Monday, May 18, 2009
Angeli e Demoni
“Football, American football?” asked the little man as he spread his back and flexed his arms and smiled at me. I smiled back at him. Sure when you’re only 5ft 2in everybody looks like a football player to you I thought. Then he said, “Obama, yes, Obama?” and he gave me the thumbs up. ”Look my friend, just put your finger,” and he held up two pieces of string held in a loop, “and two wishes…blah blah blah.” I knew where this was going but my only wish was that he would leave me alone. I brushed him off.
Why is it that Arab men love to ask, “what you want my friend?” no matter where you are or what you are doing. Is this the first phrase they learn to say in English in their foreign language classes, or do they actually say this in Yemen or Syria or wherever they are from and just literally translate it word for word when they leave home? Anyway, that was what I noticed all the waiters seemed to ask me. I’m not saying that all waiters are Arabs in Rome but it certainly seemed to be a hell of a lot of them who were.
There was this one time when I was walking in Travestere which is a residential area in the city and I was looking for something to eat. I was starving, it was close to 3pm and the free breakfast at the hotel could only take me so far in the day. I had to get something or face collapsing in the middle of the street or turning into the Hulk. I was no longer in the mood for pictures so I can’t show you any here, but I found a place where the people were jumping and everyone seemed to be having a good time eating. I should have noticed that they were all eating pizzas with the thin crust or salads. I had had that the day before somewhere else and loved it, but I wanted to get something different this time.
“What you want my friend?” asked the waiter. He was an Arab I noticed after I decided the menu was going to be a waste of time since I couldn’t read it.
“I want some sort of chicken,” I said. I was thinking of fried chicken and fries actually. Look I’m a black man and it’s in our genes.
“I bring you chicken done Roman style. Chicken Roma huh? It is chicken with potatoes and sweet peppers like how we do it here.”
I agreed to that, a salad and a beer and he brought it out fifteen, twenty minutes later. To say that it looked like something that I might have thrown up ten years ago after a night of heavy drinking would have been to put it lightly, but I was hungry and there only one place that plate was going, down into my stomach. The fact that it was almost tasteless didn’t seem to matter either, I had been rescued. The €20 that I paid or about $28 seemed to be a trivial amount since I think most of cost was for the beer anyway.
I found out two days later when I ordered the “Pollo con Peperoni” from the menu of another restaurant and the same plate came out, that there are at least two ways of making this food. One way is for tourists done quick and easy which was what I had at the first place, and the other made with a flavor and a texture that will lift your empty soul and soothe your spirit. However, that was not going to be my best meal in Italy or even maybe the best meal that I’ve had since St Martin. That would go to the one I had in Orvieto, a town about 75 miles northeast of Rome. There is a little video of this town under My Stuff to the right of this if you’d like to see the place. I wish that I had taken pictures of the meal that I had in this little restaurant on this little side street on the way to the Duomo (cathedral).
Again I had trouble with the menu and the waitress didn’t speak any more English than I spoke Italian but I knew that pollo meant chicken so I went for the Petto di Pollo something something. This turned out to be a thinly sliced chicken breast covered with a really flavorful cheese topped with prosciutto and drizzled with herbs and olive oil. Looking at it I wasn’t sure if the chicken was grilled or boiled, but as I started to eat it I didn’t care. All I knew that was that my dick had started to dribble from the excitement and pleasure this food was giving me. It was more than “molto bene”, it was the kind of thing that would have made me shave the chef’s nuts for a week just to get another plate, but they were closing down for a couple of hours and it was time for me to leave. Siesta time you know. Now that’s true civilization; to eat scratch and then sleep and not feel guilty.
Anyway, I took close to 900 pictures of my trip all together and I have erased about 400 of them. That’s the beauty of digital. Here are a few of the rest which if you scroll over them some will have their names listed if I can remember them and you can click on them to enlarge them if you want. Also, no there are no pictures of the Sistine Chapel since they don’t allow you to take pictures there but uh…what more you want my friend?