Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Buon Anno!

Buon anno cari amici e lettori di Ciambellina! Mi auguro che l'anno nuovo porterà un po' di serenità al mondo. Divertitevi stasera ovunque siate!

Happy New Year to all the faithful readers of Ciambellina and even to some of you who are not so faithful (I'm talking to you Babbo!). I hope the new year will bring a little calmness to our crazy planet. Have fun wherever you guys may be!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Buon Natale!

Sono appena tornata dalla festa di nozze del mio cugino, Tim, nel Texas, e sto per partire di nuovo, questa volta andando su per passare le feste con la mia famiglia, sparsa tra New Jersey, New York e Massachusetts.

Oggi devo finire di impacchettare i regali e disfare e rifare le valigie, però prima di partire, vi voglio fare gli auguri di buon natale e buon anno!

Cari lettori di Ciambellina, vi ringrazio di cuore per aver visitato il blog quest'anno e spero che continueremo nell'anno nuovo di condividere la nostra passione per l'Italia e tutto quello che ci offre di bello!

Buone feste!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I opened the panettone.

I wasn't going to. I bought it last week at the Whole Foods store on Ponce with the idea of bringing it somewhere as a special treat.

But then I thought, well, I would like a special treat. Right here, right now.

So I opened it, and still mulling over a long-awaited email I had received from a British friend this morning, I had a flashback to, of course, what do you expect? the days when I lived in Florence and I would buy a panettone to bring for Christmas dinner.

(Please understand, I lived in Florence just after college and I think those early years of adulthood, no matter where you spend them, remain disproportionately impressed upon the brain, perhaps because it's then that we launch our own independent lives, with their own rhythms and routines, separate from Mommy and Daddy).

Specifically, I remembered going to order a specially-made panettone from a bakery on Borgo San Iacopo to bring to my British friend's family in Luxembourg.

They had invited me to spend Christmas with them that first year that I lived in Florence, and as I counted down the days until I boarded the overnight train from Santa Maria Novella station, I made the rounds of neighborhood stores to pick up treats and gifts.

I remember walking over to the bakery along the narrow, cobblestone street on the other side of the Arno from the Duomo, and pausing a moment in front of the glass storefront.

You know the type, either from movies or real-life.

It had a large front window through which you could see a display case full of Christmas delicacies and everyday pastries, and perhaps the baker had stuck his head out of the kitchen for a moment to share a laugh with the girl behind the counter.

Condensation had formed on the window from the heat of the kitchen, and there was a clutch of older women, in their quilted jackets, identical grey, knee-length wool skirts, and sensible brown leather shoes, issuing specific instructions about the items they wanted.

It seemed so evocative of city or village life, the neighborhood bakery. Ever since, I've always wanted to live in neighborhoods that are anchored by a bakery, but alas it's not so easy in America.

And while I was cutting myself a piece of panettone this morning, I wondered why that chore had remained lodged deep inside my mind. Living in Italy, one would not find it unusual to buy a panettone.

But I think the idea of rushing around town, preparing for Christmas, crossing chores off your list -- it all constitutes such a fundamental activity that it almost seems like a scene out of Dickens.

Going to the neighborhood bakery and ordering a Christmas treat is as far as you can get from the suburban shopping mall or car traffic or the incessant intertwining of romance with the birth of Jesus (doesn't that seem a bit odd?).

And it was enough just to breathe in the scent of the panettone this morning to unearth this memory.

Ok, so, if you buy a panettone this Christmas, you may not remember the same thing, but they are seasonal treats. And Lord knows, nothing is more Italian than eating a particular dish at a specific time of year -- and then not again until next year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cleaning lady - Italian speaking preferred

Ho trovato questo annuncio per una donna di servizio sul sito Craig's List.

Chiaramente, non basta saper pulire la casa -- bisogna anche conoscere l'italiano. Bello!

Cleaning lady - Italian speaking preferred
(Manhattan/Brooklyn Heights)
Date: 2008-11-25, 11:40PM EST

We are looking for cleaning ladies for a small cleaning company. We do business mostly in Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights downtown.

Please send:
A description about your experience
Why you want to clean apartments
A picture if you have it
If you speak any other languages
When are you available to start and if you can work days/nights/weekends
***Must not have a criminal record***

Pay: $10/hr weekly (cash)
*We have incentives for bonuses*


The same guy posted an earlier ad -- with lower pay! Here it is:

Cleaning lady - Italian speaking preferred
(Manhattan/Brooklyn Heights)

Date: 2008-11-15, 10:38PM EST

We are looking for a reliable cleaning lady for a small company. Most of the jobs will be in Manhattan and some will be in Downtown Brooklyn Heights.

