Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The great cheddar hunt

Yeah, I like cheddar. You got a problem with that? Since I got back from US, I've been jonesing for cheddar. Don't get me wrong, there are loads of Italian cheeses I adore but sometimes I want me some cheddar. And so began the great cheddar hunt. This weekend I spied a few neighborhood eateries that used cheddar in their dishes, after inquiring they reluctantly yet kindly offered to sell me a chunk of their orange goodness but I still wanted to find a place where I could buy my own whenever I felt the urge.
At the suggestion of a friend, I checked out the deli of all delis- FRANCHI (they do catering too, their website focuses mainly on that). I'd been there a million times but never thought to look for cheddar--- and guess what? They actually had it: sage flavored cheddar (it's green, kind of creeps me out), whiskey cheddar, and good ol' regular orange cheddar all imported from the UK. Joy! Happiness! Cheesy smile! I have found my cheddar dealer!
Via Cola di Rienzo, 200 (Prati)

2016 update: just discovered another shop that sells both British and American cheddar!
La Tradizione
Via Cipro, 8/e

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chain Reaction

Yesterday morning Mario Rossi (the Italian equivalent of John Doe) wakes up late and has to rush to get to work on time. He works in the center of Rome and drives to work. He frantically looks for a parking space but can't to seem to find any--- WAIT! What's that? A spot on the crosswalk on the street corner. It may be an illegal spot, but Mario Rossi is late so he doesn't care. Shortly after, a bus is driving along its route and needs to turn onto the same street Mario Rossi parked on but lo and behold, the bus can't make the turn because (wait for it).... Mario Rossi's car is in the way! So the bus gets stuck, passengers on the bus can't get to their stops hence they end up late for work, traffic starts piling up behind the bus making even more people late, and the whole neighborhood is in chaos. And all this happened why? Because Mario Rossi, being the typical Italian he is, doesn't bother to think ahead, doesn't try to see the big picture, instead he only cares about his own immediate needs and has no concern for his city or fellow city-dwellers. My advice to Mario Rossi, wake up earlier and take the bus, jackass!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Meravigliosa: that's what the dental hygienist said about my mouth this morning! 

While Stefania oohed and ahhed about how easy my teeth were to clean and how little plaque there was, we had an in-depth discussion about cultural differences in oral hygiene. Stefania insists her foreign clients (several Americans and one Australian) all have amazingly healthy and clean teeth, as opposed to her regular Italian clients who tend to have crooked, dirty, plaque-encrusted teeth (her words, not mine!). 
We tried to figure out why this is: Did I wear braces? Nope. Was I given fluoride tablets as a child? I wasn't but I believe the water in most US cities contains fluoride, or at least that was the case back in my days. I do recall that in elementary school, with the help of a giant set of choppers, we were taught how to properly brush and care for our teeth. Apparently, this does not happen in Italian schools (why am I not surprised?). I also told her most kids go to the dentist at least once a year. She claims most Italians don't have the best oral hygiene: they don't floss much, they brush sloppily, and to top it all off they don't go to the dentist yearly (making her job even more laborious)... and what's worse is Italian parents don't take their kids to the dentist until they're about 8-9 years old, whereas one of her American clients brought her kids in at age 4. So Italian kids are raised with a different perception of oral hygiene hence bad teeth all throughout life.

She's not the first Italian dental hygienist to compliment me on my teeth (mind you, this never happened to me in the US), once an Italian dental hygienist actually sent me home! I sat down in the chair, opened my mouth, she looked in and said "There's nothing to clean, go home and come back next year". I guess she was so used to seeing layers of grime that she considered my yearly build-up unworthy of her pick. Needless to say, I found myself a new dentist because I WANT to have my teeth cleaned yearly even if there's not much to clean. I'd rather get rid of the little plaque I have before it builds up, thank you very much. And my hygienist thanks me... maybe they should charge me less since it takes less time to clean my teeth?? :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Non amo AMA

When I got back to Rome this month, I'd received several pamphlets in the mail from AMA (waste management service) about their new door-to-door trash collection. Apparently, their main goal is to enforce proper recycling. And it's about time! Mind you, recycling bins do exist in Rome, but most people throw everything into one bin anyway. I myself have always fastidiously sorted my trash (you can take the girl out of America, but you can't take America out of the girl!), but most Romans are rather lax about it because 1) there have been numerous reports stating that the garbage men toss all the bins into the same truck anyway 2) Romans don't really seem to give a shit about their city's welfare.

Yesterday this was delivered to my door:

A year's worth of recycling bags (and a bin for organic waste). You have got to be fucking kidding me?! Where am I supposed to store all this? In this city, most people barely have enough room at home for their own belongings, let alone a year's worth of bags! My question is: seeing that AMA will be coming around to our building once a week to pick up our trash anyway, couldn't they just leave us weekly/monthly supplies? Whose idea was this? Seriously, it seems like every time they try to do something new & improved in this city, they screw it up by not thinking it through properly.
I may have to buy myself a bigger apartment in order to store all these bags...

Monday, March 16, 2009

New favorite pizza place

I know "favorite pizza places" is a very delicate topic but I recently discovered a place that kicks some serious butt! It's called La Pratolina. Their pizza is not as thin as typical Roman pizza but it is very light and doesn't sit in your stomach like a brick. They also have delicious homemade fritti that are rather creative (lots of veggie-friendly options too). AND they have the nicest, most efficient staff ever! Those of you who live in Rome know how hard it is to find decent service at restaurants, especially busy restaurants... so this place is a keeper. I highly suggest reserving because it's usually packed.
La Pratolina
Via degli Scipioni 248 (Prati)

Monday, March 9, 2009

I heart NaturaSì

I am back in the Città Eterna, which is eternally chaotic... but I won't let that distract me from today's topic: NaturaSì. It's a fantastic health food supermarket with lots of vegetarian/vegan/organic products that are reasonably priced. There are other stores in my neighborhood that sell the same kinds of goods like Canestro on Via San Francesco a Ripa and Innocenzi on Via Natale del Grande, but they're more expensive and have less of a selection, so it's worth the bus ride to Via Oderisi da Gubbio (more on my first bus ride in Rome in 3+ months in the next post) to stock up on rice milk, tofu, and whatnot. They are also unbelievably friendly and helpful- LOVE them!