Let's Get Spicy: Italian Countryside Spice Blend

Welcome back to the Let's Get Spicy series! Through this series, I will introduce you to each of my small batch, hand-crafted spice blends, giving you a little bit of the history behind each blend, a story or two of how I first discovered them or what inspired them, some non-recipe-recipes for when you don't have the time or interest to get too involved in cooking, and some full-blown recipes for when you really want to dig in. Next up, my Italian Countryside Spice Blend!

The date was August 31, 2001. As a 20-year old college junior, I boarded a plane at LAX and, about 10 hours later, landed in Bologna, Italy, the city that would become my home for the next year. I was on a year-long study abroad program through the University of California Education Abroad Program, and I was READY. FOR. ADVENTURE. (Note: My apologies for the poor quality of the older photos below. Digital camera technology in 2001 was solidly not what it is today.)

Little did I know, of course, that the world would change in the blink of an eye less than two weeks later, when the terrorist attacks of 9/11 made being an American feel different, especially for those of us not physically within the borders of the United States. In the chaos of that day, the University put us on lockdown until they could fig