All posts by Alessandro Zocca

France and Italy…again, eating together!

Last Saturday I met again with Camille and Audrey at their place in TOAS City, and…. we ate together, again, as usual!

They prepared some meat-tomato and cheese stuffed zucchini, I was expecting a similar thing that my mother does down in Italy, which means pretty small zucchini with a hole in the middle where the stuffing goes, but the girls surprised me with a “king-size” version of those zucchini and even if I wasn’t really hungry, i really enjoyed it!

While eating the dessert, I got to learn the real name of the world-famous French Toast which is Pain perdu! The real meaning of the words means Lost bread, in fact about three slices of it got lost into my stomach!!  In Italian it would be Pane perso or Pane perduto, but in my region we write bread and also pronounce it as they do in France: Pan. It was a calorie bomb but really good indeed!

While eating I asked them how was their trip to Lapland, and they said that they visited Rovaniemi and Levi and they really enjoy it, even if they weren’t able to see any Northern lights due to the clouds.  We talked about holidays in our countries and we found out that we have a lot of similarities since both countries are christians we both have Christmas holidays; we also celebrate Carnival in February and Eastern 40 days after Carnival, the 1st of May is labour day  as in many other countries and also the 1st of November we both honour dead people.

Still there are some differences between France & Italy, for example they celebrate the end of the Second World War on the 8th of May while we celebrate the “liberation” from the Nazi-Fascism on the 25th of April; In Italy we celebrate the Republic Day on the 2nd of June while in France they have National Day on the 14th of July and also on the 11th of November they celebrate the Armistice and so the end of the First World War.

On the 15th of August in both countries is a holiday since, as already said above, both are christian countries and is the day of the Assumption of the mother of Jesus, Mary. The name of this festivity in Italy is Ferragosto, or in Latin Feriae Augusti, because it actually started from a Pagan-festivity in the Roman empire when the emperor Gaius Iulius Octavianus Augustus in the 21 b.c. establish different festivities for the whole month of August, were all the workers in general could enjoy the end of the work in the fields and the Emperor was donating food to the whole population of Rome. This is an example of one of the stolen and modified festivities that christians took from pre-christian religions all around Europe, but this is a bigger topic that would take the whole blog space so, I’ll stop it here…

I really liked to get to know and also thank  Audrey and Camille because with their help, I got to understand how close our cultures are, I think that in the future I could take part to some French course in order to improve what they taught me during this period!

9th EoTo Meeting…

Yesterday evening Audrey and Camille came by to eat something together.

I prepared them some spaghetti in a cream, speck and zucchine sauce, easy stuffs.  After the main meal, I offered them some cheeses like Grana Padano, Cheddar, Pecorino Toscano and some Mozzarelle and we enjoyed it with some onion-marmalade and some pear&truffle-mustard which is freaking awesome with cheeses, especially with the strong tasted ones like the Grana/Parmigiano. We were talking about Italian and French music and we realized that, most of the singers that are famous in our respective countries and also abroad, like for example Eros Ramazzotti, are not really famous in France or in Italy.

After talking about music, we discussed a bit about art and since I don’t actually know really good Italian artists that are still…alive, I just helped myself by listing the most famous from the renaissance era like Alessandro Botticelli, Michelangelo Buonarrotti, Caravaggio, Raffaello Sanzio, Giotto, Donatello and Leonardo Da Vinci, yes the one who painted the “Gioconda” which is the real name of the Mona Lisa exposed at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

While eating the cheeses we also talked about the different cheeses of the two countries try to find similarities and differences, since December is coming soon we also talked about the food and sweets that we eat during the winter holidays. One of the main dessert looks like a Yule Log and it is basically the same in France and in Italy, the names are respectively Bûche de Noel and Tronchetto di Natale, than I listed the other two most famous Italian winter desserts which are Panettone, a sort of brioche bread cake filled with candied fruits inside; and the second is the Pandoro which is a sweet brioche bread cake that it is eaten with an eggnog cream and it is actually from my city, Verona.

