Day 124 and 125: Bologna

I love food. I love eating it, I love thinking about it, I love making it, I love sharing it and I love talking about it. I’ve got a blog about it and I’m planning a future in it. It’s become such a visible part of who I am I’ve developed a reputation. Now everywhere I go people want to, or feel obliged to, give me good food. They cook for me, they show me the best places to go and they take me out to their favourite restaurants. It’s great, I love it but I’m starting to feel a bit guilty. Everyone is taking me out to restaurants all the time and I know these are restaurants people really love but they’re not necessarily ones they go to regularly. They’re often much more expensive, unhealthy or out of the way than the usual joints.

Sometimes I feel like scammy evangelist. Here I am enthusiastically yelling about loving everything, people are getting all swept up and giddy in all the excitement and then a few hours later I’m taking their money and plunging food down their mouth like an overzealous charity. These people had budgets and diets once upon a time, now they’re poor and covered in butter. For everyone I’ve ignorantly swept up in my whirlwind I’m sorry. I can only hope you enjoyed it.

My time in Bologna has been the epitome of this experience. I came here to meet Nicola, a Bologna native I was lucky enough to meet while studying in Sydney. Almost immediately after arriving I was at the centre of a discussion between Nicola and his friends about where I should eat. They said it’s a pity I’ve come in summer because the bolognese cuisine is particularly famous for being the heaviest Italian cuisine. Well Nicola heavy is how I like it best. The last two days have been a non-stop glutinous marathon of Bologna’s finest and fattiest.

Tagliatelle raju

Tagliatelle raju and penne with prosciutto, Parmesan and rocket

Strawberries and balsamic on mozzarella like cheese

Strawberries and balsamic on mozzarella like cheese

Brioche loaded with chocolate hazelnut cream

Brioche loaded with chocolate hazelnut cream

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Gelato focaccia - chocolate chip brioche sandwich with dark chocolate, dulce de leche and hazelnut gelato

Gelato focaccia – chocolate chip brioche sandwich with dark chocolate, dulce de leche and hazelnut gelato

Pork and cheese tortellini cooked in broth with melted cheese

Pork, ham, mortadella, nutmeg and cheese tortellini cooked in broth with melted cheese

Pizza with pork sausage, mozzarella, rocket and balsamic

Pizza with pork sausage, mozzarella, rocket and balsamic

Brioche with pistachio cream

Brioche with pistachio cream

Ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit, and pistachio gelato

Ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit, and pistachio gelato

Trio of pastas: 1. Tortellini  2. Gnocchi with prosciutto and rock melon 3. Spaghetti with olive, tomato, chilli and Parmesan

Trio of pastas:
1. Tortellini
2. Gnocchi with prosciutto and rock melon
3. Spaghetti with olive, tomato, chilli and Parmesan

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Smorgasbord of amazing shit: 1. Gnochettini 2. Fried dough 3. Charcuterie plate with pancetta, mortadella, prosciutto and pork head 4. Animal fat, parmesan and Nutella 5. Fresh cheese and rocket 6. Pickled mushrooms, artichoke, onions, olives and us dried tomatoes

Smorgasbord of amazing shit:
1. Fried dough
2. More fried dough
3. Charcuterie plate with pancetta, mortadella, prosciutto and that kind of salami with all the left over bits
4. Animal fat, parmesan and Nutella
5. Fresh cheese and rocket
6. Pickled mushrooms, artichoke, onions, olives and sun dried tomatoes

Salami cake. Chocolate, Gianduia and biscotti - no actual salami

Chocolate salami cake – Chocolate, port, butter, gianduia and biscotti smeared in marscapone

Susanna, Nicola and Ervis I salute you. It’s been fucking excellent.

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Bologna must be the biggest small place in the world. Only 500,000 people live here but shit’s going on everywhere. Open air cinemas, live music, markets, people in dress ups aggressively singing at people through megaphones and more packed and frivolous bars and restaurants than a whole team of professional stick pointers could point sticks at. High five writing!

Most people would say it’s because a quarter of the population is made up of university students. I’ve been to a few university cities, I’ve even lived in one for seven months and I can assure you none of them were nearly as interesting and happening as Bologna. Most of the time the only character the local students were adding to the town were puddles of vomit every Friday night.

It wasn’t just Bologna either. The whole province is in on it.

On Tuesday Nicola took me to his home town, San Giovanni, a small place of about 20,000 people, 20km out of Bologna. I’ve never seen anything like it – open air bar, €5 pizzas, live music, beach volleyball, normal volley ball, World Cup screenings, craft and it’s all free! It’s only a rainy Tuesday night and this looks like the coolest place to hang out I’ve ever seen. Do any Australian towns have this intensity of activity on a Tuesday night? People were playing soap Futsal for fucks sake! It wasn’t even a novelty – they do it every week. There are legit teams with legit jerseys, prizes, glory, injuries* and all those other things that come with semi-pro sports. How can I come from Sydney and be jealous of the night time activities of a town with a hundredth of the population?

I’m back on the road tomorrow. I’m heading to Milan to meet my friend Roslyn. I’m pretty fucking excited to see her. I don’t really know what we’re going to do after we meet but I don’t really care.

*it’s gotta be the most injurious sport in the world?

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