Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Wild & Lonely Salad of Italy

And while we’re on the subject of food…

Our diet in Italy revolved mainly around the four major food groups: pizza, pasta, watermelon, and gelato. There was the occasional tomato and mozzarella salad, and bread, plenty of bread. And coffee. The kind that spoons stand up in. But other than that, well, let’s just say the carbs were flying and I am paying for it now! Re-entry diet is almost as painful as jetlag, but lasts longer!

A steady diet of only four items creates some interesting dinner conversation: one evening as we were discussing our ability to eat yet another slice of watermelon (with the table evenly divided between “Bring it on!” and “Have mercy!”), the kitchen crew surprised us with a sort of ball of Nutella, chilled into a chewable consistency, and held together by cornflakes.

“Breakfast!” Meri squealed, as I passed her the platter. “Creativity!” I responded. “Camp dining at its finest!”

Another memorable moment came in the pizzeria in Teramo, when Jeff and Meri could be overheard to discuss the flora on their pizza:

Jeff: “What’s this on the pizza? I thought it was spinach.”
Meri: “It’s rugala.”
Jeff: “What’s rugala?”
Meri: “Rugala is rugala.
Jeff (more insistently): “What’s rugala?”
Meri: “Salad.”
Jeff: “Salad?!”
Meri: “Yes, rugula is salad!”
Jeff: “What kind of salad?”
Meri: “Salad!”
Antonella: “The wild and lonely salad of Italy…grown without the help of a man.”

Pizza! Sometimes it’s plain, sometimes it’s loaded with olives, pepperoni, potatoes or rugala. Sometimes there‘s nothing on it at all, just plain bread, brushed with olive oil. We wondered if we could stuff it with something, perhaps…watermelon! Meri declared her intention to launch the new, the first of its kind, in Finland: watermelon pizza...

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