All posts filed under: Grad School

Bye Bye, Bra

Both the Dean and the Spiritual President (definitely his official title) were out of town, so the guy on the right here (Michele Fino, a UNISG Food Law professor) made a joke about having to bring out the B team for the graduation. The guy on the left (Slow Food International Secretary General Paolo DiCroce) was not amused. I did it! I have a Master’s degree (in Food Culture and Communication with a focus in Representation, Meaning and Media) with a title almost as long as my undergraduate degree (International and Global Studies with focuses in Political Science, Latin America, and Spanish)! After wrapping up my internship commitments here in New York at Saveur and Food Tank, launching a personal website, starting a new stream of stories for Contemporary Food Lab, turning in my thesis (a blend of personal experience and theory), I embarked upon a much needed week (or two, let’s see) of resting priority-resetting (as well as immune system-resetting). This meant good, nourishing food (chestnut and pumpkin soup!), not waking up at 5:30 AM, spending leisurely afternoons and evening drinking …

The Last Supper: UNISG Lunch Edition

Some of my classmates surveying a spread of tomatoes, pasta salads, lemon cake and lentils.  Class is over. No more 3 hour lectures stuck in uncomfortable chairs, no more attendance checks, no more bus rides to Pollenzo. By comparison to my last day at Middlebury, yesterday afternoon felt quite unremarkable. We each brought a dish that we could tell a story about, we sat down together around a large table, there was some wine, we cleaned up, and that was it. No fireworks. No nothing. I think it was partly because the visiting professor offered up some of his very apt observations about our class, namely that we were a fragmented bunch each looking ahead to going our own way. I can certainly say that I feel and have felt that way for a while–being in and around a group of 24 students was overwhelming for me at times, so I snuck in some alone time wherever I could. And now we’re headed off for a few months of internship. Some to work in kitchens, …

One Linden Leaf Roll, Please

Our contribution to the class foraging dinner: quinoa, almonds, cranberries and red pepper wrapped in leaves from a linden tree. I’m in the home stretch with classes here at UNISG. With internship and housing plans locked up in NYC, I’m looking forward to being back on my home turf. Still, a tornado of a professor blew through Aula Dominici yesterday and knocked me out of my lack-of-coffee-induced daydream. His name is Andrea Pieroni. This guy is just a breath of fresh air. Yes, he had some PowerPoint slides, but he stood in front of the elevated desk reserved for professors (in other words, not tinkering with his computer) and gesticulated around wildly for 3 hours. He talked about how sustainable gastronomy isn’t just about sitting around, drinking espresso every 1.5 hours and theorizing (which we do a lot of). It’s about going OUT–in his case, to do field research, but in our case, to meet people, to taste things and to communicate about it. I have to admit, I didn’t think I would be so intrigued by a …

Thoughts on Eating Out

My unconventional, super foodie 22nd birthday cake from Flour + Water: zucchini flower cake with burrata ice cream. Today marked the end of a somewhat lackluster few days of considering food identity with a Belgian historian. There was a little nugget in the last class: an “exam” where we could write anything we wanted about eating out. It could be a fake restaurant review. It could be a firsthand account of that time a waiter kicked you out (no, that’s never happened to me). It could be a haiku about Open Table. For whatever reason, the image of this cake popped into my mind, so I decided to write about celebrating birthdays in restaurants. I think my argument could be extended to any number of special occasions, including graduation parties or anniversaries, but I wanted to KISS (keep it simple, stupid) given that my non-blue blue book only had 4 pages in it. I love eating out. I do. I grew to love it during a semester abroad in Buenos Aires where I lived with a vegan …

