Day 16: Representing Italy In A World Fair

Tonight I technically experienced two new things: representing a foreign country to the public and participating in a world fair. The country I represented was Italia- Italy. Ok, so I’m not Italian, but for a while I’ve been thinking I should be. And tonight totally proved that. My sister, Susanna was hosting/putting on a World Fair at the college she works at and asked me to represent Italy. Of course, I said yes! I studied in Italy for four months about a year and a half ago and loved it, and any chance to relive my moments of pretending to be Italian was one I was going to take. Representing a country in this fair meant preparing and manning a table, including decorations and food, and dressing the part. I took on this challenge with a vengeance (vengeance on the Italian government for making me come back once my student visa was up).

For decorations I tried to think of any possible memento or product I had from my time in Italy. I didn’t think I had too many, but seeing as how I’m fashion obsessed, I ended up with more than I thought. I picked 6 scarves from my ‘Italian scarf rack’ that were colorful and patterned and favorites of mine and figured I could use them to decorate the table like a table cloth while also acting as decorative props. I also had some jewelry from different parts of Italy- a ring from Prato, a necklace and bracelet from Capri, and different bracelet sets from Florence. I put these in a colorful tin dish I had bought in Italy(I think it was from Positano on the Almalfi coast, but I can’t even remember!). I had bought this tan, leather traveling bag that I had forgotten about until I found it in a box in my closet, so I dug that out as well. I thought that the mix of scarves, jewelry (both nice and island-y), and leather bags was a good mix of what Italy produces. But we can’t forget about the delicious, famous, Italian food! Luckily, my mom had some bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette that were imported from Italy (seeing as how she used up all the ones I had brought back). However, we did still have a bottle of pepperoncino oil and it looked pretty fancy. I placed these with my Italian cookbook and some spices I had brought my mom (I’m beginning to wonder if she likes them because she hasn’t opened them yet in a year and a half! Mom? Explain yourself!). This finished off my decorating and table props. Now I had to decide what to make for food tasting!

When I was in Italy I took a cooking class and the women who taught it gave us a cookbook of all the recipes that we made, which totaled to six 4 or 5- course meals. I have made a few them again since I’ve been back, but there are two that I remember loving and haven’t made yet. They were almond biscotti (biscotti in Italian means cookies. ‘cookie’ singular is biscotto) and pappa al pomodoro, which translates to tomato bread soup. I don’t really like american biscotti, but the recipe I have for these almond ones is amazing! The soup is actually just what it’s called: tomato and bread. There are other ingredients (typical of Italian cooking- basill, olive oil, garlic, etc.) as well, but it is a very thick soup. It used to be a dish servants would make from the bread scraps after a meal for themselves because it is made with dried, stale bread which softens over time with the tomato. Now, even if you go to an up-scale restaurant, you will usually find a variation of this soup in any restaurant or household in Italy. Because I haven’t made these dishes in a long time (and didn’t even make them myself the first time), I was nervous as to how they would turn out. I was nervous, period, about being able to cover and decorate a table enough to represent a country that I really wasn’t from.

As it turns out, I had nothing to be nervous about! It was a great success! In fact the whole fair was an awesome success. Shout out to my

So many people came out! It was a great success. The ambience was very beautiful and cultured.

sister, Susanna, who coordinated the whole thing. There were about ten countries represented, each with different decorations and yummy, yummy food! (My favorite was the chocolate from Spain and the guava on crackers from Cuba) There were also tables where you could get free samples of products and buy things such as Teavana, Ten Thousand Villages, and a woman giving Henna tatoos. All these wonderful settings along with the festive, cultural music and the multi-cultural decorations set the mood. You felt like you were walking across the oceans and lands to far-off places in 10 seconds! My table turned out great, too. I was able to cover most of it with the decorations and the food was a hit! Everyone LOVED the soup and after an hour, my soup and biscotti were gone. A couple even came by and challenged me about whether or not my food was authentic. Upon telling them it was, the woman told me she was Italian and wanted to try it. Bring it on. She took one bite, looked at me and said, “It sure tastes Italian. It’s really good!” The man turned towards me and asked me if I put garlic in it. Puh-leaze. Is there any such thing as Italian food sans garlic? Man, I was good. So many people even thought I was Italian!

This experience really proved to me that it is important to be familiar with other cultures. I don’t mean that you have to visit other countries and interact with other cultures (however, I strongly suggest it). But, even just learning about them- their religions, their dress, their food, their arts, their government (this last one is something I hate to learn, but try), I believe is very beneficial to how you view your own culture, the people around you, and yourself. We all live in the same world and are called to love each other (John 13:34). I think that the more you know about someone’s background, about their culture, the easier it is to know how to love them better, in a way they understand and want to love also. Representing Italy, a country I’m not from, made me realize that I even thought I’m a stranger to some people in far-off lands, I don’t have to be a stranger to those far-off lands. I come from the same world and have the privilege to know it.

One of my favorite quotes: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”   -Saint Augustine

You can travel by getting on a plane or sitting in a chair with a book. Either one, or anything in between, I assure you, will do.

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2 Comments on “Day 16: Representing Italy In A World Fair”

  1. Evert Says:

    I can’t even explain how much I LOVE this post! (not to mention, every post before this) keep up the good work. Maybe when all the proconsolo sei girls meet up in NY over the summer, we can climb/visit the empire state building and the statue of liberty with you!

  2. Susanna Says:

    Thank you again Sarah for your help!!! It was awesome to have you there with me!!! So excited to spend more time with you this weekend!


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