October 24, 2008


Filed under: food,language,travel — origamifreak @ 7:19 am
Tags: , ,

10/23/2008 11:06 PM

Tonight a bunch of us went to dinner in Trento. My colleague noticed an interesting item on the menu:

Did you spot it? It’s the spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and shrimp. I’m sure it is very good, but perhaps they ought to have an English speaker spell-check the menu…

By the way, this same colleague said that I have to inform everyone in the U.S. that gondoliers in Venice do not sing “O Sole Mio.” So please forward this fact to everyone on your email list, and spread the word, as a public service. Thank you.

He also observed that in movies all Italian restaurants have red and white checked tablecloths, and he said he’d never seen such a thing on any table in a restaurant. At which I pointed out that the envelope in which his silverware had come had a vague green and red gingham pattern on it. He said that didn’t count because it was paper, not fabric. I rested my case.

I had the penne with ham and walnuts in a cream sauce, which was nice. Afterwards we walked a bit around Trento before heading back to our respective cars.

Tomorrow is my last day here, and tomorrow evening I head off for a weekend in the foothills of the Dolomites.



  1. Ahhhhh!

    Your posts about travelling in Europe made me wax lyrical and pine for the days when Europe was mysterious, weird and wonderful for me too! Nowadays, things like ‘Penne a la Forest Gamp’ are nothing compared to trying to read a manual (undoubtedly written, originally in Korean or Chinese) translated into MANY (Western) languages – the least of which, perhaps, is English! So many happy (and amusing) accidents! How ethnocentric we are, I realise. That we live in a country ((the US) ‘littered ‘ with 1st and second generation Italians/Chinese/Japanese (etc (!) people we think we know something about those cultures. Are we surprised we are to discover how our ‘Urban Myths’ of tablecloths and such (a la “Sopranos” and NYC’s ‘Little Italy’ doesn’t really resonate with the ‘real’ Italy? The same is true for France, England, Spain… I guess what we really know is something like artificial vanilla flavouring vs vanilla pod flavour or instant versus real mashed potatoes. Since moving here, I feel like I am eating real mashed potatoes. And it’s not exotic or ‘fun’ or even special – it’s just everyday living.

    I need a vacation! I want to go to China or Hong Kong or India – that, for me, would be an adventure.

    Reading your posts, though, always reminds me of a time when all of this stuff over here was new and exciting and different. Oh, my – that was SO long ago! I miss that feeling… Now, twice a week, I can walk through a Eurostar station (St. Pancras) on my way back home from my therapy session. In Cambridge, everyday I hear many languages – tourists and residents from many countries, chatting.

    I love your posts – they are so interesting. And they ALWAYS make me think and reflect. And so I have.


    Comment by Sofia T. Catt — October 25, 2008 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  2. Erm, just for the record, the colleague pointing these particular things out is Italian – he’s just really in tune with American culture.

    I have no excuse for the laundromat post, though. 😉

    To get a handle on a place I’ll be going I like to pick up a copy of the appropriate “Culture Smart” book – it’s full of stereotypes, but at least they are based in fact:

    I’m not sure if I ever want to see the one about the US – it might make me cringe too much!

    P.S. Are you saying our Scotland Expedition a few years ago wasn’t an adventure? (just kidding) 🙂

    Comment by origamifreak — October 26, 2008 @ 1:14 am | Reply

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