Pasta, Nutella and Expensive Cheese

They say when you learn a new language, you discover a new part of yourself. This fall, I started Italian and now I like expensive cheese?

Yep. The College of Arts and Sciences hosts a week of events to celebrate the culture of many of the languages taught at the University of Oklahoma. Italy Week was a blast.

It started out with pasta making, something I was determined to excel at now that I was learning about my Italian self. My roommate, Amy, and I went to the class. I followed the directions, was proud of my creation, and sent a photo of my achievement to my friend in Asti, Italy.

“It isn’t normal,” was his response.

I couldn’t get myself to eat more than one bite…maybe pasta making isn’t my thing.

The “Is it Italian or American Nutella?” event sounded a little more promising – and less difficult. I go through about one jar of Nutella a week, so I was bound to notice the difference between the two.

I couldn’t. They tasted the same to me. But it was free Nutella on the South Oval so I was quite pleased.

Now, here comes the highlight of Italy Week: Cheese and Olive Oil Tasting Class.

I like my cheese cheap and American on hamburgers and grilled cheese, but my ~cultured~ side was coming out so I had to give it a try.

We started with tasting olive oils. By tasting, I mean sniffing, swirling, smacking and contemplating the hundreds of ways to describe

how a teaspoon ofolive oil can taste. I know the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff, but I’m quite puzzled as to how one can describe olive oil as a green banana or wood. But those were options on the score sheet…

And then we had three, thin, triangular slices of cheese in front of us ranging from a few weeks to a few years in age. I will argue that tasting cheese is an art form of its own and it is fascinating to hear the history behind the pecorino sardo, piave vecchio and casatica.

Even though my Italian friend criticized my pasta, we shared the same preference for pecorino. That boosted my confidence.

I still make ravioli in the microwave and enjoy frozen pizza, but I learned to appreciate the origins and the stories behind some of the most admired food in the world.

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