Being a girl seemingly constantly worried about bothering other people or inconveniencing them in any way, I'm next to him as he's on the phone waving "NOOOO!" as he's asking his mom for all sorts of stuff - salami, cheeses, meats, bottled water. Worried, he gets off the phone and I start to ask, obsessively, if she is mad at us, if she thinks I'm lazy for not shopping, and so forth.
Boy did I read that wrong. Italian mom's in Italy are exactly as they are in the U.S.
Her concern was not that I was lazy or we didn't want to go shopping, but,"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVE NO FOOD????"
She sent up enough food for a family of four for a week. No joke. An our tiny Euro-Fridge is now a dangerous death trap of eggplant and peppers. Whenever you open the door, you have to jump back from the assault of falling vegetables.
This attitude of his family carries over to their restaurant as
well. Last night was Wednesday, and the Cantina is closed while the Restaurant is open. We went there at about 9:30, I again worrying we were inconveniencing his family by taking up a table or making
his mom take our order. After the fifth course, we begged his parents (his dad in the kitchen, his mother graciously checking in on tables in the packed restaurant) to stop sending food. It was all delicious, but even 5 small tasting plates make up a pretty hearty meal with wine. Local trill Ligurian style with tomatoes, potatoes, pine nuts and olives, followed by sole stuffed with an eggplant puree and then swordfish with a mint and
basil pesto, fresh plums and arugula. Next came another local white fish with capers and a broccoli cream sauce, then finally, breaded, lightly fried Ligurian swordfish with a red pepper cream
and wilted radicchio reduced with red wine and aged balsamic. I was absolutely stuffed.
Here I am, worried that we're eating when they could be concentrating on other actual
guests, when his father comes out of the kitchen in his chef outfit, annoyed.
"Why don't you want more food?"
His mom, "You hardly ate anything!"
"Have some tiramisu!"
"No?? Ok, then you have to have the homemade frutti di bosco sorbetto - caldo - it's for digestion. What do you mean no? Just a little, just a little. No, no, take it. I'm just going to put it down, eat what you want". (Note: the homemade sorbetto was in a parfait form with some warm, local berry compote, hence the "hot" sorbet).
A scene similar to every dinner I had growing up. It's nice to know that parents, are, well - parents. No matter where you go in the world.