Ciao Readers! So, I am trying to write this on an iPad as I am out of town and I can’t actually see what I’ve typed (weird)… So I will make this short…. My friend Bobbi, who I met in Florence through her blog http://www.goal42.wordpress.com, had the idea to write an article about our respective expat experiences, in the form of a series of interviews. She submitted the article to InterNations, an organization that helps expats all over the world (she single-handedly dealt with the editor and all the emails, edits, etc.)….and what do you know, they published our article today!!! Now, fair warning, you will need to subscribe to InterNations to access the article, but when you get the email confirmation with $ choices, just click “no thanks” in the bottom right corner and you’ll be able to access the article (and more) for free! And, yes, we know it’s long – the intent was a 4- part series…. Enjoy!
All posts tagged expats
Posted by Webmaster/newmexicotoitaly on November 18, 2013
Ciao Readers! And Happy Birthday Mom!
As some of you may remember (and others of you may have heard about from us elders), when I was a kid there was a very popular t.v. show called “Happy Days” featuring “The Fonz” (or “Fonzie” to his friends). To my 9 year-old self, the super cool Fonzie was all that and a bag of chips – I actually wanted to be The Fonz, mini jeans jacket and all (not leather at age 9). So it is with a sad heart that I acknowledge that The Fonz is the unwitting father of the phrase “jumps the shark,” which Wikipedia defines as “indicating the moment when a brand, design, or creative effort’s evolution loses the essential qualities that initially defined its success and declines, ultimately, into irrelevance.” Just in case you don’t know the actual genesis of the phrase, in an episode in 1977, The Fonz literally jumped a shark (on water-skis). D’oh!
Which brings us to my blog. I think we’ve had a good run, yes? But now I feel like it’s time to end it, before it “devolves into irrelevance,” or “jumps the shark” as the saying goes. I have actually downloaded a ton more pictures and have drafted several more posts, but they just don’t have the same enthusiastic tone as in the past (whether that be enthusiasm for delicious food or for complaining about lines at the post). So, instead of forcing out more blog posts at this point, I think I’ll take a lesson from yet another t.v. character, George Costanza, and walk out on a high note.
I thank you, sincerely, dear Readers, for coming with me on this journey over the past year. I have appreciated your comments, warm wishes, advice and thoughts, and I have enjoyed discovering many of your respective blogs (and getting to meet some of you in person!). If you’d like to keep in touch and don’t already have my e-mail, post a comment and I’ll send you my e-mail (I can see your e-mail address when I get your comment).
(N.B. – For those of you who haven’t had enough, I am still mulling over the idea of turning this blog and other unpublished thoughts into a book, working title “To Italy and Back Again: An Expat’s Tale” ©. And yes, goal42, I am still up for a co-blog post!)
Arrivederci e buona fortuna!!!
Posted by Webmaster/newmexicotoitaly on April 29, 2013
Hello Readers! And Happy Spring!
Well, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t blogged in a bit. That’s because I’ve been composing this “Dear John” letter to Italy (okay, in all honesty I wrote it in about 10 minutes and have been mulling it over). I was trying to remember if I’d ever actually written a “Dear John” letter before and I don’t think I have. I prefer face-to-face when it comes to serious subjects. However, in this case, this is as close as I think I can get.
Posted by Webmaster/newmexicotoitaly on April 5, 2013
Today I am sharing with you (only figuratively, as it’s all for me & Steve!) the wonderfully thoughtful care package my sis-in-law sent (thanks again!!!). As you may recall, back when, I had a post entitled “Groceries of My Dreams.” Well, my sis-in-law decided to send some of those things, as well as some other goodies. Very thoughtful of her, yes? And I bet she paid alot more to ship it here than the cost of the actual contents of the box….
So, you would think sending it DHL and paying a large fee would get our box here easily. Ha! (Have you not been paying attention this past year?) NOTHING in Italy is that easy. First came the forms (there are ALWAYS forms). Since this was “food” (I’m not sure 4 out of 5 nutritionist would agree), it required a Ministry of Health form. With that, we had to send Steve’s passport and permesso (why on earth would a jar of Fluff require all this?!?!). And then for the final insult to injury….wait for it….
For receiving a wonderful gift, we had the privilege of having to pay customs 81 euros to hand over the box (about $105.00)!!! So, I am pretty sure at this point we are now in the possession (though not for long) of the world’s most expensive tortilla chips. (As I opened the bag and began to eat them I would count with each one, “one dollar, two dollars….”). But man, are they good!
Some of the goodies we got:
The moral of today’s post is: Be careful what you wish for!
Posted by Webmaster/newmexicotoitaly on March 28, 2013
Well, I think I am about done showing you around Paris and Amsterdam (for this trip). So, it’s back to Italy we go. I have been trying to find a way to humorously explain how aggravated I felt at coming back into Italy and again having to fight for my life getting on and off the train, breathing in all of the smoke (in Paris there are no smoking signs on the platforms and I saw them being enforced!) and just feeling all around less civilized than I had in Paris and Amsterdam.
At the same time, I have also been trying to find a way to incorporate this very funny video (produced by an Italian) which explores exactly these issues. So, instead of listening to me being grumpy, I share with you a very funny look at “Italy v. Europe” (and I agree with all of it except the coffee part). It’s worth the few minutes, really! Enjoy….
Have a great weekend!
Posted by Webmaster/newmexicotoitaly on March 15, 2013
I have begun to crystallize my thoughts from our recent road trip. And, while I could just share those thoughts directly, I believe I can best illustrate them though my favorite medium – food. Every time we traveled to Europe in the past we were always in search of the local specialties – pasta and pizza in Italy, cheese and croissants in France, and so on. So we really paid no attention to what other types of food were available or what the eating habits of the locals were like. This trip changed all that.
