Month: May 2015

I’m Taking a Staycation

Tuesday is apparently the anniversary of the unification of Italy. That means Monday we have off from school, obviously. And well, if I were a professor, I would want a five day weekend too, so no class Wednesday either. Given this ample expanse of free time, my ever-multitasking mind ping-ponged between places to go romp around for a few days. Copenhagen? No, too rainy. Barcelona? Not quite ready for tapas again. Somewhere in Italy? Eh, maybe. After a few hours of some futile internet research, some muesli and many open tabs later, I realized what I really wanted: a staycation. Since arriving in November, I have spent quite a few weekends away from this place that I currently call “home.” Without these jaunts, I think I would go a little bit cray cray (well, more than I already am). Bra is sometimes just so… humdrum. And for me, planning 36-hour itineraries and cruising through market halls and contemporary art museums and successfully zipping up my carry on bag is just so… exciting. But right now, instead of planning where I’m going next, I would …

Mad for MAD

Prime people watching in Retiro park. Apparently it is illegal for people to go shirtless in the city, but I didn’t see any arrests out in the lake. Ah, España. You and your tapas and late bedtimes. Last weekend I popped into Madrid for a few days to catch up with a friend from school and unexpectedly also indulge in some solid brunch. Let me tell you, the neighborhood to be is Malasaña. Street art, coffee, more coffee and boutiques tucked in here and there. If you can deal with expats of the Instagramming and gossiping variety, a few places I would recommend for a java jolt in this hood are: Toma Café. Major props for the witty postcards, the cold brew and the ’90s pop playlist they had goin’ on. Federal. Aussie inspired. Flat whites and vegan smoothies galore. Beware people at the communal table stealing your avocado toast (true story). La Bicicleta. A real coffee shop, like the laptop/work kind of place. A wonderful mixture of couches and segregated seating for people who want to type …

A Brutally Honest Review of EXPO Milano 2015

The biggest winners at the EXPO? The designers, architects and illustrators who were commissioned to design the pavilions and the content inside. Yesterday, I made the journey over to the World’s Fair, which started on May 1 with a mild case of anti-capitalist protests and angry op-eds about the fact that the lead sponsors include McDonald’s and CocaCola–companies that don’t exactly jive with the tagline of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” A few things to note: the site IS in fact there. Like the lead up to any Olympics, haters gonna hate and say that there will be no doors on the bathroom stalls or something like that. There is actually a railway stop right outside the fairgrounds, which is quite convenient. It is where I met up with my friend Joe (who I had many an adventure with in Buenos Aires) and his girlfriend Paola, studying abroad in Florence and up to Milan to rendezvous for the day. Without really knowing what was going on, we took our first steps inside the UN …

Too Little Time in Too Cool a City: A-Dam

Sooo…when can I move in? Last weekend I fed the travel bug again and took advantage of the super cheap flights that can get you pretty much anywhere around Europe as long as you don’t mind feeling like a cow before slaughter and only packing in a carry on. Maybe I’ll make a ranking one day of all these airlines that I have experienced over here. Anyways, Transavia wasn’t that bad. They were all wearing shamrock green and it was amusing to listen to Dutch. After a solid couple hour delay on the runway because of a thunderstorm, we arrived late into Amsterdam and a little bit all over the place to our Airbnb in the Jordaan neighborhood. I will take a brief time out here and say that Lene, our host, was far and away the kindest and cutest of them all. She reminded me of a feather who happened to be wearing Nike shoes. A couple days before our trip, she took the time to send a list of 27 (27!) things to do, …

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

I am not a coffee snob, so I accepted the chocolate shavings on top of my cappuccino with glee. Others might shudder.  I’m almost two weeks (12 days exactly) into my sans coffee life. No espresso. No iced coffee. No cappuccino. No nothing.  It’s wonderful. I feel invincible. Well, I’m still scared of large dogs. But definitely thumbs up. Here in Italy, the consumption of coffee is a highly social behavior almost exclusively engaged in while standing up for under 5 minutes at a time. With that in mind, here is a look into my university environment. Let’s have a cappuccino before class and talk about the day ahead. Va bene. And then at our 10:30 AM break, let’s have an espresso and talk about how tired we still are. Then after lunch, to help digestion, obviously, we will have an espresso. (I’m curious about those digestion claims, by the way.) At the 2:30 slump, we will have another one while we look longingly outside at the sun-drenched courtyard. What’s the count? I’ve lost track …

What I’ve Been Listening To

So I’ve realized that I’ve given lots of info lately on what I’ve been reading and watching, but not necessarily on what I’ve been listening to. Back home in sunny CA, I always had something playing in the car to keep me company while cruising on 101 North. Here in Bra, I live by myself, so a stream of musical notes or a podcast keeps me company in this little IKEA-decked-out place I’ve called home for 6 months (wow, how time flies). I also bike to school and tend to take long, meandering walks where I encounter unexpected things like old men on horses and dogs who want to chase me. Confession: I have been on a bit of a podcast bender lately. I know, there are worse things. These are a few I would recommend: Burnt Toast by Food52. This is a new one in the game, but the topics so far have been spot-on. The last episode covered the eternal question of whether it is advisable to go out to eat on a first date and some memorable food stories from …

Chef’s Table, From the Couch

Netflix has a new, original series out that you should be adding to “My List” (no, not my list, your my list) right this second. It’s called Chef’s Table. Now, I hear you saying, basta with the chef porn. Mind of a Chef? Been there done that. A Chef’s Life? That too. But this one is a little different. More thoughtful, more artistic, less science-y, less drama. The structure is an almost-hour segment devoted to six chefs talking about their philosophy, current-day environment, humble beginnings, catastrophic failures, ingredients, families, etc. There are also some glorious, affirming statements made by a rotating crew of “expert food writers” from top newspapers and magazines in each segment. You can either choose the binge-watching strategy and cruise through all six at the same time (not recommended) or take your time. The director and producer is David Gelb–the same guy that was responsible for putting out Jiro Dreams of Sushi, so get ready for some sweeping orchestral music and some long shots of sashimi being fondled. Here’s my quick and dirty review of what went …

What’s in a Frame?

Can you spot my frame? What is obscured? What peeks through? Do you recognize any of the scraps of paper expertly taped together by some B-grade, Italian non-Scotch tape? I realize it’s been awhile since the “Grad School” section of this blog has seen any action. Yes, I’ve been traveling a lot (maybe too much… as I sit here battling a sinus infection) lately. But I do actually go to school too. I swear. This week wrapped up a course on Meaning and Representation, two chunks of my long-a** program title: Master in Food Communication and Culture: Representation, Meaning and Media. The media part is easy enough to explain to people. I usually use helpful synonyms like “journalism” or “documentary.” But the M+R part, not so much. So what is it? Well, here’s a glimpse into one assignment. After a week of discussing the more theoretical aspects of food (it’s material…not always! it’s something an anthropologist can study… it’s something that has to be your own lived experience!), we got down to actually DOING stuff. We were …