04 June 2015

Coffee, "Companion" and other Cool Things

Today, June 4th,  has - so far - been one of the best days I have spent in Italy. Once you've seen the Colosseum and climbed Palatine Hill, you realize that the most interesting thing about Italy is definitely the people. Dr. de Rachewiltz and his family are some of the most well educated and intriguing people I have ever met! His wife, Brigette, is - as previously mentioned - a fine cook, but what I did not know is that she is originally from Austria. Today I ate lunch with the family and got to know them all a bit better. I spoke to her about The Sound of Music - which she seems to like - and her certification in Sustainability, one of the most difficult certifications to obtain. The family was  welcoming and gracious; it was a pleasure listening to their conversation and learning about their lives and how they ended up living at Castle Brunnenburg.

Lunch was pasta, for the first time since I have been in residence at Brunnenburg, and it was scrumptious! Ms. Brigette also offered me some of the Brunnenburg wine which was sinfully delicious. They grow the grapes on their vineyard here and bottle the wine themselves. It was a unique and unforgettable dining experience. Rose and Kasey, the two ladies who work on the farm, are both Americans. I talked to them about how they made their way to Brunnenburg and their dreams of the future, as well as the all important question of Disney movies and heroes versus villains. It was fascinating to see how much I share with these girls - and even the de Rachewiltz family - who live so far from Texas; yet all of us share a fascination with this mountain, a love of fireworks and an appreciation for good food, wine, coffee and conversation.

At the end of the meal they offered me some coffee - I must say that the coffee in Italy is superb. The small cups filled with espresso and then shot through with a dash of milk and sugar have made this bitter drink (for the first time) one of my favorite treats.

Dr. de Rachewiltz, with his study of etymology, has reignited my love of words and languages. Yesterday he broke down the word "companion" for us in class. He examined how the two root words: "com" - together or with - and "pan" - meaning bread - combine to form the word's meaning which is literally "one with whom to eat bread". Today I experienced wonderful conversation, with stellar companions over a meal of bread and pasta.

During class with Dr. Redman this morning he went over the layout of Venice and also discussed the role of food in the social hierarchy of the city and the multiculturalism which one can see through the variety of the ingredients. As a maritime city, and one of the greatest trading Republics of antiquity, Venetians were heirs to a myriad of foods including ingredients and dishes from the Middle East, China, mainland Italy and Greece. The importance of food as a bond between cultures and peoples, as well as individuals, has been one of the main themes of both Dr. de Rachewiltz's class and Dr. Redman's lectures on Venice. It was amazing today to see these themes in action in a real world setting as I experienced true companionship through food and wine.

Good afternoon from Castle Brunnenburg!


Hal Brunson said...

Nina, that's excellent writing!

Enchanted Etymologist said...

Thank you, Brother Hal! That means a lot to me. Hope moving is going well! We miss you!