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.

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