Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Last Supper

LThe last night in Florence, we had dinner at our favorite restaurant. What was special about this place was not so much that the food was exquisite, and the service prompt, but when we dined there, we felt welcome. In the last 4 years, I've been to Europe four times, and each time I go, I feel a little more anxious, a little less inclined to tell people where I'm from. This trip, I even considered buying a T-shirt with a big maple leaf on the front, so that no one would think I was an American. It's not like I'm ashamed of my country, I'm just not too proud of what we've become in recent years. In particular, I was really sensitive about our lack of concern for our own citizens in the recent disaster in the Gulf, and that the world had witnessed it on CNN. In the other Gulf, I was ashamed at our invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the shame of looting and torture. I figure that as a citizen of this country, I must shoulder the blame for these things, even though I am powerless to stop them, and I reason that some of the rude looks I get when I'm traveling are justified. I still travel, because it's my passion, I love to experience cultures and history, oh and I also love the food.

In my favorite restaurant, we were greeted like old friends in spite of the two years of separation, regardless of the two different languages and cultures. I was even given a recipe of the house special, Gnudi, a spinach and ricotta dumpling unlike anything I've tasted anywhere. Somewhere after dessert, the staff took me back in the kitchen where they gave me a hands on demo on how to prepare the lovely little things. Soon after I proudly emerged from the kitchen with my tiny little spinach dumpling on my plate, the bottle of Lemoncello was placed on the table. We partied hard, we of different cultures, different languages, both countries guilty of poor judgment and war crimes, one country that will be able to just pull up and leave, the other mired in a disaster of it's own making.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip. And I will miss Italy and my friends. My hope is that the regular people who feel powerless to stop the mistakes of those who have power will prevail, and the citizens of all the world will be able to share the beauty of all cultures over a great meal and a chilled bottle of Lemoncello.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Food For The Soul

As one who continues to search for spirituality, I find a lot of comfort in the things of the body, rather than the things of the soul. Maybe that's my problem. My thinking is, "If it Tastes Good, Eat It", and I seldom worry about fat grams until the dessert is already winding it's way through my digestive system.

This dessert is only available in one restaurant in Florence. It's called Panna Cotta. You can find variations in just about every restaurant in Tuscany, but to experience the mouth watering Divine sensation of Panna Cotta at it's supreme excellence, you have to go to I'Toscono on Via Guelfa in Florence. There is no other dessert like it.

And the waitresses are totally hot.

My Italian Paradise

Have you ever traveled to a place too beautiful for words? Cinque Terra is like that, the feeling you get from entering these five lovely towns is one of unreality, like you had walked onto a movie set. I'm not talented enough in my writing skills to describe the beauty of Cinque Terra, for that maybe poetry is appropriate. I'm just here to say that if you ever get the chance to see Cinque Terra, take it, it is one of the most lovely places in all of creation.