My cousin, Jessica has inspired me to take a shot at blogging as we start this new chapter in our life. I’ve never really been a “writer” so bare with me as I get in to the swing of things. Although most of the time this will mainly be recaps of our adventures and updates that save me from sending out mass e-mails, so it’s probably not as entertaining as you’d expect!
Last night we had our first real Italian Experience. One of Bobby’s friends that he use to be stationed in Korea with, and his wife, were gracious enough to take us to Ristorante San Giorgio Aviano (The Spaghetti House)…Let me just say, when you hear that “water is cheaper than wine” in Italy, it is in fact the TRUTH. I already predict the ease of becoming a wino here. I am not going to front, I felt completely out of my comfort zone when we walked in. Here we were surrounded by people speaking a language that I can only understand bits and pieces of… I quickly became overwhelmed looking at the menu. Page after page of Antipasto, Insalate, Pizza, Entree’s categorized according to meats and fish, first course, second course, third course…and the list goes on. Luckily under each plate they had the ingredients written in English to give us some sort of idea of what we were ordering. (We were close to base so most of the staff speaks English, although when serving you, I noticed one sentence would be spoken in English and the very next one would be in Italian.. Until I get a feel for the language I plan to just smile and nod my head!)
We both started off with the given..WINE! Now usually we are both white wine drinkers, but Bobby decided to take a gamble and try the house red. (I stuck with white) I must say, the red was actually better than the white. It was full of flavor. Heck, maybe we’ll both convert by the time it’s all said and done.
If you order water it is not from the tap. It’s a large glass bottle that you can share. Glad I learned that quickly, I always order water with my dinner because it’s “cheaper”…but not anymore!
Olive Garden and Carrabba’s have nothing on real Italian food. For dinner I had the Penne al’ Americhiana (Penne pasta in a red sauce with onions, bacon, and hot red peppers). Bobby being the risk taker he is, ordered the Tutto Pizza which was a thin crust pizza topped with onions, black olives, green olives, zucchini, sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto, yellow peppers, mozzarella, artichoke, spinach and for the kicker, HOT DOGS! Yep, chopped up hot dogs. If you didn’t already know, you can put anything on a pizza here and the toppings are not spread out. One slice might have all spinach while the slice beside it is covered in olives.
The couple we were with are very good friends with the waiter (Stefano) so he’d randomly pop by the table with shot glasses and bottles of Italian Liquor. First up.. the Meloncello, (talk about trouble, it tastes exactly like a Cantaloupe) Next we tried the Green Apple, followed by Limoncello and then the rough stuff, Blueberry Grappa (Which is extremely high in alcohol content, similar to our moonshine, made out of the leftover grape skins, pulp and seeds from winemaking). Italians believe that these alcoholic beverages aid in digestion, therefore it is common to drink before AND after your meal.
We finished off dinner with the traditional Tiramisu, a Cappuccino and lastly another Limoncello drink that was frozen (almost like an Icee) called Scorpino.
I had already read that meal time is a social event for Italians and boy were they right. We went to dinner at 7pm and did not leave until 11:15pm. I can see my Dad and Brother now…they won’t last long at an Italian restaurant.
Also, I learned a really awesome little tid bit while we were eating. As we are sitting at our table I hear a barking dog and I am like “What in the world, where is that coming from.” Two tables down a lady was sitting WITH her dog in the chair beside her. I am talking paws on the table and she was feeing him… apparently it is acceptable in many places to bring your dog. (Great news for Presley!)
Now, here is where I stopped my blog this morning. However, we have had a full day of non stop go go go since I wrote the above. Great news, WE FOUND A HOUSE! We have spent the past few days looking at houses, driving past houses, calling people, all that fun stuff, but NOTHING has been up to par. You see these adorable little Italian Villas in the movies and you think “man, I’d love to live there.” Well, not so much. The outsides of these houses are picture perfect but the inside is a whole different world. It is NOT that common for an Italian home to have a stove/oven, dishwasher or a large refrigerator (I’m talking college size mini fridge in these houses), so the house hunting process has proven to be disappointing once you walk through the doors. Also, many of the houses have been turned into apartments or split levels. You think you are going to see a single home and the owner has turned the downstairs into a one family apartment and then upstairs is a completely separate unit (Or the right side is one and the left side is a different “home”) so my ideal picturesque Italian Villa was fading fast. We have decided on a townhouse (and yes, an actual townhouse, not a house someone decided to split apart) right in the center of a small Italian town about 20 minutes from base. We had to compromise on a rather small yard but the fact it had a stove/oven, dishwasher, place for a full size refrigerator AND washer/dryer hook ups make the compromise well worth it. The inside feels more like an American home (minus the fact that Italian washer and dryers are small enough that I could pick one up on my own) but when you step out the door you are surrounded by Italy! I did not take pictures today but when we go to sign the papers next week I will take some and post them. Our landlord is American (retired Military) and lives next door (in a house) with his Italian wife and son, the neighbor we’d technically share a wall with is full on Italian with two daughters. We will be within walking distance of a supermarket, Gelato place, Pizzeria, Bar, all the good stuff! And we hear they have the best weekly market compared to other nearby towns. The town is called Cordignano, a whopping 10 square miles in size!
On another note, it was getting late once we were done house hunting and we were hungry so we went with some new friends to McDonalds. Talk about HECTIC. There was at least 100 people in this McDonalds (No exaggeration, Italians must love Mickey D’s). Now if you really know me, you know I am a ketchup lover… lesson number 2 learned today: Bring your own ketchup! THEY CHARGE YOU FOR CONDIMENTS! We ordered two (regular size) Big Mac meals and it was equivalent to $16.00 in the US. At least it tasted good (They also sell beer at Mc Donald’s and Burger King’s here)
I’ll be honest, the past few days I have been really reluctant. I didn’t want to jump the gun and already form an opinion of this place but I was quickly becoming weary of whether we’d really adapt to this completely different lifestyle (especially with the language barrier) but after last night and today, those feelings have quickly faded. I guess my job will be going to the gym because we are going to be eating some amazing food for the next three years!