First stop: Gelateria Gianni.
Unfortunately, it was closed. Apparently most people don't eat gelato before noon. Dammit. I suppose that if gelato were meant to be part of a balanced breakfast it would've squeezed its way into the world of "Stuff That's Marketed As Breakfast Foods For Kids But Is More Likely To Give Them ADD Than Any Real Nutrition."
Still, dammit. I'm not a kid anymore. I can make adult decisions, such as how to nutritionally unbalance my day.
Diana and I wandered around the little streets just north of the center, not looking for anything in particular, when we came across Gelateria Delle Moline. And it was...open. I expressed my gratitude by sharply sucking in air, followed by a gasp of, "OMG GELATO," whilst my eyes went through the motions of "bugging out." Apparently this gelateria thought gelato was part of a balanced breakfast. I concur.
Actually, I wasn't very hungry at the moment. Not having grown up eating breakfast, my stomach tends to squirm funnily and change from "vessel of frothy digestion" to "empty vacuum that fails to desire food" at the thought of eating before lunchtime (something that changed over the course of the vacation while being surrounded by breakfast lovers, those metabolically unchallenged bastards). I thought I would just take note of the gelateria as a place to revisit later, but Diana (yeah, that Diana!) nudged me into gelato submission.
...Not that it took much nudging or anything.
As usual I got a cup of pistachio and something else, in this case fior di latte (milk flavored, somewhat, like vanilla ice cream without the vanilla). Once again, the pistachio was awesome with that deep nutty flavor thing going for it, like dipping your tongue into a river of pistachio squeezings. I mean, awesome compared to what we get in the US, maybe average for what you get in Bologna. It wasn't as rich and buttery as Gianni's version, but that may have been a good thing for something that I was eating at 11AM.
Diana became partial to the pistachio and strawberry combination. I think it works well too, besides that it looks pretty—the craggy peak of dark pink sorbet overlooking a smooth light yellow-green pistachio valley that curves over the edge of...the earth...if the earth were made of gelato. Oh my god, what a beautiful world it would be. Although inconveniently sticky and susceptible to melting.
We went back to the hotel to meet up with Morten, aka "The Crux of Our Existence in Bologna." Somewhat. He studied in Bologna a few years ago and deemed it, "The Best Place to Stay in Italy for an Extended Period of Time, Especially If You Like Food," which is why he proposed going on a Bologna-centric adventure to me a few months ago. We weren't sure about his high accolades for the city at first, but after traveling to a bunch of other cities in Italy that rubbed us in right ways and chaffed us in wrong ways (sometimes only chaffing), we decided that he was spot on. I can see why he wants to relocate from the somewhat utopian Bergen (except for the weather and the food) to the warm and hospitable tortelloni-filled land of Bologna.
Our first order of business was to find sustenance. Morten weaved us through food market-laden streets until we hit Tamburini, a popular gourmet food shop where displays are filled with fresh pastas and shelves radiate pinkness with piles of cured ham legs. You can also stop in for a quick lunch from their cafeteria line of pastas, meat, vegetables, and...well, anything else you would feel like eating, which is what we were there for.
After the gelato breakfast I was sadly still not very hungry. Waves of shock with tinges of disappointment rumbled through our table when I was unable to finish a heaping plate of ricotta cheese-stuffed tortelloni in a light ragu. Diana couldn't finish her plate either, but...she's Diana. When presented with a mountain of cheese-filled pasta (and it was lot, trust me), she's not expected to finish it. I, on the other hand, seem to command a different set of expectations involving gluttony and an inhuman stomach that can expand indefinitely.
"Robyn, you didn't eat everything!" Morten exclaimed. His plate was clean. Well, he didn't eat gelato for breakfast. And he's bigger than me. And has more metabolism. And he's a dude. And stuff.
"When I say I eat 'everything' that doesn't mean I eat EVERYTHING-everything. I mean, I at least try everything. I don't necessarily lick the plate clean." The tortelloni was delicious—wheaty pasta shell filled with soft, creamy cheese tends to be like that—but there was, like, an entire village of it on my plate, if everyone in the village were gathered into a messy pile and made of pasta and filled with cheese and covered in tomato-y meat bits.
