Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dinner at the Neighbors.

Our neighbors are Calabrese, that is, they are from the region of Italy named Calabria. Calabria is found way down south, in the "toe" area of Italy that is kicking the island of Sicily. Giorgia and Daniele are their names and they also have three daughters, two who live with them and one who lives in town, and a grandson, little Daniele who I previously wrote about on here. Giorgia is a teacher in the X Man's school and she is wonderful, we love her to death. The whole family is great actually and we love having them as neighbors. In typical Italian fashion, they always want to have us over for dinner. Although I love eating dinner over there, I have to decline sometimes for a couple reasons; first, like most Italians, they eat dinner very late, usually around 8 or 8:30. That's just way too late for me as I'm usually in bed by 9 since I get up around 0430 for work. Also, dinner at their house means way too much food for me. A normal Italian meal has 4 or 5 different courses, then they force dessert on you and then maybe some cheese or fruit afterwards, not to mention the vino flowing freely throughout the's just too much for me, especially late at night.

With the wife away, I think Giorgia took pity on me and the first week asked me to come have dinner with them. I didn't want to be rude but I explained that they eat too late and that I'm usually in bed around 9 so I would have to pass. She understood and was not offended but since I mentioned that weekends were better since I don't work, she wanted to invite me on a weekend but every weekend so far has been either full or they have been in Tuscany visitng her brother. She invited us for lunch this past Sunday but we had plans to be in Venice all day so I had to decline once again but I felt bad so I agreed to come to dinner on Wednesday. It worked out perfectly as there is an American kid named Jeremy staying with me this week, he is the son of a girl I went to school with back home. He's a freshman in college spending his first semester in Florence on an exchange program and he's on semester break so I offered for him to come up here if he wanted to see Venice and experience some real Italian culture. Well, let me tell you, if you want real Italian culture, go to dinner at an Italian's house.

We ended up eating around 8 and what a freaking meal. Antipasto was prosciutto crudo from Tuscany, then bigoli all'anitra (fat pasta with duck meat) which is a speciality of the Veneto region where live. After that they brought out a huge plate of homemade polpette done in Calabria style. Polpette is similar to a meatball except it's mostly flat instead of round and they make theirs with meat, cheese, parsley, cream and one or two other ingredients I can't recall. Absolutely delicious. Along with the polpette was a big plate of a special sweet salsiccia (sausage) from Asiago, the famous alpine town nearby known mostly for it's cheese. As a contorni (side dish), there was also a huge plate of steak fries (which I avoided) and a big bowl of salad. I was completely stuffed but then Daniele insisted on bringing out the big block of Asiago cheese and then a big bowl of roasted chestnuts. Dessert was a torta (cake) with pear on top. We also had three different kinds of vino.

The food was amazing but the best part of the night, as it often is, was the fellowship. The entire evening was spent with us learning a lot of Italian language and culture as well as introducing the neighbors to a lot of American language and culture. That kind of thing has always been one of my favorite parts of living in Italy. And it was quite an experience for Jeremy as well, as he was able to practice his Italian and the look on his face was priceless and I'm certain that he will keep that experience in his mind forever.

I didn't get any pics from dinner but I found a few online of some of the dishes:

Prosciutto Crudo

Bigoli all'anitra


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