Feb 24, 2009

Carnival Pictures

I took these pictures while walking around Venice. Hope you enjoy!

Feb 19, 2009

Tortelli de Milano--- Delicious Homemade Carnival Treat!

I have really attempted to have a good relationship with our neighbors (all Italian). For example, we brought all of them a huge Christmas Cookie basket for the Holidays and have recieved small little things from them as well. We always speak (as well as we can) and I feel like they value us as neighbors.

Today our grandmotherly neighbor brought us an amazing HOME-MADE Carnival Dessert!! It was amazing! It tasted like a combination between a doughnut and a funnel cake. But it was even better than that. It was sweet and airy with a slight lemony/orangy flavor.

I found out some information about this Tortelli de Milano. Tortelli di Milano, “Tortei de Carnevaa a la Milanese”. They are fried sweet dough, similar to doughnuts, covered with sugar and cinnamon. Many Italian Carnival holiday traditions include a sweet version of an everyday dish as if to imitate the concept of Carnival where things are never what they seem to be. They are delicious!

I found a reciepe for this delicious sweet Treat online:

1 ¼ (150 g) All-Purpose Flour
½ stick (50 g) Butter
¼ cups (50 g) Sugar
2 ¼ cups (500 ml) Milk
2 tsp (12 g) Double Acting Baking Powder
1 Lemon Peel
½ tsp Vanilla
1 tbsp Rum
Olive Oil to fry with (or preferred frying oil)

Powdered SugarPreparation:
In a large pot, mix together the sugar, vanilla, milk, 2 1/4 cups (500 ml) of water, the butter cut into pieces, the peel of 1 lemon. Bring the mixture to a boil.

In a separate bowl mix the baking powder and flour. Remove from the heat and remove the Lemon Peel. Add the flour mixture to the liquid stirring briskly. Place the pot on the heat again and cook for 10 minutes continually stirring.

The dough will separate from the sides of the pot, similar to the procedure for Bigne. Remove from heat and allow the dough to cool for about 5 minutes. Add the whole eggs, one a time, working with your hands if necessary. Add the Rum. Set aside.

Heat the frying oil in a heavy skillet or deep fryer. Test the oil temperature by placing a small amount of dough and watching it fry. The oil should not smoke and the dough should take on a golden color.Use a tablespoon to create small balls of dough. Add them directly to the oil. Cook on both sides until golden. Remove from the oil and allow the Tortelli to drain on a wire rack. Serve hot with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Buon Appitito!!

Feb 18, 2009

Italy to increase troops in Afghanistan

Here is an excerpt from a news story I came across today.

Italy is to increase its troops in Afghanistan in response to a call from the United States, Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said after meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.

La Russa said the number of Italian troops in Afghanistan was already being raised from some 2,300 to 2,800, and the government "might consider" asking the parliament for more reinforcements to help safeguard the Afghan elections in August.

He did not specify what that "hypothetical" number might be.
La Russa echoed other ministers in noting that Italy was the third-biggest contributor to the NATO mission and called on other European Union countries to shoulder more of the burden.
Last week Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said troops would go up to 2,800 and their deployment would be more flexible.

He said it was time for other major European countries to "play their part."
Stressing the need for a political solution alongside military action, Frattini underscored the importance of a conference on Afghanistan featuring all the regional players, which Italy has called as Group of Eight president.

The conference, focusing on stabilizing the Afghan-Pakistani border, will take place in Trieste in June.

Feb 17, 2009


Carnevale (Carnival) is celebrated throughout Italy and the world (think Mardi Gras). Venice's version is a little bit different with elaborate, colourful masks and costumes that are known around the world. This year Carnavale will be from February 15th and will end on Martedì Grasso (Fat Tuesday) and marking the beginning of the Lenten season.

Venice will be swarming with giant crowds of people, amazing music, georgous costumes, and delicious food. The most recognizable part of the festival is surely the masks, which often feature feathers and/or glitter and include representations of jokers, animals, and puppets.

Masks in Venice date back to the 13th century. At that time the purpose of the masks were so that you would be unrecognizable and would be able to commit any deed without being recognized. In the 14th century, the rulers decided they didn't want the such sin being associated with their city and all masqueraders were prohibited from walking the streets in the dark. The party turned into a much more subdude one.

In the 1930's Mussolini banned the celebration in Venice, but in the early 1980s, a small group of Venetian artisans helped get things moving again, helping to create the Carnevale we know and love today. Bringing tourism back to the beloved Venice!

We will be going to Carnavale next weekend, so be on the lookout for some pictures!

Feb 15, 2009

"Sweet Home Vicenza??"........

