Friday, March 27, 2015

A rainy day off... and how I can't eat like an Italian

I shouldn't really have a glass of wine at lunch time if I want to do anything else in the afternoon but when the rain is pouring down outside and you are in a little trattoria where famous people have occasionally eaten - so it is said - then it's a bit hard not to have a glass along with a plate of  mushed up beans and some dark green vegetable.
I think the dish is called fave e verdure (beans and veg) . It loses something in the translation it is true but it tastes really good and I get to feel like I am doing a good thing for myself by  choosing this. Not that I exactly chose it- more agreed with the waitress/owner's recommendation. It's a complicated situation
Eating out in Italy has almost always led to me feeling like I am a sad failure.
And today was no different.
I don't know what it's like in other parts of Italy but down where we are lunches are big- in general.
Theoretically one would begin with antipasti which could include up to a dozen different small dishes. It could be vegetables, hams, cheeses, fish- lots of variations and I love antipasti because trying lots of different things is great- like a buffet. But that is only the first course so I rarely have antipasti because its too embarrassing  to finish with the starter.
Then there is the primo  ( first course) That would be pasta or rice and something. I love this course too. one of my favourites is pasta arrabiata  which I once saw translated as "pasta to the angry"   Its really hot and spicy and makes me laugh when I remember the name.  Or lasagne is one of the primo dishes. I had a very delicious  pasta course last week in Scanzano with sausage and various other things. In this restaurant they have a gorgeous selection of antipasti which you help yourself to, but I have to decide which course to have as I have tried to eat both but I just can't. At least in this particular restaurant they know us and are resigned to the fact that we don't eat "right".
Then there is the secondo. That is usually meat, or fish served on its own so you need to order separately a salad or patatine fritte.(chips)  Sometimes this looks so delicious . There might be a choice of meats or sausages or various types of fish. I have once had  a secondo- while missing out antipasti and the pasta course.
Then there is a sweet course. And Italian sweets are wonderful.
That would be followed by coffee and a digestivo.( like limoncello or amaro lucano or grappa)
And that is a sort of basic meal- all of that!
Scottish friends, visiting ,went to Aliano to see the town where Carlo Levi lived and when they asked if there was anywhere to eat they were shown to a back street and ushered into a large room where it looked like half the town was dining. There was no menu. And there were nine courses. I have always wanted to visit Aliano but I was glad to have missed this.
I am reading the Inspector Montalbano mysteries just now and food is so important in these stories.
Everybody here talks about food. Hearing teenagers in a supermarket discussing what they are having for lunch and how it is being cooked is so strange...
So back to the trattoria in Bernalda where the lovely lady who served us was so nice and offered us so many lovely dishes and I hated to disappoint her but ...... I just can't eat like an Italian.

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