Friday, November 04, 2005

allora, alloro

today was a laurea day, a graduation day for students recently finishing their theses. graduations occur continuously here, not just at the end of semesters or the big chaos in may. so every so often a big group is scheduled to defend their theses -- an undergraduate degree requires a written thesis paper after students complete oral exams. families come to see their kids pass from students into the ranks of the unemployed, bands of friends gather to sing and chant laurea cheers in the streets outside the faculties, new dottori and dottoresse and ingenieri ecc. parade around in their laurel crowns to their graduation parties in cafes and restaurants nearby.
the laurel crown is a fantastic tradition, fat wreaths of bay leaves wound with ribbons that signify the course of study. of course, the tradition is handed down from the romans, who crowned with bay laurel their victorious conquerers, emperors, notable poets, athletes, and other overachievers. from the laurel crown we get words like laureate, the phrase "resting on one's laurels", and of course, the names Lawrence, Lauren, Laura, ecc. names perhaps overburdened with expectations. or read another way, names given by parents so excited with a new child that they designate her as a VIP from birth.
bay as a culinary herb is strong, aromatic. it has a green and woody perfume, suggestive of ancient forests. bay is not a flashy herb but an undertone, a leaf simmered in milk for bechamel, perhaps two in a broth. alloro in italian.

when I see the newly laureati in their crowns, I can't help but smile. they're fragrant and liberated from the stress of showdowns with professors, applauded by friends and family. I steal a little of that energy for myself, it's my herb afterall, I'm the namesake.


Blogger mcbickle said...

this namesake remembers the unpleasantry (unpleasantness, badness, whatev) of graduates parading through the streets of venezia, drunk, with shaving cream being sprayed perilously recklessly, aware that a tradition in that city involves jumping into the canals. the filthy, dead-body-strewn green stew of the canals. (dead bodies in my imagination, at the very least...)
not to rain on the bolognese parade. sounds lovely there.

November 05, 2005  

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