Me and the Head Chef
Remember how I told you that I’d joined Sangam, the Indian Cultural Club on campus? Well, we finally did something. And can I just say, this culture ROCKS, as does its culinary tradition. Per my request, we agreed to meet up and take a stab at cooking Indian food. What I didn’t realize is that there would be a professional.
The entire clan came to my humble abode, as well as the mother of one of our members. With her came pots, pans, and enough food to feed 10 people (with enough leftovers for a week). She brought a curry (the secrets of which I still must unlock), the makings of a chick-pea soup, rice and cilantro, and yogurt–I didn’t get this last one, but it worked.
The big finish came when she busted out dough and the equipment necessary to make bread. Which we did! (See picture below). We had a number of botched attempts, but also some great ones. Overall it was a fantastic experience, and one that I hope can be repeated in the future. Unfortunately, this won’t be possible on my own, what with my spice rack being in the state that it is…nonexistent.
When it came time for block party, the annual congregation of the student body to sign up for clubs and extracurricular activities, I came to a huge realization. I don’t have anything I need to sign up for. I have my whole senior year planned out.
And that didn’t feel right to me. Granted, I’m happy that I find myself in a number of stable positions in clubs that I have devoted a year or more of my time to, but there seemed something stagnant about this statement.
So I found one thing that I know nothing about and went with it: Sangam! This is the “Indian club” on campus. Not limited to those of Indian descent, it is an opportunity to learn more about a culture that I know very little about (besides my brief encounters through “Slumdog Millionaire” and Panjabi MC) and to connect with some of my good friends both of Indian descent and who are involved in the club. Not to mention we can jam out to some awesome songs like “Jai Ho.”
The most fascinating part of the weekend was later that day when she walked us through her grounds (something between a medieval castle and a renaissance villa) and taught us about her process.
She uses a grape that is unique to Toscana, one that is smaller and produces a third the amount of wine than other grapes. Her rationalization: “I drink wine, I don’t drink money.” It was a simple joke, but the meaning behind that completely floored me. A profound connection exists between the people and the food they grow, one that transcends profits.
She recognize this. She said again and again that when you eat, 70% of the material comes out as waste, unusable, unneeded. However, that 30% that stays, that can remain with you forever. She was hyper-aware of that. For that reason, when we visited, she put incredible amounts of effort into preparing our meal. As her guests, she sees an intrinsic duty in providing us with healthy, wholesome food. Once she has cooked and we have eaten, a connection is formed between us forever.
How can you not love this place, and these people?
There's a proper form that must be followed when serving wine. I have it down pat.
The duchess (as we call her) taught us not only how to taste wine, but to experience it. She said, “I have this friend, God, you might know him, who gave me two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.” And those were the exact tools that we used to probe into the before-unseen depths of this “nectar of life” (Again her words).
Corno Di Vino, an amazing place
We could see the type of wine, the age of it, how it was housed, the percentage of alcohol. We could smell the bitterness, the dryness, the flavors. We could taste the dryness with our gums, the initial burst of flavor that has been mixed with the air and one’s saliva, feel the heat on the tongue, and (my favorite), the final tastes at the back of one’s throat, a faculty of the mouth I had never before realized.
Ever since I was “un bambino,” my parents have had a glass of wine with their meal. I never before understood why. “It tastes awful!” my adolescent faculties screamed in protest. But I have been given a taste of what is actual present in every glass of wine.
Part 3: The Culmination of the Weekend
Do you know the difference between Italian and American culture? Well, besides the humorous videos that have delved into this topic before, I believe it is contained entirely within the realm of wine. Fo’ real.
This weekend past I made an excursion with my class—those of us studying in Perugia through Arcadia University. We traveled to an “azienda agricolo,” also known as a vineyard. The bus ride was, as usual, one beautiful view after another rushing by like clouds, yet imprinting themselves on my mind like the memories of a good friend would.
Andrew's attempt at being profound and artistic. Comment below if he even came close!
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by one of the most humorous, bashful, and profound personalities I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. She is a duchess, life-long producer and appreciator of wine, and life-philosophizer.
Read On: Part 2
Clowes Hall is the pride of Butler, a fantastic performance hall that brings in amazing performances from around the world. This week it was a Broadway performance of “Beauty and the Beast.” Being unable to go myself, I decided to interview someone who did. Stephanny Tauber is a senior Arts Administration Major who has quite the passion for performance.
Hey! Those people sure the fun hotspots around town
“Beauty and the Beast being at Clowes was so great not only because of the mug scene, or the fact that I want to be Belle, or even that it’s right here on campus, but because I was able to take my residents” (she’s also a resident assistant at the girl’s dorm) “without having to drive them.”
“Having an auditorium like that so close gets students excited about performing arts, which is good for a girl graduating with an arts administration degree.” So there you have it. Straight from the source of all things theater. This should also enforce the idea that being in the “Butler Bubble” does not mean you are cut off from the outside world. It just means that the outside world wants to come to us.
I’m tempted to write this post in Italian, but I figured I would cut out your stop to Google Translate in the interest of time. Before I go on, you should know a few things about me. I’m a Creative Writing Major. My classes consist of reading literature and writing both research papers and works of fiction. Except for one class–la lingua di Italiano.
I have studied the language and culture of Italy for the past two years, and fallen in love with that boot shaped country. Professoressa Lucchi-Reister is behind the magic of the class. A native to Rome, she has worked diligently with me and my classmates to help us to enter into the historically rich culture of Italy.
In the interest of pursuing this part of my education, I plan on studying abroad there in the spring. This is a fine example of how Butler encourages its students to expand their horizons beyond their major, to develop a more holistic understanding of the world, and the communities that surround us. I’ll leave you with this short video, one my favorite examples of the idiosyncrasies of the Italian culture.