Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pigging Out

Back in October, we openly mocked our friend, Molly, for suggesting that we go to a Truffle and Sacred Chestnut festival.  Then it turned out to be one of the most fun days in Italy.  Since that time, when someone says "There's a random festival for [insert food item here] going on this weekend, do you want to go?"  The answer is unequivically 'yes.'  This past weekend it was 'cinghiale' or wild boar.  We met up with 11 of our closest friends and hopped into various cars, driving northward to the tiny town of Dugenta. 

About an hour later we arrived.  And it was decidedly not open.  A few humorous photo shoots later and we had an open bottle of prosecco, some plastic cups, a blanket and 3 iPhones coming up with a new plan.  The reason I love our friends here is this: killing time normally takes the form of wine tasting.  With an iPhone in one hand, a glass plastic cup in the other, our good friend, Gillian, was quickly chatting with a winery and setting up a tour.  So up we drove, through vineyards and cute little towns as I squealed about my deep love of roadside produce (which I will still note, we did not procure.  Totally a missed opportunity.  Drat!  Those peaches!  They would have been lovely for the ride back.  Drat!). 

The little vineyard was adorable.  For about 20 minutes, we wandered around on a tour of the vineyard in Italian.  Now, I'm not fluent in Italian.  I won't pretend to be.  I know enough to figure out that when someone points to a huge cask and says something about it that they are probably talking about fermentation.  Then they point to bottles and say something and it probably still has to do with winemaking.  See?  I've had enough practice at this whole "drink wine at a vineyard" thing to know what comes next.  Explain your product, nod, nod some more, wait a bit, then, at long last, drink.  The wine was fairly good, for 5 Euro and a way to kill some time, it was definitely worth it.

And we were off!  Back at the festival, things were not quite as bumping as I thought they might become.  To be fair, it was the last day of the festival and 2:30 pm and a Sunday.  That's pretty prime riposo (similar to "siesta" in other countries. I have also very recently discovered that I've been saying "riposto" which is a town in Italy, NOT the afternoon rest. [Re-read above where I am very honest about not being fluent in Italian]) time in Italy, so the festival was more like a smooth jazz crowd than an electronica concert.  Regardless, there was a little menu and cinghiale (wild boar) was a star in almost every dish.  Cinghiale ravioli was probably the best, second to the Wild Boar festival caraffes of wine, of course.  They were stamped with a wild boar.  Oh stop it!  That is too darn cute!  They were 3 Euro and as the festival was winding down and they people running it had brought us more and more caraffes for free, we figured we'd take one or two for momentos.  The rules on whether 3 Euro bought you a caraffe were fuzzy.... 

Fat, dumb and happy, we piled back into the carivan of cars (with a quick and delicious gelato stop on the way back.  Mmmmmm gelato....) and back we came to Napoli!  A quiet little weekend, but still something fun nonetheless. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 236 Birthday, America!

In celebration of America's 236th day of birth, we took to the sea.  Somehow, that made sense.  Plus, it was one work day off in the middle of the week.  This seemed like the easiest plan. 

After the massive success of boating when my sister was visiting, it seemed only logical to give it a go again.  On our first boat trip, we were advised that a trip to Ischia would be too far for us on one tank of gas.  Well this time, we went for it!  And it was awesome!  As we pulled up to this island, covered in brightly colored houses, castles and vineyards, I felt the air escape from my lungs.  Holy crap, we live in Italy.  I have these revelations every once in a while, reminding myself that life has changed so much and that I should totally take advantage of each of those moments.  Something about staring at a castle which is older than the country where I'm from can just help to put things into perspective.

Floating around the bay, we relished in some creature comforts (read: juice box wine).  They have juice box wine in the US, I know.  But there's something about 1,50 Euro wine that doesn't suck that also makes me appreciate Italy.  When I took my sister to Ipercoop, our equivalent to Kroger, Food Lion, Ralph's or whatever you call a grocery store in the rest of the US, she couldn't get over the funny wine choices.  I find that it still makes me smile as I'm plopping a few boxes into my cart.  "Don't mind if I do...."  And while I'm on the subject of grocery stores, let me also touch on one other revelation: some food that I've always thought of as very American is also very European. Hot dogs, I'm looking at you. Hot dogs, or wurstle as they are called here, are HUGE! Like crazy huge. Like, there are multiple chilled display cases of them at Ipercoop. Oh, that isn't the type you like? No worries, here's 197 other varieties that you can browse. Beer flavored, cheese infused, 2 packs, 12 packs, 48 packs. How many friends do you have coming over because for sure, you can get 12 hot dogs a person if it comes to that. No buns, that's another story. Secondly, watermelon. While lemonade may not be all the rage, huge hunks of watermelon sold out of the back of 3 wheeled trucks definitely is. The problem is this: try to mentally calculate the cost in Euro and the metric system. If you can do that in your head, you are a better person than I. I take that back, you're just a better mathematician. Wouldn't want to sell myself short.

So, alas, no fireworks for us on the 4th of July.  And yet, even with all of the awesomeness of boating and juice box wine and extremely old castles, there was something about a Wonder Bread sandwich with baloney that just made me smile and think fondly of the good old U S of A.  We're heading back there in September where I fully intend to spend hours lazily wandering the aisles of Target, eating Thai food and sipping Yuengling.  Until then, from all of us on this side of the pond, hold down the fort, America.  We love you all and miss you so much.

Baci a tutti! (Kisses to all y'all!)