I can’t even begin to count the ways that my life here is different than it is at home.
The language is different. The money is different. The people are different. They don’t have Target. Netflix and Hulu don’t work here. And so on and so forth…
Everyday tasks and errands have taken on a much larger role in my day to day life because every outing involves a lot more research/work/planning than anything does at home for many reasons– not the least of which being that I don’t have a car and my smartphone doesn’t have service here. In a lot of ways, it is terribly frustrating to not be able to Google every little thing I need to figure out while I’m out and about. On the other hand, I am one of the few people at any given monument/attraction who doesn’t have an iPad or cell phone permanently perched at arm’s length so as to document every little detail–all the while missing out on so much of the experience. I am appreciative that I spend my wandering time mostly un-distracted, especially in Venice where I am pretty familiar with general directions. I don’t have to spend my time staring at a map or a guidebook anymore. I get to read all the signs and just enjoy the scenery. I know which vaporetto ticket machines will take a credit card or not. I know which ATM’s are trying to trick and scam tourists. I get to people-watch and read the menus of every little cafe that I pass by. The majority of my time and life is not how it appears on Facebook or other social media sites. Real life is raw, and not always photogenic or worthy of pinning or tweeting and whatnot (which is why this post does not contain photos). I think it is important to remember the fun and easy experiences (Facebook-worthy, etc.) along with the days that are filled with tears and loneliness. It’s what makes an experience meaningful.
“It seems to me that the quality of a moment in time is not always a reflection of the moment in and of itself- what happens before and what happens after are often what give it its savor.” -Michael J. Fox
When so many things are so very different, you tend to seek comfort in what is familiar. For me, that has been trying to cook and bake a few of our favorite foods from home in between our rather strictly Italian menus. Banana Bread, in my opinion, is the ultimate remedy for a day where you feel like you are out of place, and nothing really feels like home. Crepes do a stand up job at consoling one’s frustrations after having been yelled at in Italian for the umpteenth time by the very unpleasant landladies. Cinnamon-Swirl Bread makes for a quick breakfast on-the-go when you have to try and make it to the the market and back before the rain starts. Roast Beef with Red Wine Sauce is the perfect way to fill up before a Sunday evening stroll in Venice.
At home, we have so much stuff. We’ve got anything and everything we could possibly need and more. In fact, right before we left for Italy we had a massive yard sale, and we still probably have way more than we need. Here, we have just the things we thought were most important and that would fit into our 3 checked bags. Aside from the necessities: Hubby brought some fishing gear and a set of new kitchen knives for us, I brought what I thought would be the kitchen utensils that I couldn’t live without, as well as 2 cookbooks, my camera, my slippers, our pillows, and the entire series of Seinfeld on DVD. My Le Creuset Dutch Oven is my go-to kitchen item. It’s my soup pot, roasting pan, crock pot, cake pan, skillet, saute pan, you name it. We’ve been through a lot together. Even though our apartment is “furnished”, it is desperately lacking in some essentials, and I am glad I planned for a bit of that. My favorite spatulas (yes, it’s possible to have favorite spatulas…don’t judge) help me not to scratch and destroy the enamel on my lovely Le Creuset, and keep the counter clean at the same time. My red-handled whisk that Hubby bought me a couple of years ago because he read good reviews about them online and they’re made in the USA, which also doubles as a stand-in for my Kitchen-Aid mixer who had to stay home. And last but not least, my beloved bread pan in all of her American-made, nothing-sticks-to-it, bakes-like-a-champ glory. While at home, these all just seem like things, but here, they’re what make this foreign apartment feel and smell and taste a little bit more familiar.
While I love all the new ingredients and foods we’ve been trying and adding new favorites to our arsenal, there’s something fun about trying to make something that you’ve made a million times before but this time you’ve got to figure it out with strange ingredients, measurements, and substitutions. It never tastes quite as good as at home, but it’s close enough for now.