Meet the Gastronomes – Alessandra Marasso

Time for another gastronome’s story.

Today you are meeting the darling Alessandra Marasso.  This girl is always giggling and smiling, and loves like its her job.  I remember loving her from the first moment I met her because her accent was the most of the Italians accent, so I could understand her with the most ease.  Like all Italians she thinks her English is terrible, but once you read her words I think you’ll agree with me.  Her English words are gorgeous.

Alessandra
Photo Credit: Alessandra Marasso

Enjoy a glimpse into what makes Alessandra such creature of love and kindness.

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Warm, familiar, fragrant, freshly harvested, colored and full of joy.

 

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Photo Credit: Alessandra Marasso

When I close my eyes and I think about what food is for me, my heart immediately takes me back to my childhood and to my beloved countryside. I like to believe that here something magical has happened, creating an inseparable bond between me, nature and food.  

 

I believe that people who lived in the countryside always bring a bit of this wonderful world with them. You can see them as they chase a frog, listen to the wind in the trees, take a nap on the lawn to feel the earth closer, or run through the cornfields in the early morning. Yes, that’s me.

The last days of school before the summer holidays, it was impossible for me to stay in my desk while the teacher was explaining the final equations on the blackboard. My feet were eager to feel the ground beneath them and my mind was already dreaming about the farm animals that were waiting for me. My grandparents had a farm not far for my hometown and I was lucky enough to spend most of my weekends and my holidays there.  That was my magical world.

Early in the morning, I wore my straw hat and I went to the stable to feed the cows with my sister. Actually we weren’t very good at it, we preferred to pet the calves and to roll in the hay. Then we went to the chicken coop and I remember the wonder in finding the eggs just laid by the hens and waiting for the birth of the chicks. Every single egg was a surprise: the sign of life that is moving.

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Photo Credit: Alessandra Marasso

My favourite part of the day was the one dedicated to the vegetable garden. My grandmother was always there, she was such a font of knowledge. She taught me the right season for sowing, the weeds that need to be pulled, the harmful and beneficial insects for the plants and the right time to harvest the fruits of the earth. I felt like a little chemist in his lab, but I also experienced the strength and the beauty of nature, something to respect and admire.  Once harvested we cooked together omelettes, salty pies, ratatouilles and casseroles listening to the sounds of the countryside coming from the open window .  

The moments that I remember with the most joy are the long days dedicated to the preservation of tomatoes, jams and to the wine harvest. At night, when you were under the covers, you could still notice the smell of boiled tomatoes, fruits or wine on your skin. Those scents are indelible to me.

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Photo Credit: Alessandra Marasso

Many times during my studies and my work experiences I felt out of space, surrounded by a world that is spinning too fast and concentrated on principles far from me. I missed the contact with the ground, the simplicity of life following the rhythms of nature and all those special moments where you feel part of something bigger. Food for me is something spiritual that can open our minds towards new cultures and new points of view, but it is also able to bring us back to the origins and to what is really important in our lives.     

 

Since I have started this course of study I finally feel home.

 

I no longer live in the countryside, but as I write these lines I see out of the window my small vegetable garden flourishing on the balcony. Forgive me, I have to leave you. The lettuce is ready to be harvested.

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I truly love every time someone sends me their post because I see a new glimpse into them.  I started the Meet the Gastronomes series to introduce my readers to my friends and the people of UNISG.  Somehow, the series has actually become a way for me to learn more about my friends as well.

In some instances, it is an entirely new and unexpected glimpse into the person writing.  For others, its the backstory to an element of them I see every day.  For those like Alessandra, it explains who they are.  A carefree and loving wildflower, her story about an emotional connection to the earth makes her character shine even brighter.

 It allows for me to see my friends in a new a different light, truly proving the intricacies of humans.  A weekly lesson that we can never judge someone because odds are, we will never know the full story until we ask.

 New content coming this week about what it is that we actually do here and what the gastronomes are studying.  Enjoy learning the stories that currently surround you and, as always, stay hungry.

-The Very Hungry Traveler

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Photo Credit: Alessandra Marasso
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