Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, I present to you for your delight and wonder the gnocco fritto.
It was, when it arrived, a very heaped plate, but I was a bit slow off the mark with my camera as I don't normally photograph my food in restaurants. Here it is only a shadow of its former glory but you get the idea. The gnocco fritto is essentially a mountain of deep fried pizza dough balls topped with parma ham and sitting on generous spoonfuls of crescenza, a sort of sourish cream cheese.
I admit when it arrived I thought the all you can eat pizza place was being very cunning. Our starter was immensely filling, but they kept bringing fresh pizzas until even after A had admitted defeat. They even let us take home two extra pizzas in doggy bags (boxes?). The very spirit of generosity.
It got me thinking. Living in another country always does. Since living in Italy I think I've become more aware of some of my own personality traits that aren't very Italian. For example the classic general outrage at politics, bureaucracy and inefficiency that a lot of Brits get when going to... well anywhere except Japan really. But since it confirms everyone's innate sense of superiority its about as far as you get. I'm now well into my third year here now, and the balance is starting to tip the other way.
Why am I so stingy? Why am I so impatient? Why DO I have to walk so fast?!
I talked about the stinginess with A. Yes he agrees (!). I like to think I am thrifty but it's probably just stinginess. Sometimes I even find Italian generosity embarrassing. Like when I go to a A's dad's wife's shop to say hi, I worry she thinks I just expect free stuff because that's what I get. And she'll empty the fridge when we leave to make sure we have arm loads of tasty stuff to take back.
"But don't you wish that people would just sit down and stop offering you things?" I asked A, "You know stop playing host and just enjoy themselves?"
I don't think he really got what I meant, because he just pulled a face that translates I suppose as "meh".
I think I had the wrong end of the stick. I had a Eureka moment this morning.
Italians are generous because they ENJOY it!!
I have so much to learn.