Friday, February 22, 2008


I've always been a worrier and a planner, or what some would call a pessimist. I hate the negative connotation of the word pessimist. The OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY defines pessimism as:

" 1. lack of hope or confidence in the future. 2. Philosophy a belief that this world is as bad as it could be or that evil will ultimately prevail over good." ,

as opposed to the definition for optimism:

"1. hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something. 2. Philosophy the doctrine that this world is the best of all possible worlds."

Since I'm neither all doom and gloom, nor perkily hopeful, I prefer to think of myself as a "realist", someone who expects the best but plans for the worst. If I'm planning a vacation to Florida, I expect to spend my days on the beach, in the water, and doing everything and anything I can outdoors. So what happens if a hurricane pops up, or if there's an unexpected dip in the temperature? Someone like me will have a list of museums, movies or other indoor activities, just in case.

There are tons of books and articles written about how to have a positive attitude, and if you've been reading, I've been trying to focus on the positive aspects of moving back to the states once our house in Italy is sold. My newest line of thinking combines both positive AND negative attitudes. I've been thinking about things that I should take back to the states with me; things from Italy that I'll miss, the things that aren't so easy to find in the states, or things that are very expensive. I've been making a list, and so far it includes:

  • Porcini mushrooms

  • Olive Oil

  • Balsamic Vinegar

  • Wine

  • Parmesan Cheese

Now I'm wondering what else I should consider. Risotto? Specialty pasta? San Marzano tomatoes? If we're going to ship our goods back to the states, why not include some of these treats? Some people might include truffle oil, but that's never been a big deal for me.

I wish I could take back some porchetta, the delicious roasted pork, or some bistecca fiorentina, the melt-in-your-mouth, two inch thick steak that's a specialty of Florence. I'd also like to take some packets of pre-cubed pancetta.
I can brown up a packet of pancetta (either sweet or smoked), throw in some chopped garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a can of tomatoes to make a quick spaghetti dinner that's out of this world.

There will be many foods I'll miss once we're back in the states, but I'm trying to turn that negative into a positive by planning ahead. If you have a suggestion, feel free to post a comment!


At 2/23/2008 11:46:00 AM , Blogger L Michelle said...

When I moved from Rome to Louisville in 1998, I shipped a case of olive oil, a case of panna (I like this better than heavy cream for cream sauces), a case of my favorite canned tomatoes, Nutella, tubes of tomato paste and dozens of packages of my favorite pasta. I put parmesan and romano cheeses in my luggage on the trip home. All these comforts sure lessened the impact of my first year back and my friends really appreciated the meals I made with them. Except for the panna which I haven't found yet, most of these are now available here at speciality stores and even some supermarket chains. Good luck with your move.

At 2/23/2008 12:38:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Hey there Michelle! Sorry we've never been able to gtg when we're in Louisville. Maybe once we move back...

the panna isn't such a big deal for me, altho lots of people on the ST message board seem to love it too. I'l love to be able to ship back a small (whole) wheel of parmesan with our shipment, but I don't know if that's allowed or not. I know we can bring it with us if it's vacuum packed...

I know some of the specialty stores have some of this stuff, but of course Louisville's no hotbed of Italian products.

I'm torn about the Nutella....I'm sure it's a lot chepaer here, but in all honesty, the more I have the more I'll eat! Perhpas I should just buy it as a special treat once I'm back in the states.

Thanks for your advice!

At 2/23/2008 05:11:00 PM , Blogger L Michelle said...

Now that I'm retired (as of 8/3/07!), it will be much easier to gtg when you return. Although I'm busy in retirement, it's my busy and not my old work's busy which means I'm not exhausted all the time - ha-ha! I LOVE RETIREMENT!

Regarding cheese, here is the US Customs' site for some info in case you haven't looked there yet: It looks like the cheese is okay and I remember when I was there as long as it was vacuum sealed, it was perfectly okay. I know of others who shipped a wheel in their household goods but not sure what the rules are for that. Here's a FAQ site from the Rome Embassy about what can be brought into the US: It probably duplicates the first one but it may be clearer there.

Kroger, Meijers and ValuMarket carry Nutella now and are carrying more and more foreign products, including some of the crusted, thick bread like Italy (Meijers & Kroger more so than ValuMarket). Lotsa Pasta on Lexington Road also carries many Italian items. It's much easier now than when I moved here in 1998 to find real Italian products. You'll have to go to Gelato Gilberto ( in Norton Commons when you return for some great gelato. He and his wife spent a few years in Italy learning to make the gelato and it is really great! (Their oldest girl has an Italian accent since she was born there - it's so cute!) Still, nothing here is ever exactly like Italy; but then if it were, why would anyone go back?!

Ciao from Louisville! Ya'll come back now!

At 2/23/2008 05:48:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Congrats on your retirement! As for the cheese, my concern is how to find out if a whole, uncut wheel of parmesan....not vacuum okay to bring in.

I've been a customer of Lotsa Pasta for many, many years, but of course their stuff is a lot more expensive than it is here, hence the thought fo some pasta, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, etc.

My daughter lives near Norton Commons, and if I hadn't been sick while we were there in Dec we would have checked it out. I know there used to be a place on Bardstown Rd across from MidCity Mall that sold gelato....the guy supposedly learned from an Italian, but the fact that it was kept in an American-style freezer and was as hard as American ice cream just didn't work for me.

At 2/24/2008 12:50:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about Kentucky but here in So.Cal I can get San Marzano tomatoes. More and more Italian products are being found here. What I did bring back and will do again this summer is 00 flour for frying vegetables as we just don't have the equivalent here. Costco has excellent Parmesan- reggiano cheese--but it is fun to bring home for comfort for a while. Much of what you want, you won't get here--the truly fresh vegetables (they just aren't the same here). Cubed pancetta--I wish! But, the things you will treasure most are the ones that you touch and use each day--the spoon holder, the bowl, the ceramic "necklace" around the wine bottle neck, little things--ones you use each day. Because each of these is a memory and holds more memories--dinners cooked, friends entertained, windows looked through. The memories are good with a little nostalgia but not sad.

At 2/25/2008 03:37:00 AM , Blogger Gil said...

Sounds like you have sold your house? Congratulations on finally having accomplished this goal.

At 2/25/2008 11:30:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

No Gil, we haven't sold the house yet, but I'm trying to be positive and plan for the day it happens! With spring not far away we expect to see increased interest....fingers crossed!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home