Marcy in Venice
I took my first Sunflower Journey to
Calm before the storm-moments later Gondolier rage began
Marcy in gondola
Nina, Pietro and Marcy
In another of our adventures, Marcy and I thought it would be a great idea to sample some real native cuisine instead of enduring another meal of “tour food.” One Friday evening in
Our patient Sicilian waiter
Typically, these little Italian trattorias offer few or no options on their menus. Each night, they serve a single meal, much as if you were dining at the owner’s home. What they serve is what you get. After we were seated, we found that the evening’s meal was seafood. Uh-oh. Neither Marcy nor Dotty nor Micelle would eat seafood. We asked Pietro if the restaurant would provide a substitute and he said yes – but he was wrong. It was seafood or nothing. And in little Italian restaurants like this one, it was unthinkable to stand up and walk out once you were seated. It would have caused Pietro “perdere la faccia” (to lose face) among his neighbors and certainly would have soured what had started out as a fun evening. So, we decided that we needed to try to make the best of the situation.
Beside our table was a long table with a group of people who were obviously locals. They all had the radiant, golden-tan skin that is characteristic of Palmero’s natives, and all were dressed up. Obviously, they were there for some kind of special occasion. Since they had arrived before us, their dinners were served first. As one of the courses arrived, I glimpsed what appeared to be a quivering, purple lump of something unidentifiable on one of the plates. Shortly afterward, a plate containing one of these delicacies was plunked down in front of me. I gasped and let out a little scream when I realized it was octopus! It was fresh from the sea, and from the bright purple and pink color, I guessed that it hadn’t been cooked for very long. The whole mass was quivering so enthusiastically from the tip of its tentacle to the top of its head, all I could think of was “dancing purple octopus.” Marcy was apalled and couldn’t even look at it. And with the appearance of these marvels, my appetite for seafood left without me – perdere la faccia or no perdere la faccia.
Poor Pietro became increasingly embarrassed as the meal progressed and his four fares dined on bread and wine and passed on the rest of our food. By the time the meal was over, the owners of the restaurant (who were his cousins) had started complaining to him about us. He finally put his head down on the table in complete humiliation. We paid for our meal and left a nice tip, but the damage was done. We all left the restaurant extremely hungry. Pietro was so furious he wouldn’t even talk to us.
Four embarassing guests
At some point during our return to
Gelato wins out in the end
On the last night of the journey, I was upset to hear Marcy sobbing as she sat on her bed. I was sure she was homesick for her family and the States. I tried to comfort her, saying, "Marcy, I'm so sorry to have taken you away from everyone for so long, but we’ll be home tomorrow." Marcy replied, "Nina I'm not crying because I want to go home. I'm crying because I want to stay here!." Oh my – this was exactly what I was feeling. Marcy was a girl after my own heart. We couldn’t stay, of course, but we took home some wonderful memories and probably a couple of extra pounds each from the dozens of wonderful gelatos we ate.