I CAN STILL BE "THE GIRL WHO ATE EVERYTHING" EVEN IF I DON'T EAT EVERYTHING, OKAY? OKAY. ...Wait, that doesn't make much sense.
We moved eastward to our new digs, a short-term rental apartment about half an hour away from the city center by bus. A bus ticket lasts an hour and costs 1 euro (no change is given for 2 euro coins, so stock up on those ones), which you pay for on a machine on the bus (there's no interaction with the driver whatsoever), unless the bus doesn't have a machine, in which case you just hope no one checks for your nonexistent ticket. You can save some money by buying a 10-trip "City Pass" for around 8 euros at a Tabacchi (easy to spot since it will be marked by a blue and white sign sticking out of the entrance that reads, "TABACCHI") or, I assume, an atc shop. Over the two and a half weeks I was in Bologna I was slightly disappointed that no one ever checked my ticket—I wanted to prove that I was being lawful, dammit.
After plopping our stuff down we went to the local PAM supermarket to find food for the next few days. And thus Morten found out what a horrible person I am to go grocery shopping with.
"What do you want?"
"I don't care." [blink]
In general, I don't care, at least not in Morten's presence. I knew that anything Morten made would taste like awesome and anything that I made would taste like pig sludge. I don't have to know what pig sludge is actually made of (more than pigs) to know that it probably doesn't taste very good.
Something I am capable of doing is picking fruits. ...At least, I'm usually capable of doing this. In Italy you must provide a barrier between your skin's ungodly oils and the delicate surface of Mother Nature's fruits and vegetation by sheathing your hand with a plastic glove, which is vaguely shaped like a thing with five finger-like protrusions.
I didn't initially notice the sign that said, "PUT ON GLOVE OR DIE," as I poked the fruit with my dirty paws. Luckily, it didn't take long for me to notice that other people were picking gloves from a stand in between the produce section and the bread section (or perhaps Diana told me to stop poking the fruit...probably that) or else the supermarket police may have caught me in the act of soiling the produce and demand that I return to my home country so that I may restrict my filth to North America.
We ended up buying a whole fish, chicken, bread, artichoke hearts stuffed with cheese (oh man, delicious) mozzarella, some kind of cured ham, tomatoes, cheese-stuffed marinated artichoke hearts (initially Diana's favorite, but now one of mine!) and various other kinds of fruits and vegetables. Dinner for the night would be baked fish with bread and a salad of tomato and radicchio. For some reason I got left with the task of preparing the fish.
"Okay Robyn, you know what to do." Morten smiled at me in the way that said, "You don't know what to do; I just like torturing you."
I had a vague idea of what to do, but Morten probably could've cleaned and seasoned the fish in half the time I did it. Or he would've done it without mumbling, "Euh, it's wet....and squishy...and feels very dead...how much salt do I put on it?...what do I do with these lemons?...euh, it's wet."
Our kitchen appeared to be well equipped with the basics—it had pots, utensils, cups, gas burners, an oven, and to Morten's caffeine-loving delight, the quintessential Italian espresso pot—but a problem arose when we attempted to cut anything larger than a ping pong ball. There was only one cutting tool of suitable length and it most resembled a giant butter knife. In other words, it was shitty. We could hardly believe such a knife would exist except for the purpose of spreading a giant slab of butter on a slice of bread the size of a pizza, which we had no intention of doing, or for ineffectively stabbing someone, which we also had no intention of doing. Morten butter knifed the radicchio (in the photo you can see the knife on the cutting board) into salad bits as my hands became infused with fish oils.
In the end, the fish actually came out very good. Moist and flaky and whatever else a well cooked fish should taste like. Whole fish, baked or steamed, is one of my favorite things to eat, yet for no good reason ("laziness" not being a good reason) I rarely prepare it. I suppose I should make it more often, as the dish scores low on the "How Much Effort Do I Have To Put Into This To Make It Taste Good?" scale.
We sat around. Talked. Watched football. Watched Morten watch football. That's what you get for having a TV in the kitchen.