For those who didn’t feel that the title was sufficiently filled with warning…please listen.
I will be talking about animals today, and they won’t be sitting next to us while we eat our organic salad, artisan whole wheat bread and humanely gathered honey. This is not an attack on vegetarians, but a discussion about food. If you don't want to read this kind of stuff, close this window now. Nuff said. Back to the fun part.
I can hear you all asking “So…what are the boys up to now?” They’ve been busy during these last few days of their visit. I have one request…please, please, please when Michael tells his stories don’t say “oh yeah, Michele wrote about that.” I am not the story teller that Michael is, my way of telling things does not do justice to his turn of phrase or the expression on his face. My retelling loses something in the translation I am sure. Listen and love everything he tells you. Pinky swear.
They came to lunch at our apartment yesterday. Our e-mail confirmation of the date included the time, date and location of our meeting, so everyone was exactly where they were supposed to be this time. It was nice, as I have said before, to kind of have a witness to my life here. They have seen where I sleep and where I eat and where I brush my teeth. It is real and not a figment of my imagination or a very lovely dream. It was fun to sit with them and hear about the last few days. While they had exciting stories to share about their day trip to Greve in Chianti, their stories of the market they visited that morning were the highlight of our lunch table conversation. OK, the stories were really Michael's. Lewis sat next to him looking alternately wise and confused. His contribution to the stories was "My dawgs are still barkin'."
They had decided to go the big central food market and see what “real Italians” buy for food. The first stall Michael wanted to talk about was the one where they sold “absolutely everything tripe.” Apparently the delicacy called Lampredotto (the fourth stomach of the cow, slowly cooked, sliced and served on bread with something resembling barbeque sauce) is only one of the organs that Italians eat. According to Michael they had displayed the brains, stomachs, livers, and I suppose whatever remaining organs someone thought were edible. Definitely in the camp of using everything but the oink, or moo as the case may be.
The next stall he became fascinated with sold poultry, or to be more exact, birds. I don’t know if you can call songbirds poultry. He said there was a whole case of little tiny birds, plucked and cleaned and ready for roasting. I thought they must be pigeons, because those are seen on some menus here, but he maintains that they are songbirds. “They’re tiny,” he said and besides, when they were at the Boboli Garden they saw nets out and learned that they were for catching song birds for eventual sale in the market. NOT as live song birds. Of course he couldn’t ask, because his Italian consists of “Si, grazie”, but he sticks by his theory and who am I to argue?
“At the same stall,” he continued, was a man holding a partially plucked rooster.” How did he know it was a rooster? Because the head was still attached. Now before you all go “eeewww”, this little fact is essential to the story. I probably still would have left it in, but without the rooster’s head the story sort of goes nowhere. According to Michael, who has never been known to exaggerate (ahem) this man was treating this noble bird as a puppet and was flirting with a couple of girls with it. He made it talk to them, and apparently , somehow, implied that it was winking at them and generally having a great time playing with his food. And the girls were loving it. He said they giggled and talked back and stayed for quite some time to be entertained by an old man holding a half dressed and all dead rooster in the middle of a bustling market.
Seriously, can you see this happening in your hometown? Nope. In our politically correct world it is wrong to see the humor in a dead chicken, although decades of clowns with rubber chickens will probably tell you different. Jokes about tripe span the centuries. It’s too bad. Humor is the thing that saves us from becoming too pleased with ourselves. It saves when we are sad, lonely and lost in this great big world. Humor should never require so much thought that you foget to laugh. Without rubber chickens the world would be a much less happy place.