traditional Milanese as you can go. This cake you can buy at the supermarket and is usually eaten on Christmas and New Year with a glass of sparkling wine.  My house mate Silvia informs me that people also eat it for breakfast, we had it for lunch. This cake is a breadlike with raisins and citrus peel. There are many fables that tell of the origin of this cake.   Now they make it also with chocolate, which I prefer of course ;-).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

All in one week

I love arriving in a new city for the first time, it is the fruition of weeks of anticipation and then suddenly there it is this new place that holds new things to discover. The thrill of difference is there at once, the air smells different, and sometimes the language is different and all of this is accompanied by my own expectations to find at least one thing that is magical, one thing that is new, one thing that is familiar, one thing that is universal, and one thing about myself.

My entry into this city brought similar thrills yet it was different as this time I come to the city not just as voyeur who will consume the thrills and leave again, this time I arrive in hopes that somehow this city will also accept me and let me stay.   

So far it has been welcoming.  My new housemate a lovely young Italian girl and her father came to pick me up at the airport, and I could not have asked for friendlier and more hospitable people. I was taken by car and found indeed already a very familiar scene, that of very busy roads and trucks that overtake you.  At my new apartment I felt immediately welcome as the housemate’s father pulled out a chair and stuffed a chocolate pudding into my hands.  

The past few days were a mix of me trying to orientate myself, me trying to use my new Italian language skills (which is very bad I’ve realised), me rushing to get the right documents for a permit of stay and me wondering how my housemate manages to stay thin with all the pasta that she eats.

I also had an unexpected second evening working as a waitress at the opening of a new restaurant with my new house mate. This proved a challenge to my language skills, fortunately the restaurant had a buffet which took away some of the pressure of taking and explaining orders. It being only my second night in Italy I appeared most of the time wide eyed and overwhelmed and was continuously reminded by the restaurant owner to smile and look happy, I did really try to look happy, because in fact I felt happy inside, but the vastness of emotions and disbelief that I am in Milan , and trying to apply my new language skills and not to mention the icy cold weather all made it very difficult for my face to respond.  When we left the restaurant at 1:30 that night, I was ready to fall over.   I did however earn 30 euro and got an introduction to some of the traditional Italian foods.  
Today I finally got the time to walk around and I walked for 4 hours al the way through the Navigli district up to the Duomo around to a park and back through Port Genova all the way back to my apartment. It was in this stroll when I was in the historical centre that it finally struck me, I am now living in Milan. I found its beauty, I was blown away by the old buildings and the majestical Duomo.  

So in one week I’ve been to a wedding on a farm in the Freestate, flown from Johannesburg to Amsterdam to Milan, I’ve seen snow for the first time and I have waitressed at an Italian restaurant.  Overwhelming but amazing. I feel truly blessed.