Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Update from Italy

One of our members is in Italy attending the University of Gastronomy. The update below is very inspiring.

On my first day at L'Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche , I listened to Carlo Petrini speak in Italian about how our year in Italy would be transformational. Our pursuit of gastronomy would challenge us to adopt a holistic view and study in ways unfamiliar to us. In reflecting on the past two months, I can now appreciate more of what Carlo was communicating. After two study trips and a taste of the multidisciplinary curriculum, I understand that food can never follow a predictable pattern of life. Food, in its universal and multicultural nature, will always need to be examined through a unique lens that is customized to each new encounter. An ancient, underground olive oil mill in Puglia and a goat farm high in the mountains of Piedmont are two diverse expressions of food.

While they deviate in their nature of production, they are unified in their portrayal of food as a journey. Through this journey, history, science, society, and culture, among many other disciplines, are sculpted by the continual development and evolution of food.

In the same sense, I feel that I have all ready been shaped by the food and associated ways of life to which I have been exposed thus far. Classes have ranged from Wine Sensory Analysis and Organic Farming in the science realm to Food & Media and Food Sovereignty in the social sciences field. To complement this coursework, we have participated in two week long study trips in the regions of Puglia and Piedmont. The interactions and discussions with producers have been invaluable. We have spent time on the farms and in the factories of cheese artisans, winemakers, cured meat producers, and chocolatiers.

As summer vacation has now descended upon the university, there are even more opportunities for independent learning surrounding food. My next adventure will take me to the farm of Agricola Biologica Nico in Tuscany where I will be working for two weeks in August. When I return, I will be in the midst of preparing an article on the school gardens in the area of Bra where I live. Research will include visits to gardens at both the university and the local elementary school. In addition, I will be discovering more about Slow Food International’s initiative to establish 1,000 school gardens in Africa by 2011.

As the seasons change, new classes commence, and study trips ensue, I am more than eager to see where food will take me next.

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