Friday, April 19, 2013

Pina's Visit from The Boston Bombers - I Bombers di Boston a Casa di Pina

It is surreal and frightening. The Boston Marathon bombings horror is not over. It all just happened outside Tronk's babysitter, zia Pina's house in Watertown, at twelve thirty last night

Apparently, the Boston Marathon bombers, who are Cambridge residents,  shot a policeman outside the MIT campus, then stole a car at the nearest gas station and then managed to drive, with two cars, all the way to her house in Watertown. 

"The shooting started in Nichols Avenue, where a big troupe of policemen arrived on big trucks", said Pina. "There was first the horrible sound of a bomb exploding in the street. I thought there could be fireworks outside". 

Whoever went out to find out, soon realized he was in a machine gun shooting scene and that the blood coming out was real.

"The shooting happened right in front of my house. After the bombings in Copley Square and an anonymous phone call, at the back of my mind I kept fearing that the terrorists would come to my house... They did!  One of the two bombers parked his truck in front of my house".

Looking for the suspects

Her story continued:"I kept hearing so much machine gun noise. I was terrified at some point, I started screaming out of my window. They shot the first suspect, then they tried to shoot the second one. The one who parked the truck in front of my house died. The second one managed to run away, after leaving blood on our street. Dogs and ambulances arrived. Then, all of a sudden, they rang our door bell. My son opened the door. I was shaking. They told us to immediately run out of the house and to go in the back yard, to protect ourselves from the explosion of a bomb. They thought it might be hidden in the truck parked in front of our house. We have been up since last night, waiting for this nightmare to end, in terror. It has still not ended. Outside our window, we continue to see ambulances and police trucks coming towards us."

Here in Boston we can no longer distinguish between reality and fiction. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Contaminated Food in the American Schools - Cibo Contaminato nelle Scuole Americane

Healthy Option in the American Schools Menu
John says that food is my number one obsession. He is right. Here in the US, there isn't a single day that goes by without me thinking about food problems and this is not the first time I write a post to complain about the American food (see what's wrong with the American cooking and my mom's cooking advice). 

Here is my latest disappointment. I was so sad (and angry) to read this story. And I strongly support this mom, with all my heart, in her efforts to change the questionable eating habits of the Americans.

I lived in England for twelve years. I must confess, although I was aware of the growth in obesity in the US, I really could not imagine that the US is so far behind in food matters, compared to England and to every other country I have visited (e.g., Thailand, China, India). Most Americans either don't cook, eat processed food, skip lunch or cook using pre-packaged ready made ingredients. They might claim they are organic and feel good about using them even if they don't taste like the real ingredients. Outside the house, they either eat greasy burgers, together with fries (or potato chips), or salads filled with unhealthy ingredients (blue cheese and bacon, to give an idea to the Italian readers), or snacks filled with sugar. Others follow the rabbit diet (e.g., two raw carrots and two raw broccoli, without condiments). I might later see these people entering the nearest Dunkin Donuts, in order to purchase their daily half a liter sugary drink and make up for the missing calories. 
Here in the US I met people who told me they grew up eating sandwiches filled with ketchup, mustard or peanut butter. Real food like meat and vegetables? Maybe twice a year (e.g., on Thanksgiving). I recently met a waitress who was impressed that my son was eating broccoli and who confessed she grew up eating half-and-half cooking cream directly from the fridge. No kidding. I bump into people with bad eating habits here on a daily basis, in restaurants, in birthday parties, in the subway. I once sat next to a guy, probably a Professor, who had a dirty spoon in his pocket, together with a bunch of pens. He took an opened can of meatballs from his backpack and started eating, straight from the can. The view of that man, who was previously working on his computer, and therefore I assume was not homeless, made me sick. No wonder Tronk has only one friend who knows how to sit at the table and eat. I met two adults who told me they didn't know how to eat until they went to Europe... So I am no longer surprised to hear "WOW" when Tronk asks for fresh fruit in a restaurant.
So I find it bizarre when the Italian parents complain about the quality of their child's school meal. Here is the typical menu: 
Yes, Italian children in school are served ragu', gnocchi, artichoke risotto and other delicious meals people (adults included) can only dream of at lunchtime, here in the US. And fruit at the end of each meal. They are given healthy, complete and balanced meals, which strictly follow the rules of what many research studies have called the healthier diet in the world. Yet many Italian parents regularly go to taste the food in the schools, to make sure it tastes as good and fresh as what they cook at home. Still, they complain.

Now, I can only imagine how a mother can feel after realizing that her son got seriously sick because he was given chicken  by his school, contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Anger, fear, despair, resentment, revenge, lack of trust, lack of hope... I don't know.

I have come to realize that the US is a third world country when it comes to food. And I don't think this will change, unless the federal lawmakers acknowledge (1) that children should be taught to have a balanced and varied diet at school (the pyramid) in order to grow strong and healthy, (2) that children should spend enough time sat at the table (not 20 minutes), every day, discovering and getting used to a variety of different tastes (e.g., acid, bitter, meat with different sauces on top), so that the new generation of Americans can learn to eat (3) and, above all, acknowledge that pizza with pepperoni (cheap sausages) does not contain vegetables and therefore cannot be listed as a vegetable in the school menu. 
Until these changes happen, I am better off waking up early to put real vegetables in Tronk's lunch box.