As you may recall, I have gone on many wild goose chases trying to source ingredients to prepare non-Italian foods and have tried the few foreign food places we have found here. However, the conclusion I have come to (which has been validated by numerous Italians) is that Italians like Italian food. Not only do Italians like Italian food, but they like all things Italian (apparently even their felony-convicted former Prime Minister). Not only do they like Italian things, but they like them pretty much to the exclusion of non-Italian things. That is why (in a direct way) it’s so hard to find variety in food here, and (in a more subtle way) why I feel such a strong sense of being a “stranieri.” As the Italians I have discussed this with put it simply, Italians, especially Florentines, are “chiuso” (closed). (Interestingly enough, these Italians usually take the form of folks who don’t feel that way – the man that owns the little Korean grocery and is married to a Korean woman; my language exchange partner who has traveled the world). To be honest, until this trip to Paris and Amsterdam I didn’t realize the rest of Europe wasn’t the same way….
My first clue that things are not the same throughout Europe came while walking down our street in Paris. While of course there were amazing French bakeries and bistros (more in a later post), there were tons of foreign food places. Not one or two – tons! The next clue came when we decided to try out a Japanese place we saw (we had to choose which of several we saw within a block). We went during lunch and the place quickly filled up – with Parisians – businessmen and older women and everyone in-between. Other than ourselves, we only heard French spoken. And, much to my surprise, almost everyone was eating with chopsticks! (As background, I have only ever seen two Italians eat with chopsticks – one being my language exchange partner who lived in Korea for 6 months and the other being a woman at PinGusto who was unsuccessfully trying to stab her sushi with one.) This was not some exotic experience to these folks…it was lunch. (For us it was our first unagi [eel] and non-salmon sashimi in 6 months.)
We had pretty much similar experiences throughout Paris. Even at the upscale Lafayette Gourmet market, in addition to French foie gras (again, more in a later post), there was an entire stall for Chinese delicacies. The regular grocery stores had things we thought didn’t exist in Europe – cheddar cheese and Oreos and Asian sauces and more. And, while I have to say the hot sauce was nowhere near hot enough for my taste, the chips we got at the Mexican restaurant “Fajitas” were those fabulous thin-crispy ones I miss so much. There was at least as much variety in Amsterdam (as well as the ability to eat before 8 p.m.). And, while we enjoyed the local specialties there as well (stay tuned), we had what I could consider the best Thai green curry I’ve ever had. Now, no offense to my favorite Thai place back in Albuquerque, but instead of 80% bamboo shoots (as I’m used to), my curry was filled with every vegetable on the planet. Thinking the curry was going to be tamed-down for European taste buds (as was the Paris hot sauce), I made the mistake of asking for it “hot” and got what I asked for (anyone whose ever eaten authentic Thai understands what Thai hot means). I loved every last mouth-searing second of it!!! (Sadly enough, the hot sauce at the Amsterdam Mexican place we tried, while billed as “habenero,” was only about medium-Pace level hot.)
Now, I know you may be thinking it was weird of us to be eating all these non-French, non-Dutch foods on our trip… As my Lonely Planet “Amsterdam Encounter” put it (under a review of a Mexican place): “[Mexican food] is probably not why you came to Amsterdam.” However, for us it was just the culinary (and thus cultural) relief we needed. (Amsterdam also gave us our first peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and first bagel in the past 6 months.) We also came across an American grocery store – one with real American groceries (not the fake Filipino graham crackers or Swedish tortillas of Vivi Market). Now, before you get too excited for us (especially after you see the picture of the front window, below), know that the prices were insanely high. I have to admit, we did each treat ourselves to one thing, but pretty much just “ooooo’d” and “ahhhhhh’d” (just as an example, one thing we did not splurge on was a normal sized Reese’s candy bar – 2.10 euros, or about $2.80). We chatted with the proprietor and he said he has many customers from Florence, including a professor who comes 4 times a year and fills up an empty suitcase! Interesting.
The result of these culinary discoveries was that I realized Italy really is the fairly homogenous society I suspected it of being. And it likes it that way. The second discovery was that other parts of Europe are much more international and open to foreign influences. I hate to say it, but I felt much more comfortable and welcomed in Paris and Amsterdam than I do here most of the time. People seemed friendlier and less annoyed at the Italian/French/English mish-mosh I was speaking. I have no idea why the French get a bad rap – this is the 3rd time we’ve been there and people have always been nice (saying “bonjour” and “s’il vous plaît” probably helped).
I have many more reflections that fit better in upcoming posts, so for now I’ll leave you with some of the non-local food we enjoyed (or admired) on our trip:
Posted by Webmaster/newmexicotoitaly on March 1, 2013
Ciao Readers! And Happy (early) Birthday Sachi!!!
Back by popular demand, today I again present “The Puppetinos,” starring in their very own prequel. In this episode, we go back across the pond and see how it all began (thanks for seeding the NM idea, Tuscan Traveler!) (and thanks to my sis-in-law for the photo of Hurricane’s “Disaster Burrito”). And yes, I know, I currently have too much time on my hands…
So, dear Readers, I will leave you with this video for now. As Steve has time off from work coming up and we have a fabulous train trip through three countries planned, I am going to sign off for a couple weeks and come back when I have new and interesting things to say (you’ll get to find out which countries then….). (Hopefully my toe will be healed enough in time for our trip!)
Feel free to send an old-fashioned e-mail in the meantime (wow – is e-mail already passé?). Ciao for now!
Posted by Webmaster/newmexicotoitaly on February 14, 2013