Archive for the ‘Milan’ Category

This weekend I made it to the Earth Market I mentioned a few posts ago. We got there a bit on the late side (around 12:30 p.m. and it closes at 2 p.m.) so the pickings on some things were starting to get a bit slim, but we did get a chance to sample various products, such as artisanal beer, sorbet and gelato. There was a long line at one of the bread stands and by the time we made our way around the market and came back, all of the bread was sold out, which was a pity. Everything at the market is produced within 40 km of the city, and I liked how each of the stands had a sign listing the origin and distance from the city. But I do have to say that not everything that is organic, artisanal or “slow” is necessarily more delicious. As my husband commented upon tasting one “all-natural” product sample, “Maybe I prefer the one with chemicals that is bad for you.” Because the market was winding down by the time we got there, we ended up eating lunch in a nearby Egyptian pizzeria (yes, Egyptians are famous in Milan for their pizza-making skills) where I had the worst bowl of pasta I’ve ever had in ten years of living in Italy. I guess I should have ordered pizza, but usually I prefer pizza that’s been made in Naples (or within 40 km)…

In the park where the market was held, there were two different areas with stands. This was the first of them.

Stands with Art Nouveau building in the background

There were also picnic tables where you could sit and eat your purchases or listen to various Slow Food lectures

I found this advertisement for McDonald's at the entrance to the park where the Slow Food market was held to be a bit odd


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How are y’all enjoying this wacky summer weather? Is it wacky where you are? Here it is chilly and rainy – shades of November – and has been like this much of the last week. One thing that pulled me out of my weather funk was an email I received from a Canadian friend from Vancouver. She spent the better part of a decade in Milan and returned to Canada a year ago. She said she is still having moments of “reverse culture shock” and has been unable to adjust to the lack of chaos and the general sense of order in Vancouver. Here are a couple of shots she took to show me what she means.

This is a shot from Vancouver of a line forming for the bus. A bus that is not even there yet. Notice that even the funky hipster with requisite messenger bag (second to last in line) is not rebelling

Another shot from Vancouver. The line on the right is not quite as orderly as the one on the left, but keep in mind the bus isn't even there...

And here is our "study in contrasts" shot. This is what the line (if you can call it that) in front of me looked like at the post office on Friday here in Milan.

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A few months ago, I bought some organic milk at the supermarket and only noticed when I got home that it had the tag line “milked right in your neighborhood!” I had to laugh out loud. It was a laughter filled with irony and sadness because at that time there had been a huge oil spill in the river that runs through my town. I know cows don’t swim in the river. It wasn’t the same as buying trout and hearing that it had been caught “right in your neighborhood!” But still the idea of a cow grazing on the banks of a polluted river on the sprawling outskirts of the city was both sad and absurd.

I really like the idea of being a “locavore” or of living all “kilometer zero,” but can you really do that when you live in a city that is, uh, more than a tad polluted? I really don’t know the answer to that question, but I will continue to ponder it. Thanks to Judy’s blog, I read about the big Earth Market in Bologna sponsored by the Slow Food movement. I did some research and found out that, wow, we have one here in Milan as well. I’m going to go to the next one, which is on Saturday, June 19. Apparently, all of the farmers and vendors are local, and you can taste their products and even have lunch in the park where the market is held. It sounds great. You can get more info here.

Below is a video I found with some images of the Earth Market in Milan.

Then I just found out about the first ever Milano Food Week being held this week. There are tons of cool food and wine events going on, and tonight there’s going to be an “American street food tasting” in some old warehouse turned food lab while a graffiti artist does his thing with the spray cans. Could be a weird pairing (like drinking a cappuccino after – or God forbid, with – your pizza) or could be kind of cool! All of the events end this Sunday, and I wish I had found out about it sooner or I definitely would have made a point of tasting Barbera wines on a tram or taking a gastronomic tour of the city’s various ethnic neighborhoods. But, for all my talk of eating well, I’ll probably be stuffing my face with pizza and potato chips and drinking beer this weekend as I watch a few of the World Cup games.

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Milan's funky Navigli neighborhood at night. Photo by Matteo Carrasale, taken from the great article in La Cucina Italiana on Milan's aperitivo scene (click on photo to be taken to article)

Translating a guide book serves as a pretty good yardstick for measuring how well you know your town. I’ve been working on translating a guide to Milan for the last couple of weeks, and it makes me realize not so much that I don’t know my fair city (of the recommended activities, I’d done them all except for visit one out-of-the-way gelateria – OK, and I haven’t technically done a “walking tour of Art Nouveau architecture” but I have passed by and admired the buildings referred to in the guide), but that since I had a child, I just don’t get out enough.

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I had a rare bambino-free Saturday night. The pressure was on to come up with something amazing to do. It felt like this was our ONE BIG CHANCE to have a social life. I looked through restaurant reviews and show listings and nothing really caught my eye. In the end, I told my husband that we should just go out for a nice aperitivo (Milan is famous for its aperitivo, which is like a happy hour but with large buffets of food that end up being a free dinner – read more about it in La Cucina Italiana magazine), which is something we haven’t done in a very long time. His response? “I think we are too old for aperitivo…”

It is true that aperitivo is also popular with a younger crowd, but I wasn’t planning on going to a place frequented by the hair-gelled 19-year-olds who throw back the Negronis while still seated on their scooters outside the bar. I was sure there had to be a place for us. Then in translating this guide, I came across a different kind of aperitivo. The Terme Milano (a spa and wellness center created inside some of the city’s old Spanish walls) near Porta Romana offers sparkling wine and a light buffet to those who enter the thermal baths after 5:30 p.m. As it says at the end of the video below “You bring the bathing suit. We will take care of the rest.” In fact, the price of admission (35 Euros after 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday) includes towels, robes, flip-flops and courtesy kit full of bath products. We haven’t tried it out, but since “taking the waters” is popular with the age-spot set (though in this era of plastic surgery and high-tech dermatological treatments, does anyone even get age spots anymore?), I don’t think there is any fear of being the oldest people poolside with our complimentary spumante.

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