Yesterday, my family and I were strolling slowly along the banks of the Tiber River, just down from Castel Sant’Angelo, while we finished off the cones from our latest gelato purchase. There was a crispness in the heat. Is that even possible? I struggle to describe the change in the weather, in the time of year. All I know is that I’m cold at night, rather than sweating in bed, it’s chilly in the morning, and the leaves have begun to fall more plentifully. This is the change that signals a new year of learning. For most countries, school begins again in September. My country, has changed its dates, shifting the beginning of the school year ever earlier. This year its mid-August. For my kids when we settle back in Turkey, it will be September 19th. I find myself mentally listing all the tasks I must complete before that day. The happiest one is of me having to buy Helen and Hector a few new items of clothing and imagining their cuteness as I prepare them for their first days of school. Will Helen want braids or buns in her hair? Will Hector take some baby wipes and clean off the soles of his tennis shoes before he sets off for school? It is new for them, this school thing. Well, not really. But they do get excited about being with other kids their age. I love their obvious eagerness.
As I look at the city of Rome all around me, I tell myself to live in the moment and stop fast forwarding my life away. That time will surely come. It always does. Spending the summer in Italy has been an excellent experience. Each person in our family has been able to do some pretty incredible things that we will always remember. Little memories, images, names, places, tastes, etc. will forever remain in my children’s brains and mine and Jonathan’s. What we didn’t get to experience much of is people. There just weren’t that many people that crossed our paths this summer that we were able to really feel like we knew. Only Hector and Helen got that opportunity since they attended a summer camp for almost a month of our stay here. This disappoints me and I will always regret it because I really feel like the best way to experience a country is, first and foremost, through the people that call it home. I could care less about the tourist attractions. They rarely reflect anything about the current population and only ask us to reach into the past, to ponder on a people long dead.
Yesterday, Sherman and I went to a gelato making class. During our summer, we have eaten gelato every day with the exception of Sundays and the days where we decided to indulge in it twice. That’s 55 days of gelato!! My favorite gelateria has become Punto Gelato. It’s a small gelateria between our apartment and the kids’ library. We discovered it on our first visit to the library. They have the most delicious cinnamon flavors. I always get their Indonesian cinnamon. But when I noticed one day that they had two cinnamons, one Indonesian and one from Madagascar, I tried the one from Madagascar. So much better! But they rarely make it. Such a divine creation!
Our class was very much worth the 60 euros. Just to know how they make this delicious stuff is worth it to me. After living in Turkey so many years and not really having any great ice cream, I am financially and emotionally invested in finding the secret to the texture and flavors of gelato. Summers are sweltering and humid in Turkey and if I have to spend next summer there, I, gosh darn it, am going to figure out how to make me some gelato!!!!!! There are many components to a great gelato. I’ll narrow them down to two. One, fresh quality ingredients.
Two, the machine. The machine is where the problem is. They have an industrial strength machine about the size of a small refrigerator that makes 4 kilos at a time, and spins at a high velocity. This produces a creaminess in the gelato, even when there is no cream. You cannot sense any ice crystals. In our class, we made a small quantity of strawberry gelato. We used a small ice cream maker, used in home kitchens and available for purchase on amazon. This gelato had a great flavor, but the ice crystals were evident visibly and on my tongue as I ate it. I informed the lab master, the lady who makes the gelato, that Punto Gelato is very much needed in Istanbul and to consider opening an additional location there. We’ll see what happens. Sherman took the class with me and really enjoyed eating multiple helpings of gelato.
This is just one of the many experiences we took advantage of while in Rome. Life is experienced through our senses, right? Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. There were a handful of moments where a combination of senses were stimulated in just a way that I will remember those moments forever. Some places are so magical for me I can’t even begin to be grateful enough for my senses that let me experience life in such a way.