I have so much to say that I have nothing to say.

Do you know that feeling when you’re with a friend who you haven’t seen for a long time, and you just don’t know where to start? You want to perform a feat of magic– bundle up three months into something articulate. Meaningful, but not boring. Inclusive, but not exhaustive. You want to give a real sense of what has gone on in your life. But sometimes it’s best to skip ahead and just order another round of drinks. There are plenty of things happening right now worth sharing.

I want to tell you more about my experience with the Rome Sustainable Food Project. The internship seriously altered my ideas about cooking and eating, as well as my perception of the American Academy. It would be much easier to, say, write about my upcoming trip to Sicily (I leave on Thursday and am over-the-moon excited), but I have unfinished business here. I have stories to tell! Good ones, some funny ones, a couple bad ones, plus a lot more recipes to share.

So, let’s start with a deep, dark confession: I almost didn’t accept the internship. I almost said no.

I was scared.

I applied for the winter internship in early September, before I came to the Academy. During the first few weeks after my arrival, I felt like a starstruck fan. I’d step up to the lunch buffet and marvel at how gorgeous the composed salads were, how perfect the pasta, and how expertly the kitchen staff ferried new dishes in and cleared the old ones out. Everything was seamless. At dinner the food was even more show-stopping. Three-course meals by candlelight in the outdoor courtyard. Baked ricotta with wild herbs and pickled beets. Pappardelle with wild boar ragù. A rosemary pine nut tart. I was in awe of the food, therefore intimidated by the people making it. Instead of stepping inside the kitchen and introducing myself, I hung back. I started to ignore the fact that I’d applied for the RSFP internship, as getting it seemed like a long shot. I was also occupied by the whirlwind of Academy life, and, you know… Rome. The weeks went by, the food continued to wow me, and then one day I received an email.

Spotted this graffiti the day after my internship ended. Kinda says it all.

Spotted this graffiti the day after my internship ended. Kinda says it all.

The message was from the manager of the RSFP, Laura, inviting me to meet with her and the head chef. Our conversation went something like this (and of course I’m paraphrasing):

Chef: The internship is really hard work.

Me: {nodding enthusiastically}

Laura: Does your husband understand you’ll never see him?

Me: I think so. I’ll check.

Chef: But it might be the best thing you’ve ever done.

I left the meeting feeling charged with excitement. The internship was mine if I accepted. This experience I wasn’t sure I’d have was there for the taking… so why didn’t I just say yes? Herein lies the guilty confession: I was reluctant to give up the life I’d finally adjusted to. And I didn’t feel up for another change (a common theme, you may have noticed). But a nagging feeling lingered. A voice  that annoyingly asked, If you’re scared of something, doesn’t that mean it’s a thing worth doing?

Goddamn it, the voice was right.

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