If I don’t write about it, it won’t happen, right? So I’ll just say we went out for dinner tonight, Grandpa’s shout. I won’t mention that it was his last meal with us. If we don’t think about taking him to the train station by 6:30 tomorrow morning, we won’t realise he’ll be gone in a matter of hours.
The first time he went home, ER3 pined for him for days.
A few weeks back when he zipped across to Canada with Aunty, we found ourselves still setting a place for him at mealtimes.
So let’s talk about meals instead.
Back at the farm we just stayed at (as opposed to the IKEA carpark we’re in for the second night), some of us (not children!) ate at the onsite restaurant. Now we know why so many Italians are so well-covered.
There was a set menu for a set price:
* something we did not understand to start with
* antipasti of the house
* pizza from the pizza menu
* black forest cherry cake
* something else we did not understand
* water, wine and coffee
Thinking there was no way we would manage to consume all that, we fumbled our way through ordering ONE antipasti to share and TWO pizzas (they’ll be small, right? they’re meant for one person).
We did not need the pizzas. And especially not when they turned out to be so large they hung over the sides of the oversized dinner plates!
In fact, we were so overcome that when Rob could eat no more, he fetched Grandpa, who had been watching the children (remember the restaurant didn’t open until after 9pm so most of them were in bed), and dragged him up to the restaurant to help us finish off!
Never will we forget the selection of antipasti.
Plate Number One: spicy sausage slices (about the amount our whole family shares at any one sitting)
Plate Number Two: bruschetta drizzled with delicious olive oil and topped with roughly chopped Roma tomatoes and red peppers
Plate Number Three: long thin marrow strips fried in olive oil and garlic, seasoned with cracked black pepper
When the waiter brought out these and the bread basket, we thought maybe we should change our order of two pizzas to just one. But it was too hard! And the waiter was one of those stereotypical flamboyant Italians with arms flying in all directions as he tried to bring under control situations totally out of his control. Like us arriving at the restaurant without a reservation (through no fault of our own). Like us offering to sit at one of the outside tables (thinking we were being helpful, but that proved to be a big problem, not a solution, as he was the only waiter for the evening and could not run up and down the stairs from inside to outside!) Like us not wanting wine – what? No wine? Surely not? I must have misunderstood!
So we kept the two pizzas order.
Then the waiter appeared with the rest of the antipasti!
Plate Number Four: five balls of mozarella di bufala
Plate Number Five: cucumber – sweetcorn – radish – celery – tomato salad dressed with balsamic vinegar
Plate Number Six: Three items!
1) zucchini stuffed with cheese…lightly grilled
2) a savoury roll somewhat like a chelsea bun, but filled with yellow pepper
3) two thin rounds of aubergine sandwiched around a slice of ham and more cheese, all dipped in breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil. Possibly the tastiest thing we have ever eaten! Ever. Truly!
The other Italians in the restaurant ate up their dishes with gusto. Most of them stopped between courses to go outside, presumably for a stroll. Some of them ordered extra dishes as well – as if the set menu did not provide enough! And when we left the restaurant as the clock neared 11pm over half the tables had not yet been filled – but there were names on the reservation sheet for them. It really is true that Italians eat LATE. And they eat LOTS.
And it really is true that in the morning Grandpa heads back to Rome to catch a plane to New Zealand, while we turn southwards, heading for the ferry to Greece.
Grandpa’s Last Lunch:
Grandpa’s Last Sleeping Spot: