Italian Dentistry

panoramica.jpgLast week I had my first meaningful experience with an Italian dentist. 

It was Special.

The story begins last month when I decided it was high time to get my teeth checked out.  I hadn’t been to the dentist in over a year, and for some reason (could it be my obsession with dessert?) my teeth are prone to cavities.

After consulting with the local experts, I decided to go to the faithful Badellino family dentist.  The dentist recommended I get a panoramic xray before coming in for a cleaning and check-up, so Rosanna made me an appointment at the local hospital, and a week later I was in the x-ray room with a panoramic x-ray machine that looked like somthing out of the Planet of the Apes.  (I later learned that the hospital itself is over 200 years old, so it’s possible that the machine actually was prehistoric.) Four days after my x-ray, I had to go back to the hospital to pick up the panorama and pay €23 (a pretty reasonable fee, though they did make me wait 45 minutes at the first appointment).

eatanything.jpgWith panorama in hand, I was now ready to actually go to the dentist.  We called again to make an appointment and once again stressed that I needed both a cleaning and a check up.  Another week later I find myself in the waiting room, eager to have my teeth cleaned after a year of neglect and maltreatment.  Once again, even though I have an appointment, I have to wait for a good 30 minutes before the dentist calls me into his office.  There were actually two dentists–one in his late forties: very tan with white hair; and another in his early sixties, the spitting image of Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future.  The tan one right away says, “what a mouth!  You don’t need to be here!” and Christopher Lloyd says, “I don’t see any wisdom teeth…” as he holds hold my panorama up to the light coming in from the window.  They take a glance at my teeth, find a small cavity, and in less than three minutes, I’m out of the chair with another appointment to return for the cleaning and filling.

A week later, I’m back in the dentist’s chair and the tan one is telling me he’s going to try and fill my cavity without giving me novacaine.  “Oh God!,” I’m thinking to myself, “What’s next?  Shouldn’t they be doing the cleaning first?”  But not wanting to tell these guys how to do their job, I let them drill away.  They fill the cavity in five minutes, and once again I’m on my way.  They’ve refused to clean my teeth, even after three requests!

What does a girl have to do to get her teeth cleaned around here?  Well, I’ve taken matters into my own hands and am being very conscientious about brushing and flossing.

Tomorrow I’m going to the eye doctor.  Wish me luck!

CioccolaTò & The Mole

On Sunday we went to Torino to experience their annual chocolate festival, CioccolaTò. I have to say, it wasn’t as impressive as I was hoping.  Torino has several famous chocolate making companies–Venchi, Streglio, Peyrano, etc. — and a couple new, smaller artisan producers like Giraudi are popping up now that the city is promoting its chocolate history.

There were a few free samples and lots of hot chocolate (too bad it was 70 degrees out!), but nothing really creative or new, at least in the stands that were in the main piazza.  Maybe next year I’ll have to check out the laboratories.

Afterwards we went to the Mole to check out the National Museum of Film.  There was lots to see and a sort of magic glass elevator that took you up to the top to see the few of Torino from above.  Groovy.

Educational Dining

On Tuesday night I went to a teaching dinner at Apro with some of my ex-colleagues from AlbaBarolo.  It was really fun, and the food was great.  Basically, once a month, the school invites a chef from a highly-respected restaurant to be a guest teacher for a day.  The chef comes up with a menu and explains the preparations to the students, who then work together with the chef to prepare the meal for 40 people.  Each dish (there are usually four or five courses) is paired with a wine from the region.  The wineries are invited to the dinner and present their wine at the beginning of each course.  Since Apro teaches front-of-the-house-management as well, the waiters & waitresses are all students.

The guest chef on Tuesday night was Massimo Dellaferrera from La Coccinella (the ladybug: what a coincidence!) in Serravalle Langhe.  I hadn’t been to his restaurant before, but after sampling his work at the school, I feel we’ll be visiting the restaurant itself soon.  Yummers! Here’s Tuesday’s dinner menu:

Ostriche al lardo con polenta e salsa allo spumante

Oysters wrapped in lardo (like prosciutto) with Polenta and Champagne Sauce


Frisse di capocollo di maiale con verza e salsiccia

Shredded Capocollo with Cabbage and Sausage

Individual Lasagna filled with veal tripe, fresh tomatoes and parsley pesto 

Lasagnetta di trippa di vitello al pomodoro fresco e pesto di prezzemolo


Roasted Duck Leg with braised Scallions 

Coscia d’anatra stracotta con scalogni brasati


Soufflè di melighe e zabaione con sorbetto agli amaretti

Cornmeal soufflè with zabaione center served with Amaretti Cookie Sorbet


Piemonte DOC Spumante 2004 Pinot Nero – Aziena Agricola Castello di Neive – Neive

Barbera d’Alba DOC 2006 – Azienda Agricola Filippo Gallino – Canale

Barbaresco DOCG 2003 – Cantina Produttori del Barbaresco – Barbaresco

Moscato d’Asti DOCG 2007 – Azienda Agricola Bera – Neviglie

Pepedoro (The Golden Pepper)

disco.jpgI went out by myself on Tuesday night.  It was the first time in…2 1/2 years that I’ve gone to a discoteca without Luca!  And the second time that I’ve gone out by myself–hello, Shira, can we say “Need to get out more”.

