A last look at Trieste before we depart for Greece. Hakan Grudd, a research engineer at Stockholm University, arrived today and will accompany Paul and I for a week or so as we carry out fieldwork in the northern Greek mountains. Later today (May 29th) we will depart from Sezana and drive to Venice Italy where we will meet the ferry that will take us to Greece.
As anyone might expect the Italian culture surrounding food is in a category all of its own. Unlike many other cultures where people live to work or live solely to advance in society, Italians live for life and sitting down and enjoying a meal is one way of doing so. During one of these lunches it is not uncommon to have 4-5 bottles of wine amongst your family over a couple hours of loud and compassionate conversation. Since my stay with Mario and Vera Krusic, I have experienced many a meal completely different from that which I was used to in the United States. Here is a little guide, explained to me in detail by Mario, concerning the proper way to drink during a family lunch.
1: When you arrive at a restaurant or are sitting down to a home cooked meal you are greeted by a fizzy type of wine, not champagne, for example frizzantino or prosecco.
2: Next you select a red wine to accompany meat or a white wine if you chose to eat fish. The red wine, Merlo for example, will differ depending on the type of meat you get, light versus stronger meat requires a light versus strong wine, red is also always served at an ambient temperature. If you are having fish stay with white wine 10-11 degrees Celsius.
4: After you are finished the main meal you will now have desert wine. Desert wine is very sweet and very strong, 18 percent alcohol content in many cases. An example is vin santo or la crème de cristo.
5: After desert liquors are served. For example sorbet or amaro lucano, these are meant to help digestion after a large meal.
6: Coffee is after and the stronger the better to help revive you from the food coma you’re slowly slipping into.
7: If you’re not too drunk already then there is a brandy or grappa, made from grapes that is served. You will only drink a tiny amount but the taste helps to complete the meal. You may drink cognac if you are more French than Italian.
Now you are finished and it is only lunch so mind your manners in the street and hope you recover fast enough to do it all again for dinner in 4-5 hours…. Ah Italy
On May 23rd Paul and I departed for Sezana Slovenia, a small town directly on the Italian Slovenian border, 10km from Trieste Italy. The drive took us through Helsingborg Sweden, Rodby Denmark, Nuremberg Germany, Innsbruck Austria, Trieste Italy and finally Sezana Slovenia, where soft beds welcomed our exhausted bodies. The drive covered around 1,800km and took us close to 27 hours because our truck, with its 110hp, averaged only 80km/h which is not much especially when cars on the autobahn are passing 150km/h…However the beauty of the landscape and the company I shared made every moment worth while.
One of my favorite parts of the drive was crossing the Alps from Austria to Italy through Brenner Pass. As we climbed in elevation the temperature dropped to 4 degrees C and thick clouds moved in over the horizon. Snow was visible on the high peaks ahead of us, but the ground where we were driving was still green and covered with vegetation. Soon, after repeated screams from our trusted GPS, we broke off the highway and onto a smaller road that would take us south west to Trieste Italy and then to Slovenia. It immediately began to snow and as we climbed, the ground now covered with 7-8inches. We traveled this way for the next 1 and 1/2 hours until we began to descend in elevation and enter Italy where the snow stopped. This, an experience I never expected to have, not on this trip at least.
We arrived at our destination in Slovenia close to midnight on may 24th. From then until the 29th we will gather supplies and enjoy the wonderful company of Mario and Vera Krusic, Paul’s Aunt and Uncle, until it is time to meet the ferry in Venice Italy, which will take us to Greece where our work begins.
After two plane rides, one train ride and one taxi ride, I arrived at my destination in beautiful Stockholm Sweden. I welcomed a soft bed and warm food after literally being packaged between two large men for 5 hours during my flight from Boston to Iceland, and again during my 3 1/2 hour flight from Iceland to Stockholm. That was yesterday. Today I caught up on sleep and bought some last minute supplies in Kungstradgarden which is practically the hub of Stockholm with a shopping district that rivals NYC, so needles to say I was a little overwhelmed.
In about 6 hours Paul Krusic and I will finish packing the truck and leave Stockholm for Greece. I’m excited for the drive although I’m still not quite sure the exact rout we’ll be taking (more details on that when they come). We’ll be driving a 1998 Land Rover Defender, which is quite the experience in itself, soon to be loaded with gear and food. The time difference (6 hours ahead) is still taking some getting used to… because of Swedens close proximity to the arctic circle It is light pretty much 24/7 here, making sleeping difficult. I hope to nap before our journey begins.
Iceland Airport 3:00am