Tuesday, August 27, 2013

parte di il tuo mondo

The only thing that made me spend an evening of my life in Epcot was the world showcase. Last time I went was over ten years ago and as a five-year-old, it had made a magical impression on me. =)

Anyway, I skipped through Norway, trekked through Deutschland, and dived straight into Morocco. One place that hit an unexpectly tender spot was Italy. Go figure.

I walked through the shops and practiced my Italian with another College Program student from Rome. We had a deep and meaningful conversation about where he was from, how North American´s don´t speak Italian, and how I go to school in Lugano (because remember, my command of Italian is limited to the present and future tenses).

Even though I´ve been dying for a latte macchiato or a Melange since January, I flew past the coffee kiosks and went for the gelato instead. I was giggling at the thought of having "una coppetta" of seasonal gelato, like fig or pistacchio.

The kid serving gelato and I had a very special bond, he is from Bologna and I lived in Ticino. That makes us, get this,  "northerners".  He chuckled, I smiled, more magic (kidding).  After discovering they only had chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, I refused any gelato at all. He supported my decision and told me there will never be any such seasonal gelato in the United States, ever. Thank you Paolo, for setting the facts straight. We parted, and it went something like this:

Him:  "Ciao"

Me: "Ciao"

Him: "Ciao, beeeeella." insert animal-like growl

Me: smile-over-shoulder-because-I´ve-done-this-before

I found my new hangout spot.

Never Have I Ever...

1. ...watched the film Grease twice in two days, until now. My six roommates must have brought every DVD they own from their respective homes. How do I know this? Well, just look inside the two crates they keep next to the tv; they´re filled with every chickflick and Disney classic since Mary Poppins. I thought indulging my musical senses like this was unreasonable and excessive, until I watched Beauty and the Beast twice in three days.

I can justify this
2. ...thought that seven females could live together, and function.

3. ...seen so much Disney appareal (and Mickey Mouse ears) in Walmart. Yes, you´ll always find that one section of Disney regalia, but not rows and rows of Mike Wazowski t-shirts and Goofy hats with ears.

4.  ...had a flatmate that shares my love for salsa and bachata. The first morning we were together I, and the rest of the house, could hear her blasting Romeo Santos from her iPod in the bathroom. It was a beautiful moment.

Below is a freshly-filmed video straight from Lugano, Svizzera. If you were ever wanted to know more about my darling little Swiss school, this is it:


Monday, August 19, 2013

Up, Up, and Away

I´m a little brain dead after my five hour red-eye flight from Las Vegas to Orlando. Not only were we taxiing for all eternity, I was also the lucky gal to be seated in front of a child, screaming his lungs out, in Portuguese.

Other than that, I don´t think I´ve had so much fun on a flight. I use the term¨"fun" loosely, though. Speeding off a tarmac with a full view of everything from MGM to Mandalay is quite a view(for a city-scape anyway). It gets even better when you´re hovering around the tip of the Eiffel Tower. =)

Being above the lights and below the stars is always the best part of the trip. It´ s the point when you try to prepare for whatever you may run into. Whether you´re traveling for work, leisure, solo, or in an obnoxiously large tour bus, you have expectations. But not knowing anything about your destination and shedding any preestablished stereotypes before your arrival can end up being incredibly rewarding. You get to dive into a place that probably won´t share your  views on life, that´ll challenge your religious affiliation, that´ll test your ability to communicate without a common spoken language. It´s challenging, but maybe that´s why people are traveling now more than ever.  Forget about advancements in technology and globalisation and such; travelers do what they do to be challenged. It takes a certain type of person to accept constant criticism and to be confortable in completely unfamiliar environments.

 Then your little daydream of hearts and flowers bursts when you get off the plane and in sets jetlag.

And then you have to run to catch the last train of the night and because it´s Sunday (or some sacriligious event) everything is closed so you can´t eat until Wednesday. Good luck. You get out of the train station to see gypsies and some southeast asian man is yelling at you in his languge for directions. blah, blah, blah. Some series of unfortunate events will inevitably occur. So many love to think about the "romantic" sides of traveling but rarely do they think about the less-publicized sides of travel. The people who can come out of a travel-fiasco without being scarred for life are the ones who get the most from the experience. People who shake off the teachings of their cultures and go to the unknown are real travelers, the one´s who go around looking for something to sink their teeth into (North Americans all too often exempt countries like Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria from their European travel plans because it doesn´t have some place as beaten into as Las Vegas, Barcelona, Paris, etc.). (I major in hospitality management. I should really try to be less sinical about touristy cities...).

