I had such a chef’s high today at dinner. I am not a chef, not yet by a long shot, but that’s what I’m deciding to call the amazing feeling one gets when people are openly enjoying a meal you’ve spent hours creating. It’s really nice to hear someone say “mmmmmm” when they put the first bite of their second helping of pasta in their mouth. I get nervous that I’m going to be the only one who thinks the food I make tastes good, so today was very reassuring.

Today I made pasta alla carbonara, sautéed chicory, roasted zucchini, sage and lemon chicken, and a fresh-from-the-garden salad. I took pictures of the cooking process this time because I knew I wouldn’t have time to take pictures of the finished meal. It went over very well. I had no stress over getting things prepared or messing up recipes. I actually hardly used recipes, and when I did it was for temperatures or cook times for vegetables. Everyone made a big fuss over how delicious the carbonara was, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Even Professor Calleo, who normally I’ve been told, doesn’t say a thing, commented on the meal’s “excellent taste.” I think my success is due to the magical effects of salt. I am no longer hesitant to use it for fear of things being too salty. I practically throw handfuls of it all over the kitchen! The picture of the group is at the dinner table (with the pasta alla carbonara on our plates). Professor Calleo, my boss, is at the head of the table. His niece, Zizi, is to his left. Giacomo, the research assistant, is next to her. Zizi’s husband David is across from her and Sep, for those of you who don’t know him, is next to David. It was a nice dinner tonight. Zizi, upon request, spend most of it describing the different tessitura (vocal ranges) of opera and classical singers. There are many more than I thought, since I only know the most common soprano ranges, and it was interesting (especially from a vocal student’s perspective) to hear the real breakdown of the classifications. Professor Calleo also loves operas, I learned tonight. After dinner we stayed up talking until now, basically. I am the only one left in the living room around 1 am, the rest having just gone to bed. I will follow them shortly- today was a long day and I’m exhausted. I have to get up early tomorrow to make everyone breakfast (oatmeal, every day, as decreed by Professor Calleo).

We also went shopping for the first time today to get food for the next three days. It’s overwhelming, a bit, because all the products are marketed in Italian (obviously) so I can’t understand them right away. For example, the bread here is awful and I want to make my own olive rosemary bread sometime. So I went to go find yeast and spent half an hour struggling to figure out a) if the store had any, and b) whether the yeast they had was self-rising, dry, fast action, etc. The stores also have super narrow aisles and wide shopping carts that people leave everywhere.

I have to get in the habit of putting sunscreen every morning because when I go to the beach I want to get in the water immediately and not wait for sunscreen to sink in properly. I haven’t been burned yet, but I don’t want to be in the future. Today we went to a beach called Sottobomba. It was white sand and pebbles and rocks. There were also two little brown jellyfish that I poked before getting out of the water and waiting until they went away. I sat on the shore where the waves broke around me on a nice flat rock and read my book, and it was lovely.

I hope tomorrow I have the pleasure to make people happy like I did today. The summer will be quite amazing if every day is like this one. I know each day can’t be the same, nor (probably) as wonderful as this one was, but I will strive towards making each one good in its own way.


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