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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Archives: Old Topic of the Month Threads / A Memory of Rome: a food tale
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    A Memory of Rome: a food tale

    Zurie
    Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:22 pm
    Forum Host
    When in Rome for the first time, we loved the city for being so accessible -- that we could walk (most of the time) through most of the old city.

    On our first night there, being totally "at sea" as far as restaurants were concerned, we wandered the streets and alleys near our hotel.

    In a very narrow, cobble-stoned alley I saw an open door, a glowing lantern above the door, and a small table with white tablecloth and a chair outside. No name -- just a small eating place. "That's where I want to eat, " I said to DH on impulse.

    On entering and being welcoming warmly, we noticed to our satisfaction that the place was filled with Italians -- no tourists except us!!

    There was a table laid out with antipasti of all kinds: parma ham, things in leaves, things with ancovies, various olives, fresh breads ....

    The owner (it seemed his wife was the cook) gave us a scrawled, handwritten menu (in PENCIL!!) in Italian. He came and put down a large porcelain jug of hearty Italian red wine on our table, and gestured towards the antipasti table.

    We did not know a word of Italian, but somehow my husband and this kindly man conversed well!! DH in Afrikaans, and the owner in Italian! icon_lol.gif

    That way DH ordered "the best dish you recommend" in Afrikaans. The owner spoke back in Italian, but seemed to understand! It was sooo funny!

    We had one of the simplest, yet most memorable meals I can remember.

    Antipasti with wine. Main dish ("the best dish ...") was the most tender calf's shanks with alovely "jus" and baby potatoes, and in the centre of the table was put a huge dish of freshly cooked spinach with absolutely heaps of the most fragrant Parmesan.

    That sounds far too simple, doesn't it? But it's one of the few meals I recall as "memorable" in my life! Honest, real, excellent quality, tender meat, lots of wine -- everything totally delicious.

    Dessert/dolci? Nooo, we had no room for that!
    duonyte
    Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:32 pm
    Forum Host
    What a terrific memory - and meal! These happy accidents are just the best! I have a similar memory from Puerto Rico and from Brazil.
    Zurie
    Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:43 pm
    Forum Host
    Duo, thanks -- and now tell about the meals you mention!

    It is so interesting that, looking back, the most memorable meals are NOT in fine dining restaurants. It's often a simple, honest, comforting eating experience.
    duonyte
    Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:54 pm
    Forum Host
    I was in Puerto Rico with a friend and her cousin. She kept wanting to eat at the hotel or at American chain restaurants in PR. I did not. So I asked a taxi driver where he would take his wife for a nice Sunday dinner or his mother for her birthday. He referred us to a restaurant not terribly far away, in a commercial area. It was wonderful seafood - all locals, pretty much, but just wonderful wonderful food. I've used this technique in other places, too. This way you avoid the very commercial restaurants that are in guidebooks - nothing wrong with them, but I like a genuine experience.

    I was in Brazil working with a local community group and some young people We were on a weekend getaway in Santos and went for a ride up the coast. Rather barren, but we came upon a spot where the fishing wharf was on one side of the road and a restaurant/store was on the other side of the road. We stopped to eat. Had platters of seafood, straight from the ocean, dripping with the sea. The girls had Cokes, I and the young man had caipirinhas. I think I paid $5 whole the whole lot.


    Last edited by duonyte on Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total
    JoyfulCook
    Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:25 am
    Forum Host
    What memories! Zurie i can just picture it icon_smile.gif
    Zurie
    Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:37 pm
    Forum Host
    duonyte wrote:
    I was in Puerto Rico with a friend and her cousin. She kept wanting to eat at the hotel or at American chain restaurants in PR. I did not. So I asked a taxi driver where he would take his wife for a nice Sunday dinner or his mother for her birthday. He referred us to a restaurant not terribly far away, in a commercial area. It was wonderful seafood - all locals, pretty much, but just wonderful wonderful food. I've used this technique in other places, too. This way you avoid the very commercial restaurants that are in guidebooks - nothing wrong with them, but I like a genuine experience.

    I was in Brazil working with a local community group and some young people We were on a weekend getaway in Santos and went for a side up the coast. Rather barren, but we came upon a spot where the fishing wharf was on one side of the road and a restaurant/store was on the other side of the road. We stopped to eat. Had platters of seafood, straight from the ocean, dripping with the sea. The girls had Cokes, I and the young man had caipirinhas. I think I paid $5 whole the whole lot.


    Great!! That's food memories! (Maybe not Italian, but still, so interesting!)
    DEEP
    Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:50 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    I have one of those memories from Milan....similar to Zurie's in many ways. I and a friend were discussing where we would eat that night. It was getting late as we walked down side streets. In all honesty, we were both so hungry that agitation had gently crept its way into our discussion. Anyway, as we were walking, I looked down, a few feet below street level and saw two lovely tables inside that were all set and seemed to be screaming for diners. There was a small sign outside...I can't even begin to recall the name now. However, we kinda looked at each other, both with "well, why not?" or was it "somebody's gonna get hurt if I don't eat" looks on our faces. We walked down the few steps and entered. We were met by a most gracious elderly Italian gent, who asked, in Italian, if we would like dinner. Well, I know just enough Latin and Spanish to kinda be able to make my way haphazardly through light conversation. He seated us at one of the window tables, and of course, the wine jug just "appeared" by another staff person as we exchanged pleasantries. And, we too were gestured toward the antipasti table.

    There were only 7-8 tables in the place, and of course each was filled with what looked to be families. I'm not sure if they all knew each other, or that they were just being the normal congenial Italians, but they were all talking from table to table, gesturing wildly, and laughing a lot. They all also seemed to know the proprietor and staff quite well. I recall the antipasti quite well, but the entree I selected was tripe...I love tripe. It was served cooked to perfection, yet I cannot really recall much else about it. Of course, a few glasses of good, hearty red wine can do that. I do know it was delicious. Everything was delicious.....here I was in Milan savouring a wonderful Italian meal, with wonderful Italian people around, and it was just kinda magical. Maybe I was just starving, but I don't think it was just that.

    We did not have dessert, either. However, we did have each one of the wonderful limoncellos that the Milanese, and the Sicilians are so well known for.....tall tubular heavy glasses, with just the right mix of fresh squeezed lemon and vodka, partially frozen to the perfect state of "slush". I slept well that night!
    Satyne
    Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:53 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Wow, now I want to go back to Rome and find it!
    JoyfulCook
    Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:28 am
    Forum Host
    Deep. I agree with Satyne - I would like to go and find that restaurant, what a wonderful memory and they are so hospitable too.
    Zurie
    Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:08 pm
    Forum Host
    DEEP -- exactly!!

    Our little hole-in-the-wall was the same -- small rooms, containing some loud Italians!

    Best places to eat (say all the travel guides) are to eat where the locals eat -- and that's always the "anonymous" little restaurants.

    Oh wow ... all this talk makes me homesick for France and Italy ... icon_sad.gif
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