Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Spending Christmas and the New Year Right!

Happy New Year everyone!  

I've spent the last week and a half in Montefegatesi, Tuscany.  Montefegatesi, is a small village (population of about 130 in the winter) located in the rolling Tuscan hills.  I'm doing workaway here, although, the family I'm staying with hasn't really required me to do much in the way of real work.  My primary responsibilities seem to be hanging out with the family and once helping to pick vegetables in the garden. 

Since I arrived on the 22nd we have been busy celebrating the holidays.  Christmas we celebrated the Italian way; I think on Friday we are celebrating again with an English Christmas dinner as the mom is English.  There was loads of pasta (including fresh made spinach and ricotta ravioli, delish!), roast beef, salad and an English touch with fruitcake and trifle to end.  We ended the night at a local ballroom dance; I can't say I'm gifted at dancing and I had a hard time managing even the basic steps but I had a great time trying.

Last night we brought in the New Year at a community dinner where we ate lentils to signify wealth in the new year and more courses than I had room for, along with dancing and karaoke.  If the fun I had last night is an omen for the year to come than I am in luck!  My goal for the New Year is to get a bit more out of my element and partying and meeting new people in a place where you don't speak the language too well is definitely part of that.  In Montefegatesi I have found that less people here speak English so I am trying hard not to be too shy with my Italian!  This year has definitely been a growing experience.  Traveling on my own, finding the places I am happiest in, and seeing where I really feel the most like myself (which turns out is when I'm adapting to new places and meeting new people!).

Another interesting experience I've had here is going to a place called the "Stanza".  The Stanza is a hunting room where the men (and sometimes women) meet  to cook and share a meal together; generally, the meal is freshly hunted wild boar otherwise known as cinghiale (pronounced Shin-ga-li) in Italian.  You know it is fresh because often there are wild boar carcasses hanging up while you eat.  I think it is admirable eating food from natural sources and the wild, but I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a hunter considering how squeamish it makes me even looking at the carcasses.  However, I am an adventurous eater and pride myself on trying everything at least once so I definitely wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to try wild boar.  I tried roast boar, porchetta (which looked innocuous but was made from boar's blood, cheek, ears and nose), heart, liver and fried boar's testicles.  After getting over the squeamish bit I have to admit that everything was actually quite tasty. Boar to me tastes very similar to beef and anything fried of course is yummy.  

My only side trip so far from Montefegatesi has been to Montecatini for Father Christmas' House but tomorrow we head to Lucca!

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