When I arrived to Italy for the first time I was tired, and I mean beyond the normal jet lag tired. I hadn’t slept in over 27 hours, but something about the excitement of visiting the country of my love made me awaken with eyes wide open to the noise, the smell, the vibrancy that I had forgotten could exist in the world.
I am a Utahn born and raised and have rarely ventured out of “brown” colored dessert states. We were dropped off on a side street in Rome and in a whirlwind of events my husband whisked me away along the cobblestone streets and started explaining everything and anything.
I longed for my first taste of “real pizza” but it was not the hour for anything of the sort–everything was closed because of la chiusura pomeridiana (the after lunch resting time). We stopped at a bar that had some left over pizza al taglio (pizza served by the slice–a fabulous fast food that should exist everywhere in my opinion) The pizza was dry and over priced, but it had i fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers) on it, and for me, I was content to have had pizza as part of my cuisine inauguration ceremony in Rome :).
Rome was overwhelmingly majestic. My ill fortune has always been the small amount of time I have to spend there. I usually get hours, not days to explore and they are always rushed. We visited a few important landmarks and although we only nibbled the antipasti of Rome’s grandeur I fell in love with her and with my husband even more. LUI (HE) came from this amazing country with such a rich history, and culture. No wonder he is so colorful, energetic, fun, and full of life!
We were tired, hungry, and so we decided to go to un salumiere (a deli shop) that sells prosciutto (thinly sliced cured pork) and other cured meats right next to the pantheon and that is where I had my second taste of Italy. A simple panino (sandwich). It was so good I had to take a picture. We shared, a bite for him, a bite for me and each time I passed the panino to him I closed my eyes and literally fell asleep in front of the Pantheon!!! What in the world?! Who falls asleep in front of the pantheon? Me. Mangiando (eating) a panino that is to die for. That is how stanca (tired) I was. So we decided it was time to head home.
We arrived home around 10PM to this scene:
Now for an American, 10pm is a bit late to eat, but these guys had made pizza for us, pasta with shrimp, and not only that, but were waiting eagerly to meet me and share with us all of their food! They waited to eat with us! Who does that?! Italians do! And so we sat down and I had my third taste in Italy, Spaghetti aglio e olio con i gamberi (spaghetti with sauted garlic and shrimp) the first meal my love made for me ever–post coming soon. IT WAS AMAZING! I ate at least three helpings, Mr. Petrucci (my love) told me I could stop when I wanted, he thought I was being polite, but I wasn’t, I was being golosa (glutonous). Then he mentioned that more courses were to follow. I then had a lesson on how to say I am full thank you, sono piena, grazie (I am full) or sono sazia (I am satisfied). I actually had to use sono piena very frequently with my mother-in-law with hand gestures up to my head throughout the entire trip. She sure loves feeding you, it is her way of saying I love you!
As I am typing this I am reliving this moment and it was such a funny and delicious and heartwarming and confusing and surreal moment! We were up until 1am eating, laughing, talking. The entire time, my niece sat next to me, a 6 year old, and her uncle continued to tell her “mangia bimba, mangia!” (eat, idiot, eat) As he did this I got more and more confused and upset. I couldn’t believe that it was okay! The next day I mentioned this to my husband and he laughed and said, “bimba” in Italian is short for bambina (little girl). So he was saying, “Eat, little one, eat!” Oh boy did I have a lot to learn!
So For all of you out there, when in Rome, do as the Romans, find the little salumiere next to the pantheon, enter it and purchase your prosciutto and some fresh bread and eat a panino. Purchase pizza al taglio and eat it standing up, there where you purchase it, or right outside–and be brave, purchase one with potatoes or zucchini flowers! Beware of eating too much that first course, remember there are usually second and possibly third courses, then salad and fruit and sometimes dessert. And if all else fails, learn key words so you don’t think your uncle is harsh and you can bale out on overeating if needed!
Until next time,