For Mother’s Day weekend we drove to the country to see this:
We stayed on an organic farm, in an old stone house:
which is this:
where they gave us this menu for lunch:
Now in most places (or at least places I have been) you would order one from each section, making a full meal. I tried in vain to do just that, but after some very funny Italian and finally switching to English, I was made to understand that no, there would be no ordering. This is what we will be eating, what is being served. All of it.
So they brought this:
then they brought this:
and then 2 big bowls containing some of this <– and some of that –>:
and then it was on to this:
and, of course, you can’t have that without this:
and always this:
to which we did that:
and it all ended with this:
to go with that:
and after all that, well, we felt like this:
so my husband needed to do this:
while I had to do that:
We told them we’d skip dinner.
This is a marocchino. It’s dark chocolate melted into a cup, then filled with lots of espresso, a little foamed milk, and topped off with more chocolate.
The first time I had it I thought, “Oh. This must be what it’s like to have speed injected directly into your eyeball.”
I’m not addicted at all.
I was wondering today, as I drank my fourth cup of espresso and felt my heart pounding in my toes, how the Italians do it. Espresso, vino, molta pasta tutto giorno! And then I realized the progression, the procession, that is a must to live the Italian way. Shunning pasta in favor of grilled salmon, I inadvertently stepped out of the line and thus stand struggling on the sidelines. For this is how, I think, it must go:
You wake and have an espresso (or 5) with your sweet creamy biscotti and race through your morning. By the time you get to lunch you have collapsed and soothe your soul in a big bowl of spaghetti, washed down with a glass (or 5) of wine. By now you are very tired and must rest, thus siesta. When it comes time to reengage with life around you, you must, of course, drink more espresso. You now race into the night where if you want to sleep at all you will need to come back down and how do you do that? You are right, more pasta and vino. You sleep (pass out) and upon awaking your body needs some help to get going so repeat cycle. Therefore, if I want to drink copious amounts of caffeine (oh the coffee here is good), or a couple (5) glasses of wine (the wine is even better), I guess I must forgo the grilled salmon and jump back into that bowl of pasta. Because when in Rome….
Italians love their sweets. For breakfast it’s always, always dolce. You cannot find a plain croissant in Rome. Most are stuffed with jam or custard, and if you ask for a plain one it’s been glazed with sugar, because why would you eat it otherwise? And for treats throughout the day? Well, of course, more dolce. At my daughter’s school we’ve been battling this part of the culture. I sucked it up as long as I could, biting my lip and tongue as I watched them giving her cocoa puffs in chocolate milk and cookies dipped in Nutella every single day of the week. The flood gates opened, however, when I came to pick her up and watched her having her first soda. At 3! I explained to the teachers that while I want to respect how things are done here, motherhood (and values) must come before cultural integration and this mom would like her daughter to have a more nutritious snack. After much negotiation they allowed me to bring in rice cakes and fruit for her. But unfortunately, I was not clear enough, and the next time I came to school during snack time I frustratingly watched them dipping the banana in jelly. When I explained again that no, please, just give it to her plain, they looked at me completely blank, as if the cultural divide was just too great to even comprehend, and then they looked at my poor little one with such pity for her deprivation. For in Italy there are 3 food groups: pizza, pasta, and dolce; sugar, sugar, and sugar. Of course, I write all this with a stash of chocolate in my drawer and a glass of wine in my hand.