Another interesting one that I never saw before was the Ile flottante that Camille described me as one of the best desserts.  Right now I would like to taste and also try to do myself!

I usually don’t like a lot to bake desserts since cakes are a bit more difficult to do than normal cooking, but after last evening I would like to try to bake some of those French desserts.

Italian movie and Cinema…

A couple of day after we watched some French movies and talked about French actors/cinema; we met and decided to do the same kind of thing about Italian cinema.  Most of the “well-known abroad” Italian movies are unfortunately quite old, that old that I never saw some of them; so imagine how old it could be for my French friends that are even younger than me…

Like Camille and Audrey did in the previous meeting, I started talking about some actors famous outside of the Italian borders, like for example Roberto Benigni who acted in his own movie Life is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella!), Sophia Loren, who between the 50’ and the beginning of the 90’ acted not only in Italian movies but also in Hollywood and also she won several Oscars, Golden globes, the Prix d’interprétation feminine (prize for best female interpretation) at Cannes festival and also one BAFTA Prize and several national prises in Italy. Than I mentioned some Italo-American actors like Robert De Niro or John Turturro etc.

Afterwards we watched a movie called “Quo Vado?” a movie that a couple of years ago was able to reach the huge amount of 65,3 billion Euro in earnings in just one month and a half of presence in theatres.

The movie is somehow joking about the global crisis, that in Italy started to affect even the people working under the government, since even there, in order to save money, some cuts had to be done.  Checco Zalone is the art-name of this Italian comic guy who is acting in as the main character in the movie. He is a guy that since childhood wanted to be like is dad, and work under the government in a town hall or so.  In order to let him leave is job, they propose him to take a 35 thousand Euro before, and 50 thousand Euro later as a buy-out but since he wasn’t accepting it, he is sent all around Italy, to work for other governmental institute etc. for small period of times, but still Checco is enjoying this experience and just collecting different type of food and booze from the place he visited to the governmental agent who was trying to fire him.

To force him to take the buy-out, Checco is finally sent to Norway, but instead of hating the place due to the cold weather and cultural differences between the Scandinavia country and the South of Italy; he fell in love with a workmate, who is a scientist, and started to appreciate the place and stop missing Italy.

In the end he got married with his workmate and they even got a kid, while living in another exotic country in the middle of Africa.

After we watched some clips of a movie called Una moglie bellissima. It is practically the twin movie of the French movie Camping we watched a couple of days before.

I enjoyed this meeting, it was a bit challenging but still really nice to translate for the girls diring the screening.

French movie’s evening!

Last time we met with Audrey and Camille, we decided to watch some French movies, or at least we tried!

The girls started searching on the internet for a movie named: Camping ; set in the south of France on the sea obviously (like most of the camping in southern Europe); where a bunch of friends couples use to go for the summer holidays and meet with the other couples while enjoying the holidays together. During the staying, the friends are having different “adventures”, problems, they are gossiping etc. It was nice, and a bit weird at the same time, to see that in Italy we have a movie which is almost the same movie as Camping, same kind of story and so on…

Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon dieu? Is the second movie that we tried to watch, the problem is that we couldn’t find any link (legal and also not-so-legal) to watch it, so we just watch the trailer and a small clip from YouTube. The movie talks about a catholic family formed by the parents and four daughters, were each one of them is in a relationship with a guy from a different religious background and so the parents are a bit worried about the situation but they are going through it in a funny way…

After this movie we watched a cartoon that the girls were watching when they were young, The name is Oui Oui! I think that cartoons for young kids are the easiest way to learn a new language, since the language is not really articulated and complex and for beginners is a good way to go!

We also talked about some French actors, and when the girls asked me who do I remember, I just said Gerard Depardieu, just because I didn’t remember others, but actually sometimes I have problem to remember Italian ones too, since most of the movie I watch are from the States… I forgot Sophie Marceau, Jean Reno or Brigitte Bardot etc…  But I knew that the Lumière brothers invented the cinema in the end of the 19th century.