***We prefer Italian speaking, but not necessary***

Pay is $8-10 per hour cash
Start immediately

POI....ho trovato un'altro annuncio, inserito sempre su Craig's List, ma nel reparto Roma. L'unico problema: la persona che l'ha inserito non vive a Roma, dove c'è il Papa. Vive nella piccola cittadina Rome che si trova nello stato di Georgia, qui in USA. Troppo buffo, ragazzi!

House cleaning (rome,ga)

Rispondi a: [?]
Data: 2008-12-11, 5:53PM CET

if you want the house clean for Christmas, call me, very professional job, done in time, very detailed, great price,reference.

call at 706-(***-****)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Baraonda restaurant @ Atlanta

Sometimes you just crave a pizza.

I think that's how Francesco felt, even though he was about to return to Italy (He's the "Italian in Atlanta" I wrote about a few months back). I went out for a pizza with him, two other Italian colleagues and two Spanish colleagues a short while ago.

He chose Baraonda, which is in Midtown (a neighborhood in Atlanta) and has been in business since 2000. It offers your typical Italian pizza list -- Margherita, Capricciosa, Quattro Formaggi -- il solito.

I ordered something a little different without venturing too far from familiar territory --

pizza ortomisto (mixed fresh vegetables). The lighting was a bit dark, so I overcompensated with flash, resulting in the photo above (sigh). But I can tell you my pizza was good enough to savor at home in the form of leftovers.

The crust was especially good -- perfectly seasoned, chewy and substantial. And that's saying a lot because it's often the part of pizza that's the hardest to master in America (in part because of our water).

Il Nostro Inviato actually didn't like his as much as the rest of us (since he makes pizza a lot at home, I think he's a bit more discriminating). And I actually added olive oil and salt to mine, which I usually don't do.

But the three born-and-bred Italians who were with us ate every bite! Here's another look at their smiling faces:

Want to eat at Baraonda? Here's the info:

Baraonda Caffe Italiano
710 Peachtree Street (at 3rd St, Atlanta)
Phone: 404.879.9962

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Plea to save Advanced Placement Italian

As I've mentioned, I'm on a listserv for Italian teachers, and through it, I've watched an ongoing debate about the fate of Advanced Placement Italian, which they didn't have at my high school but I guess is now offered at some schools (though it's now on life-support because of a shortage of funds after only four years).

In one letter I received, an Italian teacher warned colleagues not to get caught up in the holiday rush if it means ignoring the thirty-year struggle to raise the profile of Italian studies, namely by maintaining the AP Italian program.

Here's an excerpt from the letter:

Carissimi Amici e Colleghi,

L’atmosfera festiva in cui già siamo immersi non ci deve assolutamente distrarre riguardo all’obbligo morale che abbiamo verso l’AP: una lotta che dura da più di trent’anni.

Se procediamo ciascuno per suo conto, non riusciremo mai a valorizzare l’italiano e a fare in modo che raggiunga gli stessi livelli di altre lingue, come la spagnola e la francese, che sono riuscite a mantenere per molti anni anche un AP in letteratura, mentre noi corriamo il rischio di veder svanire anche l’unico che possediamo, l’AP Language and Culture, e dopo soli quattro anni di vita.

Abbiamo perciò bisogno dell’impegno di ciascuno di voi, affinché gli studenti si iscrivano anno dopo anno all’esame di AP, in quanto solo l’incremento del numero degli studenti riuscirà a far diminuire i costi dovuti al College Board.


She does end on a positive note:

Buone feste!

Friday, December 05, 2008

We have gelato!

Atlanta has its very own gelateria! (Actually I think there's more than one, but I think this one has been in business the longest).

As you can see it's called Paolo's and it's located in Virginia-Highlands, which is a chic little neighborhood crammed with cutesy boutiques and some cool bars.

Il Nostro Inviato tried the gelato a few months back and gave it the thumbs up (Ciambellina is trying to maintain her girlish figure). It's run by an actual Italian, so that's always a good start.

And right next to Paolo's is this restaurant:

We ate at Figo once and to be honest, I found it a bit odd. First off, it's actually fast food. You order at a counter, then you sit down -- not something you do every at a trattoria.

What's more striking is you can mix and match sauce and pasta style. If you want spaghetti and ragu sauce, you can have it. Typically in Italia, the pasta dishes are somewhat set. Vongole (clams) go with spaghetti, while pappardelle is paired with wild boar sauce.

That's because the Italians believe the shape of the pasta is an important factor in properly unleashing the taste of the sauce.

And of course, then there's the name. But I'm not going there.

Anyway, at least there's some bit of Italy here!