Our Tuscania hosts, Mark and Ginger, were leading Carol and I on a walk through their lovely, ancient and quiet town toward a restaurant for a “light lunch.” As we walked, Ginger told us about the restaurant we'd be going to that night. “There'll be eight courses including desserts (dessertS!), and all the wine you can drink.” This is what I was loving about Italy so far: We were going to lunch talking about dinner.
At home in California, I was self-conscious about waking up mornings and asking Carol what she wanted for dinner that evening. “Reid, I haven't even had my coffee yet,” she would reply ever so sweetly. But as Ginger explained, “In Italy, life revolves around mealtime.”
Carol and I planned ahead for our eight course dinner by having lasagne for lunch. Afterward, we hiked up to the medieval church at the summit of the town and then back to our room for a nap, which got us in shape for the eating ahead.
Our hosts warmed us up with wine and bar snacks that consisted of cheese, prosciutto, bread and potato chips at a cozy little bistro around the corner from the restaurant where we'd be eating. As we arrived there, a delivery truck was dropping off the dishware we'd be using throughout the course of our meal (just kidding).
A bottle of opened white wine was chilling on our table. Carol and I noted the basket of bread, and we successfully negotiated that Scylla. It was the Charybdis that whirled in in eight separate bowls that would do us in and swallow us whole.
First came the octopus, which had a sweet barbecue flavor. That was followed in succession by swordfish, shrimp, muscles, a swordfish pasta, a ginger-flavored sea bass and then delicately fried calamari. Blue whales devouring krill would not have vacuumed the sea the way we just had.
But wait, there's more. There were two desserts, one a creme brulee, and the other simply dissolved before us as we slipped into a peristaltic coma. We were carted home in wheelbarrows (not kidding).
The next morning, our hosts inquired about breakfast. “We had that last night,” I answered, “along with today's lunch and tonight's dinner. In fact, we may have covered the entire week last night.”
A couple of observations. Italians do not generally eat between meals. This is because there is no between meals here; there simply is no time. From the time we sat down to the lasagne at lunch time, we more or less were continuously eating, or preparing to go to other places to eat, with only a short (digestive?) interval where we saw a church and took a nap. Someone commented that we might need Weight Watchers when we get back home. I'll think we'll be quite beyond their reach, regardless of how many miles we’re kidding ourselves in thinking that we're walking it all off. We both left for Italy knowing we should try to at least maintain weight by walking as much as we can.
We should be in Thailand by the time that happens.