Studying Abroad: A Recipe from Florence, Italy

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Italy holds a special place in my heart–I lived there for four months while studying abroad in Florence. When I read about the earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy on April 6, I was overcome with emotions. I looked around my home and felt terrible that I had a roof over my head and there were tens of thousands homeless. According to BBC News, 1,500 people were injured and 90 people have been reported dead. That number is expected to rise.

The tragedy in Italy made me grateful for the beautiful days I had during my study abroad experience. As an art history major with a focus on the Italian Renaissance, I studied abroad to experience the art I had been studyng.

While I was in Italy my taste buds transformed. I went from strongly disliking many vegetables, red meat and garlic to incorporating them into my cooking. Prior to Italy, my cooking consisted of the microwave and a pack of frozen fish sticks!

My Italian apartment was centrally located and close to the old train station, which was converted into a fresh market.

The bottom level offered meats, breads, cheeses, dried goods and coffee; the upstairs offered all the fresh produce you could ever dream of. I picked out my vendor for all of the different food groups and returned to them throughout my time in Florence.

Once I built a relationship with the local street vendors, I asked them for the best way to prepare certain types of food. Eventually they caught on and realized I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen. Many people, including the butcher and my unfortunate next door neighbor–whose apartment constantly smelled like my burnt cooking–gave me cooking advice. Even though I went to Italy to develop an understanding of its art history pallet, I also came home with a better understanding of cooking.

One of my favorite dishes I made, and finally was successful in pulling off, was Ten Herb Sausages (Salsicce alle dieci erbe). Now I make it whenever I start to miss Italy. Although I’ve prepared it countless times, there still seems to be something missing. It might be the difference in produce, or it might be the difference in meat.

I think it’s missing Italy.

Ten Herb Sausages (Salsicce alle dieci erbe)
Serves 4

• 8 Italian sausages
• Fresh sage, chopped
• Fresh basil, chopped
• Fresh thyme, chopped
• Fresh marjoram, chopped
• Fresh mint, chopped
• Fresh tarragon, chopped
• Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
• Fresh rosemary, chopped 
• Shallots and celery stalks, chopped
• ½ cup white wine, dry
• 2 tablespoons water

1. Prick small holes into eight sausages to avoid splitting.

2. Place the sausages in a pan with 2 tablespoons of water and cook for roughly 10 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Add herbs, taking it easy on the stronger herbs like rosemary.

4. Add the celery and shallots and allow dish to cook for a few more minutes.

5. Add wine and cook until evaporated.

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