Officially we started school last week, but with the new holiday and administrative time and orientation, we really didn’t start until this week. The week started in a way that it really did feel like I was back in school. We had 12 hours of class time in Nutrition Science this week with several outside papers to read. Plus we had an introduction to Slow Food by Carlo Petrini, a meeting with the didactic coordinators of our program and 6 hours of class time on the Molecular Basis of Taste. It made for a full week of just class time but, as I mentioned before, we also had a paper and exam to fill in the spaces. The paper was a group project. We divided ourselves into 5 groups and chose from on Nutrition and either Communication, Culture, Economics, Policy, or Sustainability. We had two days to finish that assignment. It was a challenge forming a group with people we barely knew to write a paper. Add to this that we didn’t really have a good feel for how the library worked and not everyone’s internet was hooked up and working properly and it made things particularly stressful. Retrospectively it was probably good to begin that that way as we were thrown into our new academic world and had to “get going.” I had a great team to work with and we accomplished our task, I think, in an admirable fashion. It is just that there was quite of bit of pressure involved. Getting the paper done and presented was added on to finishing the uncovered topics in Nutrition and the exam that day so it was busy.
I have enjoyed the classes so far. The nutrition course contained some review for me, but considering that it has been about 30+ years since I originally learned it, review was definitely in order. Our instructor, from Mexico City, was a very bright and did an amazing job of cramming all of basic nutrition into just 4 days. The class on Molecular Basis of Taste started this week and will continue on into next week. It has been a very interesting class with a lot of “pearls.” One thing I found interesting is that those people that are expert wine tasters and who are good at describing and identifying wines do not have any better taste buds nor more taste buds, they just have better memory of the olfactory and taste sensations and can draw on those memories to identify and classify tastes.
After the test and presentations on Thursday I experienced great relief. Friday was a very light day. We had presentations in the morning from the two student organizations and we had the afternoon off. Friday morning I was on my way to the bus stop when I ran into classmates who were walking from Bra to Pollenzo to school (about 5 kilometers) and asked if I wanted to join them. I did, as we had plenty of time to make that walk. We first went to a market that exists on Wednesdays and Fridays across from the bus stop. Specifically, we went to a place that sold kebabs. This had been discovered by my classmates earlier in the week. They applied a small, but sufficient amount of peer pressure for me to order one for myself and so I began the day with a delicious breakfast of pork kebab and its attendant pork fat. Delicious! The best part was that the guilt was mediated by the 5 kilometer walk.
When I got home, June wanted to walk so we set out to walk to Pollenzo. I forgot where we turned off to take the back road there, so we decided to walk to Chersco instead which is about 5 kilometers from Bra. We learned fairly quickly that the roads around here, for the most part, are not walker friendly. They have very little shoulder and a lot of traffic that includes big trucks. We braved about 4 kilometers to get to the town but as we approached the town there was a narrow bridge with virtually no place to walk. We discovered this because I tried to walk across, got a few yards along the way and a huge truck had to stop until I could back track and get out of its way. We changed course and walked instead 4 kilometers to Pollenzo along busy highway but with a modicum of a shoulder. We reached Pollenzo after the 4:00 bus left and were waiting for the 5:45 bus in the cafe/bar with a beer and some chips when we met one of my classmates who was walking back to Bra. Since she knew the way we joined her in walking back to Bra. It was a day full of exercise.
That evening we decided to treat ourselves and dine out. We decided to go to Osteria La Bocca Buona just down the block from our apartment. We waited until later to go there as we knew they ate later in Italy, but when we arrived at 7:30 we were not only the first ones there, they were still setting up tables. They welcomed us warmly and we had a delightful meal and a great wine. We were able to watch the “stragglers” as they arrived for dinner, which included a group of my classmates. One of them, Molly, is from Hibbing and she took the picture of our school at the top of this posting and this one of us with our after dessert coffee.
Saturday we went back to Torino to explore that city more. We found the flea market that we missed last time. It is about 4 blocks of stuff. There is just about everything you can imagine.
We spent far too much time browsing that overstimulating environment and ending up not having enough time to go to the Chocolate Festival, much to June’s chagrin. (Actually, I don’t mind a little chocolate now and again <grin>.) It lasts a while longer so we are going to see if we can still make it. I took a better camera to Torino and will provide this link ( http://gallery.me.com/doughiza/100121 ) for those who want to see some more photos. The vegetable shots will be familiar but were taken with a better camera and by Jenny, a classmate from Sweden who was with us. The other woman in some of the photos is Saskia from Amsterdam.
Next week looks lighter. We will see.