Monday, May 4, 2015


"Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch 'intrate"
(Abandon all hope, you who enter here)

                                                                         -Dante Aligheri, The Inferno 

Our Neighborhood

 Well, at least abandon all hope of getting things accomplished for the rest of the day. Italians take lunch very seriously, no grabbing a sandwich on the run this day. Our neighbor, Annmarie, was leaving for a time and decided to have an "informal" grill for a few friends. ( then why is that woman wearing Prada?)

A View Of The Garden

We were about twenty, all told, Italians, Americans and a sprinkling of Danes. As is was a warm afternoon we were to dine in the garden.

Wednesday, 1:00 pm.

The lunch begins at one o'clock, or should I say the prosecco  is poured then. There is a competition to see if one can pop the cork over the theatre building. ( They say it has been done, but I have my doubts.)  In the garden, tables are laden with bruschetta con affumicato ( smoked salmon toasts) amongst other bites. Guests start arriving in staggered groups, most more or less late ( Americans are always on time).  Introductions are made, more prosecco is poured. " James, do you prefer whiskey?", I am asked, "No, grazie."

PRIMI ( first course)

Ceci Soup

We finally sit down for the first course, Zuppa di Ceci ( chikpea soup) and another primi, Risotto con Radicchio ( rice with chickory). No pasta, but that's O.K., I'm already stuffed..........more prosecco?
Perhaps some red wine?

SECONDI ( main course)

From the Grill

The 'grill' comes out, salsicce, e costoletto maiale ( grilled sausage and pork chops). These are meant to be separately, followed by the vegetables, but everybody just piles their plate full. Italians are not afraid of food and you are never asked if you have any type of food prohibitions.

If you can still breath, next comes the fruit and cheeses. If your glass is empty, not to worry, it will be filled. Thankfully, there is water.

There is much conversation and laughter, we are expected to change seats again and again. I don't mind , it gives me a chance to butcher my Italian to new ears, Oh, but wait! There's dessert? Tiramisu? I can't...the plate is put down in front of you.
As we start the goodbyes I glance at my watch.
It's 4:30 pm.

Photos courtesy Stew Vreeland

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