so it's my third time in frascati and i know the lay of the land a bit, there's the boulevard overlook where all the young couples make out, the little puppet theater, the market square with the slices of pig in a glass case for sale. tonight i scoped out a new osteria, a little semi-underground place with wooden beamed ceilings, couples holding hands with their miniature dobermans underfoot.
i was a little jittery - our meeting that day had no less than 3 espresso breaks before lunch. i had a hankerin' for some italian food. the only sensible way to approach a roma-area menu as a mortal human without an intergalactic appetite is to choose 2 of the 4 least menacing courses. you have your starters, your first, second courses and dessert. i find only the starter/first or first/dessert combination do-able. anthing less and i just feel bad, like a person who goes to a bar and just orders water. i avoid the second course entirely, as it is usually a giant plate of meat. which you then need to accompany with a side of potatoes and then game over.
so here i was, ordering by pointing and hand signals. i didn't even read the first platti menu past the "vongole" and selected what i thought was an appropriate entrée. when i ordered, the waiter made a "wow" face with his eyes, as if i told him i just ran an ironman triathlon - a look which was surely a premonition. i made the international symbol for "tiny," pinching my fingers when ordering a wine. apparently, the waiter man interpreted this as "cheapest" not, "smallest quantity" of wine and i found myself with a full liter of almost underinkable frascati frizzante. which i drank.
and so came the meal. a giant plate of proscuitto, tomato bruschetta with a entire ball of buffalo mozzarella. which i ate.
at one point the waiter came to make smalltalk and all i can do when people speak italian is to answer in some sort of spanish. then they ask me where in spain i come from and then i say in an american accent that i am french, living in germany and their face melts with confusion and they give up.
i avoid at all costs saying that i am american, as there is a couple who recently snuck through the door, and are trying to order, and the woman, who is a perfect imitation of george costanza's mother says "Vongoleeys. Gary! i can't have clams! i'm allergic to clams you know that! if i eat clams i'll swell up and die! you want me to die gary?" and just so we are on the same page, she is not talking about clams, she is screaming about "clayams!" and of course, with no regard for the fact that the waiter understandahs the englishah she screams "gary! tell 'em i can't eat clams!" and gary dutifully repeats in english that his wife can't have clams. i do not come from america.
after the meal my plates are cleared (formerly thick spaghetti with the hole through it, in a sea of olive oil, tomato, garlic and clayams) and with a look of proud approval, waiter asks if i want a liquore, limoncello, to which i cannot say no. so then he is distributing a tray with little glasses of yellow to the other patrons, too, except for me, he hands me an entire wine glass of the stuff, in correlation with my frascati reputation i guess.
which i drank.
i requested the bill, and he asks, no no senora, are you sure-ah you don't wantah some more limoncello? della casa! how about a litro? and he makes my little pinching hand motion. um, no grazie. i can barely walk!