Getting Ahead: Sustainability and Awesome Italian Food

Howdy folks! 

We’re gearing up for a fantastic long weekend in Paris but before we go I wanted to catch up on the ground we’ve covered thus far. 

First of all, this pizza was fantastic. Never had egg on my pie and this dazzler came with ham, sausage, artichokes, bell peppers, etc.  We got it at this cute little place in Summertown. 

 
On Tuesday, we visited the Ashmolean Museum and met with the chair of sustainability for Oxford City Council. Both were eye-opening experiences. 

The Ashmolean though, to be frank, was a huge bust. 

See what I did there? Even Apollo cracked a smile.


This was some of the most fascinating stuff from civilizations all over the globe. A lot of the pieces, particularly those from Ancient Greece, got me thinking about what it means to preserve what we have and how it’s vital in history to keep the artifacts we have available for study and accessible to the public. 

We only fully understand where we are once we grasp that from which we grew as human civilization. But here is the dilemma: what happens when our reverence for relics from history, whether it’s Westminster Abbey or a fragment of an Eqyptian statue, jeopardizes their existence? 

This statue of Aphrodite dates back to about 200 AD . You’ll notice several things missing here, but for some reason this piece is more gripping than many of the Arundel Marbles that were restored sculptures that took remains like these and spruced them up with new parts.

Glass cases and heavy security can only do so much for preserving the artifacts that we celebrate. They are our link to all that came before us, but when we have displays that see so much traffic through tourism and travels, these pieces are put at risk for wear and tear. So what’s the priority: public right to access art as civilized society, or the relics that are the proof of how we came to have civilized society in the first place? 

 

In the spirit of trying to illuminate the answers to deep questions, check out Guy Fawkes’s latern, believed by many to be the one he carried when he was apprehended that famous November 5

 
The answer is in sustainable practices. There was a whole floor of the Ashmolean devoted to the discussion of preservation and restoration. Simply put, making use of what we have to strengthening our link to what was is the way to keep maintain our history through artifacts. Not necessarily sculpting a head for sculpture 1500 years after its creation, but finding ways to make what exists from antiquity last. 

Side note: this was a great cafe lunch for a busy day. The sandwich had fresh mozzarella, dark greens and tomato and the sour cabbage soup was hearty with little chunks of potato. Cheap eats can be delicious too!

This idea of preserving what is for future generations to enjoy is also prevalent in Oxford’s city government. The city sees about 9 million visitors per year and that number is growing. 

 

The city center is always packed. There are few individual cars compared to buses, which have been redesigned with low-emission engines

 
 To keep Oxford in its resplendent traditional state, citizens have to abide by legislation that prioritizes the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags here are not free. It is highly encouraged that people bring their own reusable bags. In another example, the city’s transportation system is mostly dependent on buses. 

In Columbus, when the population grows, we demand more roads to accommodate the traffic. Would we do the same if we were surrounded by churches and colleges that were hundreds of years old? 

My eyelids are getting heavy so I’ll leave this post with some deep thoughts to discuss later.  Suffice to say that no system can focus on either the quality of life for people today or the quality of life for people in the future exclusively; there has to be a balance. 

Just like with people, the relics of our culture have to be an investment not just as today’s attraction but also as tomorrow’s vital resource for understanding. 

To break up my usual long-winded-ness, behold more noms! 

 

This cappellini was fantastic. The mushroom sauce was thick and flavorful and steamy enough to keep the thick layer of cheese melted at a perfect consistency. The crepes were stuffed with spinach and ground beef and mixed so well with the sauce and cheese. The little Italian bistro where we ate was a quaint find a block down from the British Museum.

 
That’s all for now! 

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A Tale of Two Tuesdays…

First of all, hello! And welcome to my blog!

To all of my loyal #ToastTuesday followers (aka mom, dad, cherished grandparents, wary roommates, and obliging, treasured and dearly-missed co-workers), thank you for your support in this new adventure.  From bandaging my wushtoff-ravagged fingers to gurgling over a mouthful of molasses-soaked oats to assure me that “no, it isn’t too chewy,” your acceptance and encouragement of my inconsistent but cherished hobby has meant more to me than you’ll ever know.

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Another special thanks to Lou the Great Pyrenees/Polar Bear for being my writing companion for my first blog post.

To everyone else, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ashley and I am a culinary novice about to head out on an exciting new adventure. This past year, the word “adventure” has had many connotations.  From starting a new chapter as an MPA student and graduate assistant at Columbus State University, to striking out on my own with two of my best friends, to staying up until two in the morning trying to figure out how to convert regular flour into cornmeal because I refuse to make another 2am trip to Walmart over a stupid scone…it’s been a year for the books. In the midst of bungling through adulthood, I had the bright idea of addressing my biggest pet peeve of finding big ideas-specifically recipes- and saving them for later without ever trying them out. Here’s how it started:

One free morning last summer (that happened to be a Tuesday), I baked a blueberry breakfast cake and it was good. The next Tuesday, I fried up some pumpkin French toast and it was ghastly. Yet, I found that I still enjoyed the process and learned something (mainly that skinny wheat bread is unfit for the burden of becoming glorious French toast with the added density of canned pumpkin).  What’s more, I liked the idea of sharing the product- good or bad- with other people and getting their feedback. Hence, #ToastTuesday was born.  To make a long story short, I want to start this story by asserting that food is probably my absolute favorite area of study and has been a far back as I can remember.

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My first true love in the kitchen was cake-batter. I think this is probably my main reason for enjoying the process; the only person with access to the best part of the product is the one who does the work. Thank you, Granny Lee, for these early lessons and for your patience back when I knew how to use an electric mixer before I could reach the sink to clean dishes.

The rules of this challenge were simple: all dishes from scratch, all baked goods (because I love them), and always always something at least a little bit new. This personal project has been a learning process that has helped shaped the way I look at a lot of my life moving forward. Starting from the beginning, whether its for a new job, a new house, or a new recipe for an ultra-flaky pastry crust, can be daunting. However, when there’s no telling what the outcome will be, the thrill of the unknown can make muddling through and building the skills to make things work is its own reward. Not to mention all the fun kitchen gadgets I’ve amassed along the way…

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In case anyone wants to know how to look like a bumpkin at Mall of Georgia, have your mom following you around with her phone taking pictures of you holding cookware and insisting “it’s for the blog!” Love you, mom, and thank you for the awesome and relaxing send-off weekend.

It is with this mentality that I start the next leg of my baking/life journey with help from CSU.  I’m going to be spending the next two weeks in England (with a little side trip to Paris as well). I’m seizing this experience as an opportunity to fulfill a most-beloved pastime: eating.  In the absence of my tiny-shared kitchen, I’ll be venturing out every day and trying something new and writing about it here.  The idea here is to share the virtues of trying new things and illuminating (especially to other students considering going abroad) how a culture shock- especially one in a Parisian pastry shop- can be a beautiful thing.

I’ll also be sharing a little bit of what I’m learning as a student completing MPA coursework (as it pertains to food, of course), and most of all, upholding my standards for writing mind-numbingly verbose love notes over my favorite dishes.

In less than an hour, I’ll be reporting for check-in at Hartsfield-Jackson and the journey will start.

Here we go!