Monday, February 28, 2011

Cultural Clashes: The Good and the Bad.

Warning. Long musing at the end. But it applies to YOU.

Hey lovers.

HOW did I forget?? Especially since it's about food?? (I have a problemo.)

Went to da Garibaldi's. DELISH. Not too expensive.

Got Tortellino di Zucca gailla caccio e burro. Or, pumpkin tortellini with butter and Parmesan cheese.

Okay, I paid €5,00 for 2 tortellino. BUT IT WAS SO WORTH IT. And it was more filling than you'd think. Or maybe that's because I had dinner beforehand so I wouldn't spend so much. It was GREAT though. I cannot wait to go home and try to make it.

We had our cooking lesson after the Uffizi tour. The Uffizi is the first museum (making it the oldest museum) in the world. It used to be an office building (weird, I know, to think of offices in those times) but it was turned into a museum for the public to be able to view the arts. We learned a LOT of really sweet stories about a lot of the pieces in there. It might be because we had a great tour guide who gave us a LOT of fun information about each art piece but I can honestly say this is my most favorite museum in the world. I think I wanna go back there to check things out in full depth.

Spinach ravioli!!

This is what mediocre tiramisu looks like.

Our guy, Silvio ("SILLLLLL-VIAAAA") who I swear hated us at first, then opened up at the end to tell us about this girl he ran away to Ohio to marry. Who he is now divorced from.

My chef man. Kept calling me Catherine (but pronounced it in the Italian way, which was Catherin-a kinda like my mom does). And poked fun at me for being terrible at Italian.


Anyways, cooking lesson. Fun! The recipes will be thrown up here soon, as will the ravioli verde. I fuqued up the first dough because I didn't have someone to help me feed it in at first since it was oddly shaped but Kat took over and fixed it. I def want a pasta machineeeee. I LOVE using that thing, it's so satisfying in a hands-on-studio kind of way.

We made spinach ravioli (I think we all ended up getting 18 pieces if I remember correctly... getting 3 servings hahah), an eggplant antipasta (DELISH because the cheese was so great) and tiramisu (doesn't match up to the one I made haha and def wasn't as pretty). It was missing the Bailey's because the coffee had no sweetness to it.

I LOVE making desserts. I'm alright with cooking- I love cooking for myself but that's really just because I know I'll love anything I eat since I LOVE food. But desserts, I think that's my specialty considering my past inner-grandma who has provided and endless number of desserts for the greater Towson and Baltimore areas hahaha.

Cannot wait to go back and apply for bakery positions.

So back to the last chef. He was the owner. The Indian-ish "bus-boy" kept staring me down which really annoyed me, then he asked me where I was from. I hesitated in telling him Vietnamese. I should have just said American like I did at the clubs before. I know people don't mean anything by it but I guess sometimes it irks me if I think they assumed beforehand I'm some poor-English speaking girl who is dumb and fobby.

In any event, when Chef Due (2) asked me, I told him. I think they had some fascination with me being Asian because well, honestly, I have not seen a single Asian in all of FUA. The only Asians I see are the tourists, and I've probably only spotted a tiny tiny handful that may actually live here.

This is a very interesting concept to me. Back in the States, yes it's true I'm not surrounded by Asians- I only have 3 Asian friends, and two of them have no cliché Asian qualities. But I do see them around and 75% of them are "Americanized." But here, you don't have any of that. They're either tourists, or- nonexistent. So it always makes me wonder how I'm perceived, considering how I perceive the other Asians here. I assume I'm correct in my assumptions because why would they have any belief otherwise?

Sometimes I like surprising people with my well-spoken English, lacking any accent or poor grammar. In fact, I love it. I know most people hear me speak (expecting poor English), and for a moment they think "oh she's not fobby," and brush it off and forget it. I like this because they don't question why I don't have poor English. But I also like it when it makes them think further and think "so not every Asian has to have shitty English." Sometimes I can tell them thinking, "Why doesn't she have shitty English? I guess she was raised in the States."

I get "where are you from?" a lot and of course I won't be snotty with "America," but I'll answer "Vietnam." But once they ask me "were you born in the States?" or "are you the first generation in the States?" I know that before I answered them, they were wondering why my English was correct.

Again, I'm not offended. I like answering this most of the time because this is my chance to show them that clichés are just that- just clichés. Chef Due asked me if I was the first or the second generation in my family to live in the States. I answered, I was the first, considering I was the first generation born there. (My parents escaped their country at the young age of 18-20ish.)

It's not to say that I think everyone around me is judging me or making premature assumptions about my English, my upbringing, and my "fobbiness." Not at all. I know that there aren't nearly as many people thinking it as I think. It just feels like it because I'm always either the token or one of the few Asians in any setting. But I do know they exist because I've experienced it. They, being people who do assume I wasn't raised here and so on. It's usually not at school but at work and just being around, especially older generations because of their experience. Which is why I'm not really offended.

It never really occurred to me that being in the Italian culture where Asians are seemingly irrelevant (because of the primarily Caucasian cultures here) would make me wonder all of this.

As any other female has been here, I've been cat called every day, and I'll ignore it as I do at home. It's times like those that I play the non-English-speaking-Asian card. But once in awhile, I'll get a remark like "Arigato" or "Konichiwa" in which I'll wish to god that I knew Italian to blow them away. All I have in my arsenal is English and a bare amount of French (unfortunately). THAT'S what annoys me, is when every Asian is lumped together. At the same time, I can't be too offended because yes, it can be difficult to tell the difference between Asians if you haven't been immersed in the culture enough, as it can be difficult to tell the difference between different Caucasian ethnicities.

One day as I was passing through a small group of Italian boys at the young ages of maybe between 9 to 13, I was shocked when they all started calling to me "arigato" in a taunting manner, following me a few meters down the street.

I don't really know what to say about that. They're just kids, so I can't be mad or anything. But that's the kind of thing that annoys me.

Honestly, many of the Italians I've passed are not kind. Friendly eye contact and smiles are completely nonexistent. I'll walk down the streets of Baltimore County or Towson, get smiles all the time, and I'll return them. Some of them are very unfriendly to those who cannot speak Italian.

Yes, I know we could be more open to learning other languages but what if you haven't been exposed at all? I'm trying my goddamned hardest after being so resistant for a couple of weeks, but it doesn't make a difference.

Returning to the subject, I feel like it isn't just me who thinks that Americans are welcoming. Most of us are- its just the racist ones deep in the city or in the old societies that are isolated who are not welcoming. I honestly do not know a single racist person but I do know they exist so I won't generalize it. That being said, nearly everyone in my areas are kind, open to, and even excited about meeting anyone from another country. Especially if they can't speak English. And we don't take advantage of them economically (in terms of buying and selling). I know for a fact that Americans are ripped off here pretty often.

But to redeem them, there are a number of Italians who HAVE been welcoming, and in fact love us. Most of that seems to come from my professors but we also get restaurants who love us. It's a relief to find these Italians who don't generalize all Americans based on their political views of us.

WOW. Bedtime. I've been writing this for a half hour.


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