Next time we’ll have the same kind of meeting, but about Italian movies and cinema..

Similarities in French & Italian vocabulary.

The Each one teach one meeting we had the last week felt a lot more like a school lesson… Maybe the main reason for that was the location, since we were at TAMK or maybe because we were: listening, repeating, writing down and so on… In a nutshell, learning in the way that people usually do at school.

This doesn’t mean that the learning process during this meeting was not fun, because at least for me, but i bet even for my “team-mates” Audrey and Camille, learning a language that interests you, is usually a lot more enjoyable that learning something else that maybe you have to learn just for the aim of getting some credits from the course.

The similarities between our two languages are in ” a stable situation”; with this I mean that they are not increasing or decreasing since a lot of words or verbs are similar or even written in the same way, but the pronunciation in French is totally different from Italian so sometimes it was quite tricky to try to guess how to pronounce a word and I had to ask help or corrections from my friends.


In my opinion we are learning quite a bit during our meetings, maybe for the next one we will try to focus on more practical things like some basic phrases that could help us for example during our travels to France or Italy respectively!

Eating Crēpes at “TOAS City Restaurant”!

Last Tuesday we met with my group was in the city centre at TOAS City, were Audrey and Camille live for their exchange period. This was my second time entering in the building, since I went there for the first time last winter for a pre-party with some fellow students.

The girls were a bit upset because the kitchen they have at TOAS is really basic and also they weren’t able to find some type of flour that they would have needed to do salty crepes, but still they decided to try with normal flour from the local shop. All my family speaks french and two of my sisters have been living for a little while in France, so crepes are maybe the most well known French-dessert for me, or at least the one I enjoy the most!

Audrey cooked for us some salty crepes, and we stuffed ’em with tomatoes, cheese, goat cheese, apple and honey. The honey and cheese combination is something really well known around Italy and France too, I guess, but still i never eat it inside a crepe!

For dessert, Camille cooked for the whole group some sweet crepes and some fillings like caramelised apples etc. We ate one of the most well know combination all around the world, Crepes & Nutella so still France & Italy, just to take the all Each one teach one project to another level.  A new combination that the girls served me was the crepes suzette which is a normal sweet crepe, filled just with sugar and lime juice; this was my first time trying it and even if it wasn’t bad at all and I always enjoy trying new types of good food, I think I will stick to the basic Nutella one.

We didn’t talk a lot about one of our languages in this meeting, that’s why we will do it next time at school, when we’ll talk about some other basics in Italian and maybe some grammar too.

Last week meeting at the… Boutique!

On the last weekend I met again with my EOTO group; this time we met in front of H&M in the city centre mainly because we were planning to learn some clothing vocabulary. We thought that H&M could have be the best option since they have almost every kind of clothes and so it was.

Here are some example of what we learned last Saturday, this time i decided to list just some of the words that are almost the same in our languages…

English Italian French
Tie Cravatta Cravatte
Gloves Guanti Gants
Shirt Camicia Chemise
Pants Pantaloni Pantalon
Belt Cintura Ceinture
Bow tie Papillon Nœud papillon

Again we all found out that the similarities between our languages are quite a lot, in fact some words are almost the same in both languages, also we planned the next meeting, which is actually this evening, where we will eat together, again, but this time something french

Feeding my new French friends!

Yesterday evening we met with my group at my place, for this meeting we already planned ahead to eat together some Italian food and at the same time talk about Italian cuisine.

Before to start studying at TAMK I took a cooking course back in Italy and before & after that I worked, for shorts periods, as an assistant chef in various restaurants and ice-cream shops around the world, so I was ready for the challenge of cooking for French people, because as most people knows Italy and France are top of the class when talking about food, obviously wine, cooking in general and baking desserts too.

