the italians, they are CRAZY
August 5, 2008
I’ve mentioned the Italy ski trips, which were awesome, by the way. But I’m not here to give you travelogues, like “we went up this mountain, down this other one, it was hard, the skiing was great, yada yada yada.”
Actually, what AM I here for? I dunno.
On our first climbing/skiing trip over there (I think we’ve been four times), we stayed in the tiny village of Alagna, in the cabin next to our guide’s restored 700 year old house (I may be exaggerating a tich). We would get up and eat a small breakfast in the small hotel restaurant next door, and stop at a small deli on the long walk to the tram station and load up on plain ham sandwiches, and sometimes we would get lucky and eat lunch at a little restaurant tucked waaaay up in the Alps, where they would serve us the best carbonara I’ve ever had, and then we would ski back down to Alagna, clean up, and go out to another little village restaurant for more amazing food.
Which brings us to crazy Italians. We arrived in Milan on a Sunday, and spent a few hours roaming Milan, sightseeing, eating gelato, and getting used to parking on the sidewalk. Then we drove the several hours to Alagna, found Armin’s house, slept, and then skied all the next day. By Monday evening, we were very tired, and very hungry. But apparently Monday is not a good night to go out to eat in Alagna. Armin made a few calls, and arranged for us to eat at a little hotel up the street, we should be there at 8:30pm. We cleaned up, and headed to the restaurant. And found it pretty much deserted.
After we knocked on the door for a few minutes, someone finally answered and asked us what we wanted. We said “Armin sent us.” He disappeared for a minute, then returned and said, in a heavy accent “Yew were zupposed to be haeare at aaaate.”
“Oh, we’re sorry, Armin told us 8:30. Never mind, thanks anyway.”
“No no no, pleazeee come eeeen. Vee vill mahke zomezing fer yew.” (If you’re wondering why I’m writing an Italian talking with a mixture of a German and French accent, I’m wondering the same thing. These guys were German Italians, and spoke better German than Italian. Which was good, since none of us spoke Italian, but Senior spoke German. But not well enough, which we shall see. None of which explains the crazy phonetic spelling I’ve got going on here.)
We were ushered into a small dining room, where we were the only guests. A waiter appeared, and told us the first course would be Spaghetti, and the second course would be Steak. Then he disappeared to find someone to actually make this food.
From the kitchen we soon heard raised voices. Then RAISED voices. With our limited French and Spanish and German knowledge, we gathered that someone was very upset that we had been allowed into the restaurant. “WE CLOSE AT 8!” shouted a voice (I’m sparing you the accents now). “THEY ARE FRIENDS OF ARMIN!” “I’VE ALWAYS HATED YOU!!” (I may be making that last one up.)
And then the sound of crashing dishes being flung at the wall. More shouting. Some scuffling. We all prepared to get up and leave as quick as we could. Suddenly our waiter appeared with a food cart and a HUGE bowl of spaghetti, which he started scooping into our individual bowls. When he got to Rick S., who was last in line, he had about 5 portions left in the big bowl. Which he simply dumped into Rick’s bowl, spaghetti spilling over the sides onto the table. And then he left.
We were too freaked out to do or say anything, so we just started eating. Rick looked resignedly at his bowl and said “I am going to die.” Not from eating all the spaghetti, which was clearly impossible, but because he couldn’t eat it all, and leaving some of the food uneaten would obviously result in all of our deaths.
When we were just about done with the spaghetti, and plenty full, our waiter appeared with another food cart. Full of T-Bone steaks. He went around the table passing out the steaks. There was one extra. We stared at each other, wanting to be supportive, but totally prepared to throw any and each of us under the bus if need be.
“Keine?” the waiter inquired? None of really knew what that meant, but to ME it seemed to mean “Finished?” So I said “Yes, Keine!” with a big smile, trying to look very grateful. Apparently though, “Keine” actually means “Do you want some more?” And I had just said “Why YES, I’m famished!” Guess who got the last T-Bone? (Never be the first to talk. Never!)
We left a rather substantial tip. I like to think of it as protection money.