May 19, 2014

ROME (PART I): Lost in Translation

Dearest Marley,

There once was a little place called Rome, Italy, where Liz ate all the croissants ever and always and everywhere. 

Actually, they’re called cornetti in Italian. But to pay tribute to the countless Italians who gave their lives to make the distinction, a cornetto is essentially a sugar-glazed croissant. My beef is that 'cornetto' does not sound like other vague ‘croissant’ variations I've heard for pastries in otherlands and so I was genuinely thrown the first day I kept ordering them...

EG: “CIAO!! Un croissant, per favore!”

Café employee: “Si, cornetto.”

EG: “5 euro??”

Café employee: “..volete 5 cornetto... So you can eat.”

EG: “OHHHH yes that’s true, I do eat a lot. I guess I’ll take two, per favore.”

Café employee: “..two cornetti…”


Café employee: “è necessario acquistare un dizionario/ You need to buy a dictionary.”

EG: “Grazie! I like your accent, too!”

*Note: this cornetto looks a lot like a french croissant. But don't tell the Italians.

So as you may have expected, things have gone very smoothly during my first 9 days in Roma. Full disclosure, I have had an espresso and cornetto for breakfast every day so far. Followed by a second of each on Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday it was 3.

Speaking of pissing off Italians, I asked the grocery store worker if they had ‘buono red wine’… (okay I was definitely setting myself up for a throw down).. and she simply continued walking. Sorry, I haven't even graduated to beer exploration yet.

I’ve made it a priority to first learn the necessary words for buying food here. A small achievement would be to walk up to the baker across from my apartment, with all the confidence of a seasoned Roman, and order a cornetto et caffé espresso, una tazzina without the bewildered grimace of someone who just witnessed a cat expelling a hairball.

By the time my Roman holiday ends, I hope to place a detailed order for bread at my local market, Mercato di Via del Quadraro, which I discovered this weekend.

Lots of yelling to express your very positive emotions

Piles. Just.. piles.

A lot of grabbing and hand gestures in general

But here I am, fresh off the boat (err- sleeper van), already talking about the end of the summer. Let me tell you why I’m here.

My internship at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is my freakin’ dream come true. For so many reasons. The most important being their motto, fiat panis, which actually means ‘bread’ or ‘let there be bread’… Which. Is. AWESOME. I have the privilege to work with a talented, dedicated team who are designing and implementing an experience-based food insecurity scale that will record individual’s actual experience of hunger, representing 98% of the adult population in +150 countries.

Cheesin' it up after my morning cornetto (note crumbs on collar)

I get to bear witness to snapshots of family meals around the globe; the food access and availability of nomads, farm workers, urban dwellers, students, babies, homeless, mothers, elders. I get to see a lot of data. I get to hear about bread. And other things.

So to round out my first entry to you, dear friend- I perceive eating bread as an act that transcends language and age and pinterest and religion. I think it’s like the story someone in your family told you about sitting too close to the tv screen but you do it anyways. I think it’s like tasting something for the first time, every time you taste it. Even at Subway. Just kidding. Subway is shit (sorry, Benjamin, my love).

Tune in next time, when I’m adequately beer-infused and have returned from… NAPLES. (fade out) 

Yes, that's buffalo mozz. No, it doesn't exist in this immortal state outside of Rome. Sryz.


  1. Hairball line... good one, Liz! Glad you're having enjoying every moment!

    1. Thank you Susan! I hope that you and Joe will particularly like my next entry, which will highlight the brews :D


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