Sunday, December 6, 2009

a persian in rome

It's been a week now (still haven't grasped being in rome) and its going well. It has been an adjustment to say the least. There's always a trial period when I start in a new kitchen, and at times I didn't know if I'd fit into this one, but everything seems to be falling into place.

The week ended much better than it had begun, working on saturday with a few of the fellows from the academy and some of the children on the property. Much to my delight, the head chef Mona, told me that I was a good cook and that she was excited to work with me. Having had a rocky first week, this was the jumpstart I needed to know I had made the right decision for my externship. A few days into my externship, Mona had told me about her love of Persian food, that its her secret passion, and has many persian cookbooks and friends feeding this love. One of the fellows at the academy is a scholar of persian music. Tonight, Mona was having a dinner party where she was making some persian food, and invited me along this morning to help her cook it.

I was excited to spend time with her, which would not only help build our relationship, but to be able to show her some things from my culture. I made some fereni that she was going to serve with rose petals and pistachios from her friend Leila. I also made the dough for barbary, showed her how to make polo and tadig, and helped with the lamb khoresht. It was a fun day, especially since I learned to use the espresso machine at our bar, which ill be using everyday from now on :-D

We all found out we are off on tuesday together, which is a rarity, so we have been brainstorming day trips, and might possibly be venturing down to naples for the day... :-D a demani!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Buongiorno tutti! It’s now my 5th day in Rome, though I still don’t quite believe it. I think it may take me another week to fully realize that I will be living here until April, but it’s alright since I have the time to do so at my leisure. I started work in the kitchen on Monday, and honestly had no idea what to expect. Though I know the principles of the Rome Sustainable Food Project, the way the kitchen was run had still been a mystery. (and in italiano)

Work started bright and early at around 7am on Monday, though being me, I arrived at about 6:10 to a dark kitchen whose keys I had not received yet. To say it was an off day would be the nicest way to put it. At about 7:30, while dutifully wiping down the counter around my area, my pointer and middle fingers were sliced along the length of my chef knife, therby ensuing blood gushing onto the wall of the hand washing sink where I went to take care of my cut. It bled until the end of the night, causing me to have to change my gloves every hour or so because blood would fill up the areas around my finger. For the next day or so, everytime I uncovered my finger it would start bleeding again, but seems to be doing okay now, the wound healing up nicely. So anyways back to work, due to this injury, on my right hand nonetheless, my quality of work suffered, I couldn’t work quite as fast, not to mention get my mental mise en place together enough to focus on the tasks at hand. All of that combined I think made me look farily incompetent to the sous chef Chris… what an amazing first impression I had made.

The next night went 100% better, as I worked with the dinner chef, Dominico, an Italian cook who spent much of the night making fresh pasta for the main course at dinner. I took care of the primi, or the first plate, which consisted of fava bean puree, sautéed chiciory and dandelion greens, marinated geta olives, and bruschetta. To complete four components on a plate by myself was quite satisfying, given the previous days events. I believe I will be working with Chris again tonight, so I hope I can prove to him and show him that I deserve to be here. Afterall, he is the one grading my externship manual modules. Other than getting situated into Roman life, there is not much to report. Given some miscommunication and unorginization, our sleeping arrangements have been off and on for the past few days, but they should be clearing up soon. All I need to do now is improve my Italian so I won’t feel like such a foreigner when I try to order an espresso at the bar (café). Ciao!