I met a couple of colleagues at Pepedoro for a drink and an evening of 70’s & 80’s music.  It was pretty fun.  Though how the whole Italian club thing is still confusing for me.  In the states you pretty much always have to show your id at the door and pay.  There were a couple of security-guard looking types at the door, so I whipped out my ID and they were like, “uuhh…you don’t have to show that to me…”  Yeah, I guess they were just there for the music…

Then at the second door there were more security-guard looking types, but I decided to play it cool and not show them my id.  I knew that the entrance fee was €5 so I got my money out, but they guy just gave me a gold credit card type dealy and shoed me into the door.  I was like, “Sweet!,” I don’t even have to pay the entrance fee.  Then, you go in and there are like a maze of corridors (so, of course I had no idea which one to take).  Eventually I found the coat check, which was extremely complicated.   They give you a number, which you take to the bar and pay €1,50.  The bar gives you a bunch of receipts, one for a free drink (score!), one for coat check validation, and one to get out of the club with.  All I have to say is, it’s a good thing I didn’t start drinking before I went to the club, because I definitely would have had even more difficulty getting through the whole entrance process!

The music was okay, though there were a lot of songs that I think were big in Europe in the 70s-80s that never made it in the states.  I had a good mojito and danced to the songs I knew.  They just passed a new law in Italy that clubs have to stop serving liquor at 2am.  I think this is going to change Italian nightlife quite a bit.  Usually people go out at 11:30/midnight and stay out until 5 or 6 in the morning; then they go to a cafè for an espresso and a croissant.  But with no liquor after 2am, I imagine things will get started earlier and finish earlier.  Or else people will just bring booze from home and hide it in their purses…

Not An Undershirty Girl

When Luca’s Mom started giving me undershirts, I was worried.  Undershirts?  Even when I was little I wasn’t the undershirt type.  (…Or was I, Mom?) I don’t have memories of prancing around in little duck-patterned underthings like some of my friends did.  Undershirts for me have always been one of those nonsensical garmets that I’m happy to be without.  

Needless to say, when I moved to Italy and started hearing other girls my age talk about how they never go without an undershirt (not even in the summer!) I started wondering if I hadn’t made a big mistake by moving to a country populated with sissy, undershirt-wearing women.  When I overheard older generations lamenting about getting sick after having their stomach unexpectedly exposed to the cold, I REALLY started worrying. 

So, it was with a  somewhat prepared but skeptical heart that I accepted the new undershirts from Rosanna.  (The Italians have yet to convince me that getting a cool draft down your neck or being unexpectedly exposed to cold air is a sure fire way to come down with a cold — or wose: the flu!  These wives’ tales and home remedies for illness prevention are intriuging me but undubitally reek of outdated old-fashionedness to me…I wish I could respect these beliefs more, especially since it’s me versus the entire sex of a nation and my lack of agreement on this matter surely hasn’t helped my assimilation into local society.) 

I started wearing the undershirts when the weather turned bitterly cold here and the thermostat at work bit the big one.  (I was also somewhat motivated by the fact that they are pretty undershirts–creme colored with a small quanitity of sensible lace, and soft (only the best quality wool for me–thank goodness Rosanna has good taste!). 

And now I’m addicted.  I can’t stop wearing them; if I don’t have one on, I feel naked and just generally miserable.  They keep you so warm and cozy.  I feel protected when I wear my new undershirts.

In addition, I would just like to point out that undershirts can double as pajama tops, triple as a going out shirt or an under-the-business-jacket blouse in a pinch,
and they really do keep you warmer.

Surprise Birthday Party

Last night Luca organized a surprise birthday party for me!  How exciting.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a surprise birthday party before.  It was a low key event, but highly enjoyable nonetheless.  I thought we had plans to go eat pizza with Luca’s parents, but when we went to pick them up, Luca’s mom had prepared an elaborate birthday dinner and two of our friends were there waiting for me!  They gave me a beautiful Guess leather handbag.  (It’s kind of like this one, but beige leather instead of gold). 

The dinner menu included: 

Chicken Aspic (slices of chicken rolled with carrots and peas under a chicken stock gelatin)

Roasted red and yellow bell peppers with bagna cauda (olive oil, anchovies, lots of garlic, all slow cooked together into a flavorful sauce)

Crepes filled with Porcini Mushrooms, Ricotta and Bechamel & Crepes with a Spinach Ricotta filling

Roasted Goat and Lamb with a Mixed Green Salad

Assorted Artisan Cheeses

Two Birthday Cakes!! 

And of course, lots of wine and digestives afterwards.


5 of 10