Lettuce Rejoice!

Sorry for the lack of recipes this week, things have been crazy at the collective 5 jobs that Taylor and I work at. Hope you liked the haikus though! Today I’ve got a entry from one of my old blogs based on an entry from an even older blog (so meta!) It’s another story from when I studied abroad in Italy. It’s semi-food related so I figured it was appropriate to post here. We’ll have more recipes next week!

I got lost the other day. I was down in the West Village and got completely disoriented. I tried as long as possible to figure out directions myself, but I was late and finally just decided to use my Iphone to tell me how to be a functioning human instead. Normally my internal compass is very good; when exiting a subway station I immediately know which direction to walk in 98% of the time. (Also very good, but unrelated, is my internal clock. In fact, one of my favorite games to play is “Guess What Time It Is.” I feel like I should be embarrassed for admitting this fact, but I’m kind of too impressed with myself to care.)

Anyway, my recent directional mishap reminded me of this other time I got terribly lost while I was studying abroad in Florence during the Fall of 2010. I actually wrote about this incident on my blog from back then, but figured I would retell it because its that good. I also recently decided to look at my old blog to see if anyone had visited lately and a surprisingly large number of people in Slovenia have been reading it. Apparently they can relate to my stories of getting trapped in an airport for 17 hours as well as the time I accidentally set my sock on fire and almost killed my roommates. (It was a very eventful semester.)

So, here it is folks. The time I got lost on a lettuce farm. Enjoy.

As part of the study abroad program we were all required to take 6 credits of Italian, which meant class met 5 days a week. I loved my teacher. Her name was Valentina and she was an awesome individual. She also looked like a corpse because her teeth were super nasty from smoking, her skin was really tan and wrinkly, and she was about as thin as a string bean. But aside from all that, she was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.

The program tried to give us as much exposure to the “real” Florence as possible through the form of field trips. On this one fateful day Valentina took us outside of the city center and into a less touristy area for us to get gelato and talk to strangers in Italian by ourselves. Having taken Italian in high school, I was pretty confident in my abilities and found myself easily chattering away with my new acquaintances. But time flies when you’re munching away on gelato and it soon became time for us to go back to the villa for class. There was (supposedly) more than enough time to walk back so Valentina gave me directions in Italian and I started on my way.

After walking a block or so I realized I wasn’t alone and that 5 or 6 girls from my class were following me back to campus. Though this made me a little nervous, I knew where I was going and they weren’t bothering me, so we went right along on our way.

So we’re walking and walking, and it’s really hot out so we’re sweating quite a bit, and its getting closer and closer to the time class starts, but I wasn’t really worried. I even worked up the courage to double check with a stranger that I was going in the right direction. There were some whispering complaints from the peanut gallery behind me, but I ignored them and we kept trekking on. As we were walking I began to slowly notice that the road was disappearing, but I didn’t want to say anything for fear of worrying the pack of sheepdog students following me. But before we knew it we’re walking down a dirt path, through a huge gate, and onto a field of lettuce.


Well, there’s no point in me trying to keep my cool at this point, so I start buggin’ out, and because I was freaking out everyone else started getting panicky. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than a bunch of sweaty, drowned rat looking, tired girls – trust me. But just when we thought everything was hopeless, someone noticed an old farmer in the distance staring right at us.

I was elected to be the one to talk to him, so I cautiously walked over and tried to explain in English that we were sorry for trespassing, but were students and very lost. He had no clue what I was saying and just stared at me for a couple of seconds. I decided to try out some of my brilliant Italian skills (though I soon realized that under pressure I only really knew how to talk about gelato and other pointless phrases like “T’amazzo!!!” which means “I’m going to kill you!!!” which I didn’t think would be very helpful in my current situation.) So instead I said, “Sono studentesse” and used lots of hand movements and distressed facial expressions, which seemed to do the trick because he began to nod wildly. I tried a little more Italian and whipped out my sweat stained map and tried to ask him where Villa Ulivi (the famous villa where we were studying) was. After about what felt like 10 more minutes of broken Italian charade games he finally said to me, “Are you here to work for me? hahaha!” IN ENGLISH. HE MADE A JOKE TO ME. IN ENGLISH. HE COULD SPEAK ENGLISH. After all that I was just so completely exhausted from all the liquid in my body pouring out in pounds of sweat, that I could only manage to squeak out a giggle.

He must have felt bad for me because he continued the rest of our conversation in English. He told me that he knew of Villa Ulivi but unfortunately didn’t know where it was or how to get there. Seeing my spirits crushed before his very eyes he then added “But my son might!” With the mention of this son I perked right up. He got lost on a little tangent about how much I would like his son and how good looking he was, which I was totally okay with. (Sadly this wasn’t the only time an Italian would try and hook me up with someone they knew. Clearly my state of sheer desperadoes even transcended language barriers.) But I said no grazie because it would take awhile and I needed to get back to my group.

The farmer gave me one of his lettuce heads, and with heavy hearts the girls and I decided to walk back the way we came. As we were walking we realized that the road forked (REALLY??) so we took the other prong, walked up a vertical hill with no sidewalk, dodging speeding taxis the whole time, and finally found campus. We said our cranky goodbyes and I even made it back just in time to find out my class had been postponed an hour. What luck. Instead of complaining, I decided to just leaf it alone and call it a day.


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