Sunday, April 4, 2010

Buona Pasqua

Italy is famous for many things-the Renaissance, Caesar, Tuscan hills. No Italian attribute, though, is more famous worldwide than Italian food. Throughout the course of history Italians have invented all of the best foods there are. They created pasta, pizza, cannoli’s, and nutella. They worship food in Italy. Their daily lives are based, for the most part, on food. Italians sit down for hours to eat a single meal. I say single meal when I really mean five or six full meals lumped together into what Italians call “lunch”. They bring out course after course, steaming plate after steaming plate, and when that’s all over they start again with the desserts. When you sit down to eat you are expected to do just that: eat until you are so full that not only have you split your pants but you’ve burst through the seams of your shoes and you’ve successfully Hulkamanized the shirt you were wearing. Exactly the food eating experience I had this year for Easter.

I love Easter. What a cool holiday, seriously. Every year my mom hides my basket, overflowing with peeps and jelly beans and M&M's, and every year I wake up and hunt all over my house to find it. She always buys me a season pass to Great Adventure, paints me an egg, and gives me a solid chocolate bunny about a foot tall. My family comes over and my mom bakes her famous Easter pie; we eat together and play wiffle ball and my nieces and nephews go on an Easter egg hunt. It is a beautiful holiday. This year I celebrated my Easter differently, but it was still beautiful.

I woke up in the morning and my Italian family gave me a traditional chocolate egg. There was a little ladybug necklace inside which I adorned myself with right away. The egg was milk chocolate and tasted just as good as a bunny would. A home-cooked Easter dinner, made by my Italian mother whose cooking is nothing short of divine, sounded much better to me than another plate of pesto gnocchi in Florence. I appreciated every single minute I had with them in Pordenone. We laughed in the kitchen together and I helped my Italian mother while she baked sausage bread. It was relaxing and calm and nice. At twelve we sat down to eat Easter dinner and we didn't stop until 2. I knew when I came to Pordenone that I would be subject to five course meals, Italian style, and I absolutely was. Every single night I was stuffed full. I could have had food coming out of my ears and they would still have made me eat more.

We started Easter dinner with the seafoods. For the first time ever I tried anchovies. They were disgusting and I drank an entire glass of wine just to wash down one little piece. The next course was lasagna. I swear to God Italy is the greatest place on Earth for food. Italian homemade lasagna is probably the best thing in the whole world. Bless the good Lord for lasagna. I swear I’ll never have a serving of lasagna so exceptional again. One bite and I was reeling, lost in heaven which had been relocated into my mouth. We ate our meats and breads after that. For the first time in my life I tried lamb. It tasted like chicken. I also had chicken, which also tasted like chicken. There were roasted potatoes and we had some of that excellent bread. By this point I'm so full I feel my insides exploding, but we had another two courses to go. At this point I desperately needed a break from eating and so I let my stomach settle by washing all the food down with two glasses of Prosecco and a lot of deep breathing. Desserts were next and obviously I'm not about to miss out on this. I steeled myself for the heart attack; by now I'm sure that I'm doomed. First she brought out some cannoli's. Holy frijolies. Seriously I don't think I'll ever have anything that good again in my life. I’m a cannoli fan back home. They are a big tradition with my family on holidays. I ate each and every crumb of my cannoli and said a silent thank you prayer to God for giving me this small reminder of my traditional Easter. The next course was my Italian mom's famous Napolitano cake. Of course it was amazing. Of course it was about 7,500 calories. Of course I ate every bite.

After dinner I napped. For a solid hour. I needed to lie down and recooperate after all of that food. I spent the rest of my Easter at a volleyball match. The national women's Israel team v.s. the Suisse. The Israeli's looked like they were going to romp the Suisse; they were massive and the Suisse were teeny and pale. At first, the Israeli's did romp the Suisse. The tides changed, though. The underdogs made a comeback and it was one of the most exciting sporting events I've ever been to. Sure, I didn't get to play wiffle ball. I watched volleyball instead. I even went bowling later in the day.

My Easter this year was different but it was exactly as good as any other Easter I've ever had. Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby

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