I planned to serve them some good but still on a budget food even if, actually, most of Italian cuisine is made by ingredients that are not expensive, really simple but full of flavour without the need of spices or so.

I bought some egg-pasta and I served them in a Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts sauce, as I said before easy but at the same time full of flavour.

As second dish the process became even easier, I just sliced some salame that I got two weeks ago when I was at my parents place in Italy, I served it with some more cheese, from Italy too and also with a typical “winter food” which has its origin from the north of Italy, the Polenta: basically a sort of cream made with boiled corn.

For dessert, I made some Tiramisù, yes, the world famous Italian dessert, this one too it’s quite easy to make since it is just eggs, sugar, mascarpone, Italian sponge-biscuits, espresso and cacao powder.  I’m glad that Camille and Audrey liked it, even if I got a bit over the limit with the cacao-powder on the top of it!

I was really happy after this meeting we had, since it is known that French people knows what is good food, and receiving a positive feedback from them was really a pleasure.

Next time… French foooooood!!!

Bonjour, comment ça va?

Yesterday, in the late afternoon, I had my first meeting with my Each One teach One group; the reason why we didn’t have before it’s because I was on holiday in Italy for a while and even if we planned to do a video-meeting during that period, it wasn’t really possible due to the fact that I was travelling around the Italian Alps and the internet connection could be jerky up there!

Anyway, my group is formed by myself, obviously, Camille and Audrey; I’m going to teach Italian to them and they will teach me French.

We met in front of the bar Public Corner in Keskustori, since we were planning to take something to drink there and the girls were planning to seat outside to enjoy the super-warm Finnish autumn! The only problem was that the outside terrace of this bar was already gone so we moved to the Café inside the Sokos’ building.

We started talking about random things like school etc. and after we finished to drink we moved to the supermarket in the basement of Sokos.

There we started to learn something new by searching for differences and similarities in between our languages and since they are really close to each other, I think that “learning process” will be downhill!

Here in the table below there are some of the words that we learned during this meeting and after that we realised that probably for us, the most weird language is English, because why do you have to call it Pineapple when even in Finland they call it Ananas? …it doesn’t even look like an apple!

English Italian French
A supermarket Un supermercato Un supermarché
  Fruits:   Frutta:   Fruits:
Banana Banana Banane
watermelon Anguria Pastèque
Peach Pesca Pèche
Melon Melone Melon
Pineapple Ananas Ananas
Apricot Albicocca Abricot
Lemon Limone Citron
Tomato Pomodoro Tomate
Apple Mela / Pomo Pom
  Vegetables:   Verdura / Legumi: Légumes:
Zuchini Zucchine Courgette
Eggplant Melanzana Aubergine
Potato Patata Pomme de terre
Pumpkin Zucca Citrouille
Carot Carota Carotte
Broccoli Broccoli Brocoli
Salad Insalata Salade
Cauliflower Cavolfiore Chou-fleur
Chips Patatine Chips
Cheese Formaggio Fromage
Meat Carne Viande
Chicken Pollo Poulet
Miced meat Carne macinata Viande hachée
Ham Prosciutto Jambon
Turkey Tacchino Dinde
Fish Pesce Poisson
Check-out Cassa Caisse
Salt Sale Sel
Sugar Zucchero Sucre
Pepper Pepe Poivre
Soap Sapone Savon
Body spray Deodorante Déodorant

As a reflection on the outcome of the first meeting, I had with Camille and Audrey, I can say that it was kind of fun and really chill but at the same time, even if this is just the beginning, I got to know how really close our languages are; I even realised that some words in my home-city dialect sounds or are also written like they do in French which it’s a bit weird but at the same time really nice and it probably will make the whole process a lot easier that  it already is.

For the next meeting we will probably make some Italian food, at my place since even my girlfriend is learning Italian and so sometimes I’ll have to jump between four languages: English, French, Italian and Finnish! …Piece of cake!