There has been a lot of protesting here in Vicenza about the expansion of the American military base. Dal Molin (the new base) is a huge controversy that is evident almost everywhere you look. There are signs , graffiti, and banners placed all over the city to show the Italian Government and the Americans that the expansion is not wanted. The expansion would essentially double the size of the base so that it could house the full 173rd Airborne Brigade. The number of military troops here would grow to about 4,500 from 2,750. These protests have been happening since the beginning talks of expansion in 2006. Some protestors are anti-war and view this type of demonstration as an outlet for their view. Some are anti-American and do not want us here at all. Some are worried about the historical preservation of Vicenza and the damage that might be done to the city in the expansion. Some are upset that the base will be built over a water supply and are against it for environmental reasons. Some people have stated that they are not anti-American or anit-war, but are protesting their own governments decision to expand the base.

Usually we recieve warnings of the protests so that we can avoid them, but when the protest passes by your house, it is kind of hard to ignore it. I took some pictures and videos from our balcony. Reamer pretty much stayed inside because we knew that they would definately recognize him as a solider and probably wouldn't be very kind. I thought it was kind of funny that they mostly played American music during the protest! It just seemed kind of ironic that one of the reasons for the protests is preservation of their culture with some anti-American sentiment but they were dancing around to "Sweet Home Alabama" and American Oldies!!! The two seem to contradict eachother.

Feb 11, 2009

Cultural Differences

After living in Itlay for almost 7 months, I have made some observations about the differences in our cultures. Before arriving in Italy I had assumed some things that are not necessarily true.

I used to think that the culture would be very traditional especially in the roles of men and women. This is something that I have come to realize is not true! In my opinion Italian men are the epitomy of what would be considered "metro-sexual" in the States. Appearance is very important to them. They seem to be very weight conscience (as do all Italians). Their clothing looks very feminine (tight pants, tight shirts, fur-clad clothing etc....). The idea of chivalery seems to be nonexistant as well. For example, my friends and I were drinking coffee at a cafe and a bum/gypsy came up to us begging for money. The tactics used here are sometimes more aggressive (with words only) and we were obviously annoyed. He kept screaming to us about "nunca Dio" (we don't have a God...) etc...He also went to another table filled with Italian women and did the same thing. He didn't go to the table with the man that was sitting right beside us. In America the man would have definately stepped in and would have told him to leave us alone. But not here. The man felt no instinct to help us or to step in at all. (Eventually he went away on his own).

After speaking with many Italian women, the differences between American men and Italian men are definately evident. Most Italian men are very much "momma's boys" most live at home until their 30's and even 40's! This is also true for most Italian women. The ambition to leave their "hometown" is usually nonexistant and the American ideal of "ambition" doesn't seem to exist. It is odd that in the country where the fantasy of romance, poetry and chivalry seem to fill our American minds that at this day and age is simply not true. I have come to realize why this sterotype seems to stay in our minds while looking at it from the naked eye. One simple reason is that they live at home until they are 40!!!!! They do not have a choice but to have extreme PDA in public. So as Americans, we see a couple making out on a blanket in the park and we think "Wow! How romantic! They must really be in love... They can't keep their hands off eachother... etc...." The real reason is that they are 30 years old, live with their momma, and don't have anywhere else to "court" their girlfriend(s). (This blog is seeming to become a little harsh... It is clear that I have spoken to several disgruntled Italian women).

Another difference that is evident is the idea of confrontation. Italians are not afraid of confrontation. I actually think that they enjoy it. In America we are afraid of it. I think that the reason for this is that it is relatively "safe" to have a screaming match in Italy. (It is illegal to punch someone with a fist.... only open faced palms can legally be used in a fight). In America (especially in certain area's) you could be frightened for your life if you were to enter into such wild confrontations! In Itlay, verbal fighting seems to be accepted and in some cases expected.

The idea of order and rule following is something that differs as well. Rules in Italy seem to be only suggestions. (especially when it comes to driving). For example, when they came out with a machine that would catch your license plate while you are speeding on the autostrada the same week that this technology was released everyone already had discovered how to get out of it! (spraying hairspray on the plate would make it unreadable).

I have noticed many more interesting differences between America and Italy and I will write more blog entries on this topic soon! Caio!!!

Feb 6, 2009

Look very carefully!

My friend DeDe was the Bachelorette, and I have been keeping up with her and what is going on in her life. It's so neat seeing her get to do all of this exciting stuff! So I was looking up videos on her on youtube and I came across this video. Look very carefully when they show the old pictures of her! I laughed out loud when I noticed this! You might see a really short glimpse of me ;)