Blog Assignment #3

I’ll explain. Cafes in Italy encapsulate so much of the culture at large.  During these weirdly liminal weeks of re-entry into American culture—when I’ve felt like I’m two places at once, or nowhere—I’ve been going through a process not unlike grief.  Surprising surges of emotion come over me at inconvenient moments, and I wonder if I could still be weak from jet-lag. No, I’m just sad that that wonderful, brief year is all over.  I’ve had trouble expressing this grief because I don’t want to sound like a complete snob or ungrateful spoiled brat while, on the beaches of New England, I weep for the lost vistas or Rome or when, confronted with the plethora of choices at a coffee shop, I tear up thinking about the perfect crema on a Roman caffe.  I’ll admit, I’m sad but life is good. Buonissimo, even.

After that brief apologia, let us return to Roman cafes.  On my last full day in Rome, I didn’t go to view the dome of San Pietro or to gaze up at the oculus of the Pantheon once more.  After leaving Jack at Scuola Arcobaleno for the last time, I stopped in the cafe on Via Fonteiana where we stopped almost every day for a little treat.  I stood at the bar and didn’t even have to say anything, because the friendly guy who makes the coffee drinks remembers what everyone likes.  What an honor for me to be included in his encyclopedic memory of drink orders in this cafe where people come and go constantly all day long! All the other parents from the school stop here before or after dropping off the ragazzini.  In cafes in Rome, people come in and stand at the bar.  There are no lane-ropes marking off where you’re supposed to stand in line. How barbaric! Everyone is relaxed. They seem to have all the time in the world. The parents and the bankers and pharmacists and grocery cashiers and hardware shop owner from across the street stand around, sip a caffe or cappuccino, maybe eat a nutella-filled pastry wrapped in a napkin, chit-chat, drop a few coins, and amble out.  Everything is done with a sense of ease.  There are no paper cups.  No rushing and bumping shoulders at the “condiment station.”

American coffee shops cater to the all-American values of independence and convenience.  But in our rush to make things easier for ourselves (plastic lids to prevent spilling as we speed-walk or drive on to the next important thing/place/event) or more “custom-made” (add-your-own-milk, choose-your-own-ingredients, metastasizing menus) are we sacrificing what is of real value in custom, culture, and civil-i-zation?  Do condiment stations make us more civilized?”

– From The Roving Locavore (link in my link section)

The author of this blog is Amy Campion, a mother who grew up in Vermont and strives to live a locavore lifestyle where ever life takes her. The primary content of this blog is locavore culture across the world, and in this blog post, it focuses on locavore culture from a year Amy spent in Rome, Italy. The perspective this blog offers is quite unique. When one thinks of locavore culture, it, by it’s very nature, inspires a small window of knowledge; limited to the local food and produce of that area. The Roving Locavore, however, provides a unique perspective by showing different cultures and foods that Amy has been privileged to be a part of, and keeping the locavore culture fresh and exciting. In this blog, Amy discusses the unique nature of Roman cafes, and the purpose of locavore eating in itself. Her claims are backed by personal experience and observations; such as the laid back, relaxed nature of the cafe’s, the fact that the server knew who she was, and what she liked, how everyone mingled together in one community. She then contrasts these claims with a typical American, mass produced coffee store, where people get in and get out as quickly as they can, abhorrent of anything that could stop their pace on their quick and pre-planned journey to work, or school, or other various places they must. be. at. immediately. This blog has many things it can contribute to the overall locavore food debate, the most important being that locavore culture is universal. It spans over the whole world; and can greatly contribute to the culture of a country, city, town, place. Locavore culture brings people together in a way that mass produced foods and impersonal shopping simply cannot.


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