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May 28th, 2007

Ooooo, another epic. The next one is sure to be as well as I'm about to travel internationally (ya can't say overseas unless you live on an island (Aus, UK, NZ) or somewhere that thinks it's an island (US, sorry American friends). If you wanna skip it, more new photos of Padova are up! Yay!

"Get a table near the street, in our old familiar place, you and I face to face" It's time for me to pontificate on food. I'm in a pontificatory (?) mood having sat in on my first ever Cattolica sermon today. The food here is a topic close to my heart, not just because of it's delightfulness (A wise friend once said 2 of the best things in life are food and sleep. I still reckon she forgot one.) but also because it's 1/2 of my sweet, sweet deal with the INFN (Italian nuclear organisation); free accommodation and meals reimbursed upon presentation of receipt.

However, I cannot talk on Italian food in general; it changes markedly between regions and most of my time has been in the north. Thus, I will limit myself to Veneto cuisine. Venito is the Italian province that consists of the parts of the Venetian empire that fell to Italy. There are bits of Croatia that belonged to Venice too.

So, going into a Veneto restaurant, the first thing you come across are crispy bread stick things called 'grissini', and maybe some sliced bread. These are free in so much as they are covered by the 'coperto' (cover charge, usually about 2 Euro or just over A$3).

Next comes the choice of drinks. Tap beer is usually from across Europe, but I'm not too impressed in the usual options. "Perhaps a bottle of Rosé instead?" As a rule, the vino del casa (house wine) in Italy is excellent, because if it weren't the locals would shun the joint. No paint stripper here as at home. With wine you usually get aqua minerale, normale or frizzante (you can work that our yerselves).

Next, you go down one of two paths: prima piata and secondo piata, or pizza. The prima and seconda option will usually be a plate or bowl of something by itself, no sides. Ask for Roast Beef alla Anglise, you get beef alone. Ask for salad, that's it. This is your path to pasta. In Veneto, this path also leads you to beautiful seafood, possibly fried in a light batter of egg and flour alone. Delicious beyond words. You can also get Vitella Tonnato, thinly sliced roast veal in a tuna paste, served cold. Lovely. There may also be polenta, which is corn-meal mash that either comes sloppy or in a fried loaf-thing. Sometimes you can get a smattering of everything of offer, if you are lucky.

Pizzas are all thin crust in this part of the world. You choose traditional or house specials. The traditionals are as one would expect, except Peperoni is capsicum (American style 'peperoni' is diavola, or 'hell'); Capricosa has artichoke (It turns out capricosa means 'sexy but capricious woman'); marinara has no seafood what-so-ever, as it's to give sailors a break; and you will never find pineapple on a pizza, but maybe egg (if you can cope with them being called 'uovo'). The house pizzas could be any damned thing. Grain and corn is not unheard of. Most importantly, you are quite welcome to pour olive oil (meh) or more excellently olio picanto (chilli oil) on you pizzas.

Dolce (sweets) is all the usual stuff, though the tiramisu is better than Straya by a country mile. Or 15,000 km.

It is usual to finish up with an Italian style coffee: short and strong. One variety (of the many) that is noteworthy is Café Coretto, coffee with a correction of grappa. Friends, grappa is horrid crap.

That is all. You are free to resume your normal lives now.

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