Please Bring a Dish Representing Your Country

A very typical Californian meal consisting of avocado, a grain salad, some Acme bread and some cheese…gotcha! This meal was from Les Halles de Lyon! If I hear a version of this request one more time, I might…I don’t know…combust… This week we have a class called “Social History of Food” which unfortunately is quite boring. The professor has good intentions and is probably well-respected in his field, but I don’t really care about many female dishwashers from the Netherlands there were working in restaurants in Brussels in 1840. I’m sorry. A glimmer of hope in the 6 hours of lecture we have endured so far was the theme of food identity and if it’s possible to have dishes that are representative of a country (in his case, Belgium) or even a region (Europe). Now, this being an international university and all (even though I would say the breakdown is mostly Italians, Americans and “other”), this question comes up quite often. At the ever-popular “Street Food Sessions” held at the Gastronomic Society, students from India, China, Argentina and Mexico have had …

A One Year Check-In

A wonderful selection of enlightening texts on meat and German food history at a deli in Berlin that unfortunately I do not remember the name of! There’s hope for me yet, guys. If Taylor of Good Food Jobs says there is, then there is. Please read this article. It will explain a lot about where I am and what I’ve been doing in this town with a lot of 80 year old people and veal sausage. You (really, I mean I) could look at what I’ve done or not done in the last year since graduating with a degree in International and Global Studies and raise an eyebrow (or two). After deciding that a life in the State Department just wasn’t for me (this revelation came a few years ago, but still I found transitions to democracies in countries like Argentina and Chile strangely fascinating), I landed an Outreach & Communications internship at Good Food Awards–appropriately enough through Good Food Jobs. Side note: I am all over that website. It is such a wonderful resource for getting a …

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 …

Go for the Goat

The scene of the crime: Azienda Agricola Monte Jugo in Viterbo, Lazio, Italy. Pietro, our fearless tutor (not like someone that helps you get good grades, more like the person who made sure we stayed 23 people all week) on the left and Ferdinando, the owner, on the right. Yesterday and the rest of today will be filled with a seminar on “Enogastronomical Communication” (translation: Food Writing) with Corby Kummer, senior editor at The Atlantic and author of several books on making coffee. I passed Amazon links said books along to a coffee-crazed friend, noting that a lot of ground has been covered in the last 10 years and it seems now that things that were once reserved for chemistry class are not being used to brew a cup of joe. If nothing else, this man has presence. He positioned himself on top of a desk, no powerpoint in sight, with his legs crossed, showing off his 50 shades of grey socks, and we began to discuss our first of three assignments. 1. Select a 1-2 …

It’s for School, I Swear

Out in the school’s didactic garden as part of our Biodynamic Agriculture class learning what to look for in healthy soil. Not pictured: when an earthworm (a positive thing in this context) wriggled around and caused one of my classmates to shriek. Yes, I have been traveling oodles lately. But I have also been in school. Though, by the looks of these pictures, it may seem more like I’m just frolicking around eating stuff and meeting cool people. Well, that’s kind of how I would describe the University of Gastronomic Sciences anyways. It’s only 10 years old (and remember, it’s in Italy) so it doesn’t really have the traditions or structure that an older, wiser institution would have. But if you think of it, as I do, as a physical place where experts come to share little tidbits for a few days at a time with a crazy group of 23 Masters students, then you’re golden. For an Editing Techniques class a few weeks ago, we had to make a short movie promoting “fresh and …

Let’s Grow Mold Together

The setup for Day 2. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I had to include a food pun. This week our Masters class had 2 Cheese Tasting sessions with quite possibly the most eccentric food expert I have ever encountered: a little man named Cristiano de Riccardis. I would highly highly highly recommend you watch the link I just included there so you can: 1. Hear his voice 2. Die of laughter 3. Die again of laughter 4. Re-watch the last 10 seconds a few times So I have to say, cheese has really only come on my radar in the last few years, or more specifically, when I moved to a little town in a dairy producing state to study Latin American Politics. I slowly but surely realized that I really heart goat cheese thanks to the case at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op. Apart from knowing what I like and don’t like, I lacked the vocabulary to really evaluate a cheese and also the crucial knowledge of when you should eat the rind and …