Tonight we had a large dinner party at our house with some of the members of my program: John and his wife Jane (the retired CIA agents), Colette (curator from Washington DC), Robin and her daughter Khoe, Christina (Colette's visiting friend), and Patrick and Alan, along with Isa, Antonio, and me. Cramming all of us into the dining room was quite an adventure, let me tell you! But it was definitely in the true Italian spirit!
Some of the ladies came over early and we had cooking lessons from Isa, the best cook in Amelia. We made SO MUCH FOOD, all of it from scratch. Here's a bit of the menu:
Cheese with crackers
Every kind of wine imaginable
Bread, bread, and more bread
Pasta with swordfish (I obviously didn't eat that)
Zucchini and eggplant with mint
Fried hot peppers
My favorite fried things with new stuffing! Totally different taste experience!
Lettucey kale type stuff, pine nuts, raisins, capers, black olives, and I think basil all cooked up in a pan with olive oil
Peaches and yellow plums
Meringue topped with fresh cream and summer berries (AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!!)
Brownies, courtesy of Jane that were PHENOMENAL
And, of course, Isa's homemade limoncello for dessert
I am incredibly stuffed, but it was so much fun helping prepare the meal! I mostly helped make the cripsy pocket things, which I learned are called "calzoncelli" like little calzones (but fried) so that I can make them when I go home. My first experience making dough from scratch was interesting...but I finally got the hang of it! Christina took some pictures, so I will try to kidnap them from her tomorrow.
Also, today I gave a presentation on "Marion True: A Shady Lady" for my Archaeology and Antiquities Law class. I tried to play devil's advocate because our teacher, Derek Fincham, would always joke in class about how I was the shady art dealer. So I decided to pick a comrade and focused on Marion True and her history and trial (read The Medici Conspiracy to get some awesome in depth details about some of the stunts this woman has pulled. Unbelievable!) and then tried to relate the mentality of buying illicit antiquities to everyday consumer attitudes, like shopping at WalMart even though they have been known to abuse child labor laws and sweatshops. So many of us sacrifice our moral beliefs and support this institution because of the cheap prices and convenience associated with it. Or how a certain person I know acquired a television set off of craigslist.com for an insanely cheap price, and upon installation found on the back written in permanent marker evidence that it was probably stolen from a rental company and sold illegally for profit. But hey, it was a great deal! And the buyer rationalizes that maybe there was a liquidation sale despite the shady circumstances of the deal and the writing on the back of the tv. The buyer often does not WANT to know the true provenance because if ever questioned, they can claim they purchased the item in good faith. The same can be applied to the antiquities trade.
Essentially the point of my presentation was to say that Marion True did some pretty underhanded things, but she is definitely not the only human being with a tendency to turn a blind eye in lew of a good deal.
At dinner, John gave me a great compliment. He asked me what I studied in school, and when I told him art history and communications, he said Ah Ha! Apparently, he believes that my handle on communications is very firm because I presented my topic today (as well as the presentation on art in advertising...a variation of my senior thesis adapted for the Art World class) in a very effective way. According to John, I package my information in a way that commands attention using humor that forces people to listen to what I am saying, and before they know it, they are laughing with me as I make a valid and entertaining point. He told me to keep a hold of this skill because I use it effectively and it will be very valuable in my career. Coming from a man with as prestigious a history as John, I am extremely flattered and grateful. Thank you pageants for teaching me the art of public speaking. :-)
This weekend we are having the ARCA conference, and I will be excited to sleep in on Sunday. Italian social life is beginning to take a toll on my studying and sleeping habits... :-(