Anyway, I´m offically a Disney Cast Member. I´ll be working Food and Beverage at All Star Music. I just train this week. Work starts next Monday. Time to make some magic.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

hotel life

North Americans like to talk. No doubt about it. We´re the only ones in the western hemisphere who can ramble on to strangers about "how we are" at the grocery store and instantly become besties sparked from a question about how late the pool will be open at a hotel. I was recently a victim of this type of friendly.

I moved out of my apartment because my lease ended, but my courses continue. So instead of driving 40 miles a day, I found a summer special at a nearby hotel. It´s bumpin. For being off the strip.

Enthralled at the sight of a possibly free private cabana, I walked right up to the security guard and I promise, all I did was ask how late the pool was open til. Somehow though, SOMEHOW, we ended up in a discussion about his antique newspapers dating back to 1830 and his salary. It got personal. I wondered if this guy worked too many lonely nightshifts...

We had a few other riveting encounters throughout the week. Once while I was jamming to my Icelandic band in my private cabana and the other at the entrance of my room.


He either looked up which room I was in or followed me. Neither of those are particularly pleasant to think about. He came to my room to talk about his sister this time, I think. Or that could have been the time I was rushing to my room after carrying around my uniform for my culinary course like a pack mule, trying to eat my take-out dinner at 11pm. Oh, and he managed to show up with four water bottles and two cans of beer. I drank the water and left the beer. (Not kidding.)

I go back to Rumor Boutique Hotel for my last week of courses of the summer. Will I have to endure the perky smiles and upbeat cheeriness that every Las Vegas hotel  employee should exhibit? Probably. Can I hide away in a private cabana with an über convenient mini fridge and view of a neon sign-filled sky? Probably not.

That middle cabana should have been all mine...


No matter, though. I should be learning from them, following their example. After all, I am studying hospitality management in this fabulous, fabulous city.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What´s that Smell?

Three days of scrubing, dusting, vacuuming, and shuffling around luggage later, I´m finally out of my apartment complex...and into my parents house. What a joy. Just kidding, but at least I have a full kitchen. The past few days I have been successfully whipping up whatever I feel like. But it´s only successful when my dad doesn´t tell me "It´s too healthy". Mom will always like my meals, though...

My first attempt of the weekend was also my first attempt at making meat in years. (I was a vegetarian through high school until I went to Europe, go figure). Cooking it, meat from any animal, was never my specialty, but some how I found myself sifting through the meat section at my neighborhood Von´s. The chicken was about to expire and the beef (was it beef?) was, well, I´m still deciding. And just as I was about to run from the clutches of the pork sirloin that wanted to swallow me whole, I spotted a 1 lb package of meat that had an image of the Wyoming Rockies on the front. Turns out it was bison meat from Colorado. (Um, Colorado doesn´t have bison, so it must have been imported from Wyoming, obviously).

It was ready to expire and half off. I tossed it in the cart and froze it until I could find a recipe. Never do I remember seeing bison meat in the grocery stores in Wyoming. It might be more popular up north but I´m a "city girl" from Cheyenne. Bison meat has always been a delicacy in the area, saved for long-standing traditions, like Cheyenne Frontier Days (the longest running rodeo in the world. We´ve seen everybody from Wild Bill Hickok to Annie Oakely to Buffalo Bill. It´s our pride and joy).

Being a Wyoming-ite, I guess I should have made something more traditional, shame on me. I made Middle Eastern Bison Meatballs with Cilantro-Yogurt dip instead. Google it. It was fabulous.

My next endeavor was to use up all the cilantro and mint I had leftover. Add some lemon, cumin, red chile flakes, pine nuts/walnuts, and some extra virgin olive oil and you have yourself a meal fit for parents with exotic tastebuds.

Now I haven´t baked in years and after a certain age it never really interested me. Flour everywhere, mediocre cupcakes from a box, thunder thighs--who wants all that? I learned in Budapest that I´d prefer to sit at a café overlooking the Danube while I dine on strudel and café Melange. But the thought of trying something new (and having my parents around to test it on) inspired me to try this bit out:


Vegan Brownies.

No eggs, coconut milk instead of cows milk. Add just at a touch of cinnamon, serve with vanilla and a sprig of mint and voilà.

Tomorrow I´m planning on roasting some chicken and putting it over spinach with a homemade strawberry vinaigrette. And avocados, possibly one of the only foods I missed while in the Old World.

You know I still consider myself a vegetarian? I might want to rethink that.