Italy in Oklahoma, Go Sooners!!!

I just came back from three days in Oklahoma where I was participating in “Italy Week 2011.” Italy week consisted of a number of wonderful events including a gala dinner where I did a Tuscan wine tasting paired with Italian cheeses. The cheese monger, Bailey Schreier of Forward Foods, made me want to move to Norman, Oklahoma just to take classes with her, she was that good.

We tasted a Chianti, Poggio Vignoso from Fattoria Bibbiani, the IGT Rosso from Avignonesi and Pian di Nova from Il Borro. The group enjoyed all three, especially when trying them with cheese. As always, Italian wines showed their best when paired with food, thanks to their acidity and tannic structure.

The wines were supplied by The Spirits Shop in Norman. They had an amazing collection of international and American wines. In terms of Italian wines, it was a perfect place to go to look for interesting stuff at good prices. Also, they were really nice and told me a lot about Oklahoma’s four-tier system.

As if finding two great stores to buy two of my favorite items, food and wine, weren’t enough to make me happy, I also got to spend a few days with a bright, interesting and Italian centric group of people. How did I come to go to Oklahoma? Well two dear friends of mine work at the University and the three of us went to graduate school together, where? In Italy of course, at SAIS in Bologna.

The Italian department at Oklahoma University in Norman has a number of very interesting professors, focused on various areas of Italian culture, literature and history. It was great to see such fervor towards all things Italian in a different area of the country. OU also has a great program in Italy, in Arezzo, a city I love.

You can’t really have an experience at OU without commenting on their football stadium. I have never seen such a big and beautiful place.

Today the Sooners are playing the Aggies (Texas A&M). Of course, I’m rooting for the Sooners. They are playing as I write this but no one has scored yet…

Before, I end this post however, I want to mention two things: one is how wonderful it is to see old friends and be able to jump right in with conversations and ideas as if you were with them yesterday. That made me very happy, as did their lovely children, human and furry.

The other topic I must mention is the Oklahoma bombing. My friend, Zach, took me to see the memorial the minute I got off the plane. He knows me and he knows that it would be important to bear witness to that tragedy. I worked as an intern at CNN during that year, 1995. He also worked there at that time on one of the daily programs. I was in the office actually, the day of the bombing, April 19, 1995. I will never forget the horror that day and all of those people and those children.

The memorial is incredibly touching with empty chairs, symbolizing those lost. As a New Yorker and after 9/11, I am loathe to take pictures at these sites although I did take one of the wall that frames the memorial. This terrorist attack on American soil should be remembered, especially at a moment of such political strife in our great nation.

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