April 5, 2012
A word about food.
We have been eating extremely well, cooking breakfast and dinner at home and eating lunch at one of the many excellent trattoria around Venice and Murano. Fresh produce is easy to find, very high quality, and shopkeepers have great pride in their wares and their presentation. It is foolhardy to attempt to handle the fruit and vegetables. Dirty looks will be rained down upon you. The butcher cuts and ties his meat with the care befitting a work of art.
Today, for example we lunched on Murano. The food was delicious. I had grilled sardines, Daphne had Carbonara, and Nicki had Spaghetti Vongole. It was piercingly cold in the wind, so we each had a hot chocolate to follow. Hot, dark and sensuously delicious, it was neither too sweet nor too bland.
We sat there warmed to the core and deeply satisfied, when the waiter approached us. ‘Are you……Australian?’ , he asked. ‘Yes, how did you know, from our accents?’ ‘No, you had fish and chocolate! I once had a customer who had vegetable soup and a hot chocolate. She was from New Zealand.’ Antipodean eccentricity versus the suave Italian culture. Apparently one has hot chocolate
With cake in the afternoon, NEVER after fish.
All that was left: sardine tails and Vongole shells!
We are having minestrone for dinner tonight. In Italy, it appears, you are expected to make stock from scratch. At least we have been unable to find any packaged stock other than the dreadful cubes. Nicki went to our local butcher and asked for some bones for the stock, and unfortunately, as it turned out, asked for ‘ porco ossi’ or ‘pollo ossi’ which caused great hilarity. He said ‘I have no bones at all’ and then something incomprehensible which reduced his clientele to gales of laughter.
Apparently porco is an extremely rude word in Italian.
After a two and a half hour vaporetto trip back from Murano (don’t ask!) we staggered into Harry’s Bar thinking of having a warming drink before walking back to our apartment through the rain. We figured that since it was such an institution, we needed to do it once before leaving Venice, and now seemed to be the right time. What a disappointment! Full of well heeled tourists (of course) completely lacking in atmosphere, and with prices for a single drink equivalent to what we have been paying for a whole meal, we decided it had to be done, to bite the bullet and pay up rather than leave. Daphne ordered a tea for 9 euros. When it arrived it was a small teapot full of less than boiling water, no milk, and a selection of TEABAGS!!! Nicki and I had another hot chocolate each, nowhere near the quality of the one we had in Murano. It was half the quality for twice the price.