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23.12.06

Italy: what I will miss most...

posted by Jamila

...because I know it will always touch some soft spot in my heart. Or stomach.

1. Food. Food. Food. More specifically, read on.


My retori-fab kitchen in Florence


2. Pesto alla Calabrese by Barilla, but not to be found in the States—a heavenly combination of bell peppers and cream.



images via
saymo.de


3. Fresh lemons. The juiciest lemons ever. More lemon juice than you know what to do with.


photo courtesy of meredici-abroadinitaly.com


4. Mukki. Local dairy. The way it should be.


a Mukki-stuffed fridge


5. Mini Fantasie from Conad supermarkets. Think: assorted ice creams - all your favorites - but miniature.


left: Mini Fantasie, on sale!; clutching my Mini Fantasie box, pin-up style

6. La Giostra. Dimitri. Soldano. Sacher Torte. Sea bass with red wine sauce and cherry tomatoes. Un regalo degli antipasti. Complimentary champagne. And more complimentary champagne.


left to right: branzino; me devouring osso bucco; Sacher Torte - all at La Giostra in Florence


(Something other than food... ?)

7. Well, the wine!

(And to stray from cuisine entirely...?)

8. Michael, Bruni, Doni, Raph, Cosi, Botti, and all the rest of the gang.


just kidding

9. Sodomy.

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17.12.06

Pisa, Paris: and what the hell is wrong with Air France?

posted by Jamila

I flew this airline twice in the past four months. The first time our plane was delayed for two hours while everyone sat on the plane overheated. Thus we miss our connection and about half the luggage was missing for three days. Ok. Happens.

But then I had the unfortunate experience of flying with AF again two days ago.

First of all—everyone in the Florence airport is incompetent and should seriously have eaten their breakfast before they got to work so as to be able to check people in more than one hour before their plane should be taking off. Colazione is no excuse to force 100 people to miss connection flights. And maybe more than one woman at the check-in desk would be better when there are three flights leaving within three hours and 300 people waiting in line.

Second of all—when a flight arrives and there are 50 passengers on it that have a connection flight that has not left the ground, it makes a good deal of sense to send those people over to their connection. No? Because sending those 50 passengers to customer service for new flights, meal vouchers and hotel reservations is not going to help the company budget.

Third of all—it's ok to not return said 50 passengers' luggage to them if that means the airline has a whole day to transfer the luggage to their new route. Surviving one night without fresh underwear or liquids is doable. Hey, I'm not a demanding person. Shit happens. BUT...

Fourth of all—if said luggage is kept overnight and said passengers smell foul because they have no toothpaste or deodorant, there should be no reason why their luggage is not properly redirected and placed on their next flight. This could take about an hour. It should not take more than 24 hours.

Fifth of all—if said luggage does not in fact make it to the new flight and 50 people are standing at the baggage claim with their arms crossed waiting for an hour, it's not a very good idea to tell these people that "you do have their luggage, you just don't know where it is." Not only is this lying. It also just doesn't make logical sense.


me in my "potato sack," slipping down the leaning tower of Pisa on a rainy day


It's the fourth day of wearing my trusty "potato sack" (a shirt long enough on my body to be a "dress" though wide and shapeless enough to be a "sack"). And I guess it might as well be—it followed me through Italy, into Germany, across the Strait of Gibraltar and into the African Sahara.

It sat delayed in airports and stank of several days' worth of sweat. It witnessed the efficiency of the Germans and the utter incompetence of the Italians. It soaked up the spices of Morocco and the rain of Pisa. And I guess it is used to the chaos, my beloved sack. So I'm ok, me and my sack.

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10.12.06

Florence: Donatello's David

posted by Jamila


photo via mta.ca


This man has occupied the space between my ears for about a month now, and he has taught me more about history, humanity, art, and life in general than some of my professors this semester.

The attraction to this David is what interests me most. His sheer beauty. He represents every aspect of the Renaissance male sphere except in bodily form. In that respect he takes on the form of an adolescent boy, perhaps no older than 16 years of age. And further, David possesses a mystique about himself that I would not shy from labeling feminine. Indeed, adolescent boys during the Renaissance were allotted to the status group of women, more or less.

No one is really in touch with the female voice of David's time. Perhaps women strolling through the Medici court secretly swooned along with their husbands over the bronze hero. And this is perhaps what disappoints most about this topic: how easily we may enter into the minds of men, who traced the footprints of history, but somehow the minds of women are shut off to us in so many instances.

And there is the source of David's mystique. He is, after all, the first transgender bronze nude.


Read the article: "Donatello's David: A Symbol of Florentine Male Culture" >>

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6.12.06

Moroccan men and me

posted by Jamila: composing from Florence

Here's a group of vocabulary to which I've never been accustomed...

Man #1: "You are very good and very kind, I promise."

Man #2: "Is he your husband?"
Me: "Yes."
Man #2: "Then goodbye."

Man #3: [to travel companion] "How many camels for your friend?"

Man #4: "What if you my wife."

Man #3: "I'll give you 17 camels for her."

Man #4: "I have big house. Lots of rooms. Garden."

Man #1: "Why Jamila, why..."

Perhaps the only man to see me through a lens unfocused by gender was Man #5, Hassan, a sweet and humble gentleman of middle age, married (clearly happily) and full of good-hearted humor. He drew the below portrait of me. I was charmed.


Jamila is a name I earned from Hassan and his friends. It means "beautiful" in Arabic. But this portrait is hardly the classic beauty of a woman. Morrocan men taught me the most important lesson of all: the value of my worth. Perhaps my exterior beauty can be measured in camels; my interior cannot, nor can it be bought at all.

Thank you, Hassan.

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5.12.06

Florence: handbags and a lack of rags

posted by Jamila


classic Italian elegance

Something I will never quite understand about the Florentines: that they insist on draping themselves in Louis Vuitton or Gucci bags (their designers of choice) and yet they refuse to groom their dogs or clean up the shit on the sidewalk. Perhaps they don't mind it lying around? I understand a revulsion for shit, though it comes part and parcel with the dog package. And I can't comprehend why stooping for a brief moment to scoop it up (and they do sell scented baggies to make the experience a notch less unpleasant) is more awful than seeing piles of it left and right on a daily basis. At night it is particularly dangerous—as most everything closes by 7 pm, there is not enough illumination to warn a casual stroller of the fecal dangers that lurk. I have witnessed just about every size and shape designer bag in the past three months; I have also discovered every shape, color, size and texture of dog feces.

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