while I get ready for the shuttle that takes me downtown Rome to visit the Vatican today, I want to tell you a brief incident from Cagliari. I have to dive straight in the middle, forgive me, because I know youll have questions. Will answer later!
In Cagliari, we made a friend named Giovanni, who invited us one night to an authentic home style meal. He also let us use his computer for a minute, which was a huge blessing, because Cagliari had no sun, no internet, and about as much English.
Im on his computer checking my email (sorry, there are no apostrophes or hyphens on this Italian keyboard) when Nikki walks in with something in her mouth.
"Im eating horse," she tells me.
"Well, is it good?"
"Its tough, but tastes all right" and she walks out.
Horse, I think, I can handle that. When we sit down at the table, Giovanni puts down a huge, enormous plate of pasta. He reaches into his fridge, and pulls out some sort of oil to drizzle over the pasta. It didnt look very sanitary. Then he artfully sprinkled on some parmesan and something red and grainy.
We all sit down to eat, and the pasta is delicious. Another traveler, Daniel from Miami, is also eating with us, and he puts a slab of horse on my plate. I was hoping to avoid it, but I figured that at least it was well done, so it wasnt going to kill me. It was pretty good, actually.
Were happily munching away on pasta when Giovanni thrusts the jar of red grainy stuff under Daniels nose and says "Smell dees"
"Smells pretty strong, what is it?"
"Eets feesh eggs."
And I break out in a cold sweat, because those fish eggs appeared to have been sitting in his fridge for quite some time, and were not properly heated before being added to our pasta. But it was too late, I had already eaten everything.
We begin to talk about traditional Sardinian food with Giovanni, and he mentions a very traditional cheese that has live worms in it.
"When eets fraish," he says, "the worms, they jump."
I had heard of this cheese before, even seen it on television, but I had misremembered it as being French. Daniel expressed great disbelief over this cheese, when suddenly, Giovanni remembered that he had a hunk in the back of his fridge. This should have been an alarm, and I would also like to take this time to note that the water in Sardinia is not potable.
He offers Daniel a piece with a little worm in it. Daniel does not want to eat, and is trying very hard to politely decline, but you cannot decline food from a Sardinian. He finally eats it, and declares that it is "2 to 3 times stronger than Roquefort". When Gio offers a worm free piece to Nikki, and she declines, I quickly snatch it up, in fear of having a wormy piece being offered to me.
It was indeed stronger than Roquefort, but less horsey. Not too bad. I say so.
"No," says Gio, "Eets not so good. Eets not fraish, eets old. Eet is from June."
"Yees, is from June. Eets okay, worms keep from being toxic."
And I was immediately sad because I had not told my mother I loved her before eating. I was positive I was about to reach the end of my culinary expeditions, along with all my other life expeditions, in some forgotten corner of Sardinia.
But, I made it to Rome, and so far, my stomach has been totally happy. Its probably all the cannolis.
Vatican time! Love you!