I leave for Sicily tomorrow, my family has been here all week, and we went to Rome. I'll deal with all that later, but for now, life in Siena has been pretty awesome. Despite literally two weeks of non-stop rain...
First off, brace yourselves...I made pasta and dessert by hand in the kitchen of a delicious Italian restaurant. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am the absolute worst cook in the world. But, rest assured, I managed to not burn the place down, and after eating my creations...was still alive. Success.
We started by making cantucci, a bread/cookie dessert with almonds and sugar and honey and deliciousness. They turned out perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, I felt the need to sneak a couple off the plate, and got totally called out by the chef. Turned out he was saying "they're yours, take as many as you want," which makes the fact that I was sneaking them even more embarassing. Cue the red face.
Then we moved onto the main event, the pasta. First we did gnocchi, and basically just made a dough with huge globs of potatos and flour and whatnot, then cut it into little gnocchi shapes. We then shoved our hands into piles of essentially just flour and eggs and starting mixing away to create the dough for the rest of the pasta. When we were done mixing, the dough was then put into a machine that flattened it all out for us to cut, fill and shape. My favorite were the caramelle, little pastas in the shape of candies filled with either ricotta and spinach or eggplant. We got to personalize a bunch of the pastas too, which was fun.
Next, we ate it all. Literally. All of it. Seven types of pasta and cantucci. Insane.
Life at home has been a lot of fun recently as well (not that it isn't all the time). Yesterday, Faith and I helped Gabriello, Stella's 17 year old step-son with his English homework. And by helped, I mean I just sat there, bewildered by the difficulty of his work, occassionally helping to translate some. Faith, the English major, was really the most useful, because she could explain what the heck Shakespeare was actually saying. Without her, I was just as lost as Gabriello. Some of the lineup included Romeo and Juliet, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, and a lesson on the whigs and torries. Whigs and torries, really?!
I've learned a lot about the Italian school system recently, actually. I've always known that their tests are oral, "interrogazione," as they are called in Italian (intimidating, huh?), but I didn't really understand what exactly that meant until I befriended people who have to go through it. It's a one on one question and answer session with the teacher, with the door open so that the entire class can hear. No thank you. The only plus side, you can just say "I don't like my grade, ask me another question," if you are unsatisfied. That, I wouldn't mind. One must also take a test at the end of each high school year to move to the next grade. Pressure much? These are the reasons my Italian friends are ALWAYS studying, even if the test isn't for a month.
My Italian professor brought up another good point as well. Italian students don't do the whole "wait till the day before the test to study" thing American students are so accustomed to. Because, if you are dragging and look like crap and obviously haven't slept, you aren't making a good impression on the teacher who is evaluating you. Also, they don't write papers. What is that.
Family dinners have been particularly fun recently, usually leaving me in tears of laughter (although that's not too hard). Last night, Francesco, Stella, Natascia and Gabriello spent a good five minutes repeating "come" and "came" back and forth, as they were reciting tense paradigms, like "drink drank drunk." I tried a few, and I really realized how STRANGE the English language is. "Go. Went. Gone." Seriously, who thought of that...it makes no sense.
Anyways, Cosimo is still as cute as ever, and getting more so every day. Today he ran into Faith and I's room and yelled "Rache" and "Faity" before even greeting Stella. Love him.
Oh, and I got a haircut today! The Italian salon was definitely an experience. Despite the fact that the lady who cut my hair spoke no English, and that the only words I knew about hair styling were written on a sticky note in my pocket, it didn't turn out too horribly. I did walk out of there with some intense curls after the styling session, though...
My program is leaving for Sicily tomorrow and won't return until Sunday evening. We will be touring the city, meeting with an anti-mafia group, climbing Mt. Etna, and eating Sicilian food, aka the best kind of food. More updates to come when I return. A presto!