Caserta, Italy, May 6—MEAT IN SPAIN, vegetables in Italy: it's far too simplistic to be useful, but it opens a conversation. Oh: and the coffee factor. We breakfasted at the Madrid airport: café con leche, the Spanish version of a caffelatte, with not terribly good coffee pressed out of an espresso machine and milk heated I bet in a microwave, and a non-buttery croissant.
We lunched in this provincial capital a half-hour or so by train from Naples. We lunched late, after 3, and were warned we couldn't order a pizza as the oven had been shut down. There was a usual menu in addition to pizzas, though: antipasto, pasta, fish, meat, contorni (side dishes), verdure (vegetables.)
Lindsey ordered linguine; I asked for tagliatelle. It would be simpler, the waitress said, if you all have the same pasts. Okay, I said, we'll all have the linguine. She looked at me and seemed to be conceiving a dim idea of some kind; then: You can't have pasta, she said, because the pasta cooker is shut down.
They said we could have anything but pizza, I answered. Yes, she said, but what do they know, things change, you can't have pizza, and you can't have pasta.
Okay, okay, I said, and turned to Lindsey: what would you like? I'll have a scallopine, she said. I'll have the baccalau, I said; I hate to pass up salt cod.
It would be better, the waitress said, if you all ordered the same plate, and anyway you can't have fish, only meat. Fine, I said, we'll all have scallopine, quick, before we can't have meat either. The waitress seemed not to understand, so I repeated the order but not the subsidiary clause. Oh: and the grilled vegetables.
The waitress looked dubious, but we pointed out that the grilled vegetables were in hotel pans on ice on display and clearly available.
They came and were delicious: grilled radicchio, zuucchini, eggplant, and peppers. Even more delicious, though, was dinner en famille at the home of Franny's Italian exchange family: pasta with prawns (anchovies for me) followed by platters of bresaola and prosciutto and alice and a fine lettuce salad and good honest bread.
Vino nobile di Montepulciano, 2007