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Aimo e Nadia


Steve Plotnicki
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But Milano should be a modern and efficient city where the buildings are clean/repaired and things work properly. That's the whole point of a city.

I feel the same way about San Francisco. Some feel that way about New York.

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San Francisco is modern and effecient, they just have those dumb hills there. They're fun the first time you ride up and down on them. But after a few times they are simply a pain.

What do you mean RIDE up and down. My wife broke her ankle playing tennis in Bend, Oregon and insisted we continue our trip down the coast to San Francisco. I was pushing her up and down those f....ing hills in a wheelchair for six f....ing days. The worst part was trying to keep a grip coming down because my hands were so sweaty. She nearly went sailing down on her own a couple of times I can tell you.

We took refuge in a cinema which was showing The Last Temptation of Christ. The entrance was thronged with protesters one of whom screamed at my wife "Seeing this won't heal you, cripple" as I pushed her in.

One good thing though. I lost a stone in a week.

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San Francisco is modern and effecient, they just have those dumb hills there. They're fun the first time you ride up and down on them. But after a few times they are simply a pain.

One good thing though. I lost a stone in a week.

Not still referring to your wife, here, I hope..... :unsure:

:laugh:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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But going on strike in the middle of the day, without any advance warning, now that is in a different class and begins to approach stupidity

Steve,

I think you don’t understand Italian culture. Each Italian is convinced that their individual opinion is worth being heard by the government. Italy is perhaps one of the most ‘democratic’ places on earth because of this attitude. This is why there are some many political parties – all who get their shot at stating their opinion on the many political discussion television programs.

The strike is a method of political communication held dear by the Italian working class as a way to communicate their grievances not only to the government, but to leaders of all the political parties. This is why the strikes are frequent but brief. These strikes are not a surprise to Italians as they are reported on the news every evening in a ‘strike report’ much like a weather report here. All you have to do is watch the news or read a newspaper and you will know that the train conductors will be on strike tomorrow from 10:00 to 14:00 – it is all quite organized.

The general strike is the granddaddy of them all. Everything closes down. You would think this is terrible, but in fact it is more like a holiday. Everyone knows it is coming and stocks up the day before and the day of the strike is filled with picnics and family gatherings while the workers who are making their statement hold their mass marches in the big cities. I quite enjoyed the last one, it was a beautiful day and we had a great cookout with friends.

In fact, the strikes of the toll collectors on the Autostrade are quite popular, because the toll road becomes free. The agents just leave, close the door, put a sign up and you can just drive through. Not long ago I saved €25.00 driving home from a wine tasting in Friuli.

Yes, all of this make a bit of a mess, but it is far more organized than you think. It’s because you don’t speak the language and perhaps because your mind is closed to the real beauties of the place. There must be a reason that Italy is the number one tourist destination in Europe.

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The comparison of eating in Italy vs. eating in the U.S. is foolish . . . .

Why?

In this context it was foolish. The comparison has nothing to do with the experience of Italian food or Italian competence.

Miss Nina, if you actually read Craig's comment he was NOT comparing eating in America to eating in Italy. He was only making the completely accurate statement that Italians hate the food in the States and, in my experience, hate the 'Italian' food served in the States even more. This is also my observation and I think Craig's point is that Mr Plotnicki hates Italian food in Italy and the Italians hate the Italian food as cooked in the US even more. This shows the massive gap between the parties and, as I've always said, it is a matter of personal opinion, just a matter of personal opinion.

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"Maybe there is another issue that I haven't yet raised. I don't think there is a reason not to like any food. As long as a food is eaten by people who actually know and like food, I can't think of a reason why that food should be considered bad unless it is an isolated instance of some sort. Maybe food can be an acquired taste but, what is the argument for saying blue cheese is bad other then you don't like the taste? And that is describing preferrence? "

What a great comment about understanding the diverse cooking styles and ingredients of the world. I think the comment 'actually know and like" is most appropriate. Can someone guess who wrote this - I forget the author? :rolleyes:

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I think Craig's point is that Mr Plotnicki hates Italian food in Italy and the Italians hate the Italian food as cooked in the US even more

Gee I don't hate Italian food in Italy, I happen to like it and have had many a good meal. What I have said is that I am typically disappointed in their dinner cuisine. That they excel at the tratorria level but are unsophisticated at the restaurant level when compared to other cuisines. On my Piemonte thread my friend who I quoted said it perfectly. Lunch is great but dinner is the same as lunch. And to make things worse, they try and make it fancier which screws it up all together. As for Italians eating in the U.S., well I can see that they wouldn't like it because they have a strange cuisine that doesn't translate well outside of Italy. When I was in Milan last week and was rushed for time (to make it to the airport for my cancelled flight, had I only known,) we had lunch at Bagutta which is a simple Tuscan tratorria on via Bagutta. I ordered the mozzarella appetizer,. What they served me was a half of an entire round of fresh mozzarella (terrific quality mind you, really flavorful) sliced on a plate. Not a tomato, a pepper etc. in sight. Just a cruet of really spicy and roasted olive oil (which I didn't care for) to dress the mozz with. Boy that is an odd way to serve cheese. A plate of cheese with nothing else. But Italy is full of those types of examples and I am sure that when Italians get to the U.S. they are often lost trying to figure out what to eat. The French on the other hand seem to have no problem. They are all in places like the Palm eating gigantic steaks and lobsters, or at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central having large platters of American oysters, or at Katz's having pastrami sandwiches. They are hamische those French.

Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)
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The French on the other hand seem to have no problem. They are all in places like the Palm eating gigantic steaks and lobsters, or at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central having large platters of American oysters, or at Katz's having pastrami sandwiches. They are hamische those French.

The Italians love those places in the US too - its the other places they don't like.

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For anyone who's interested, a most wonderful volume on the Italian people is The Italians by Luigi Barzini.

I will also order this book immediately as soon as I finish this message and let me add my tuppence worth of reading suggestions to a group which is thought provoking and interested in pursuing exceptional things.

Somehow the encounter between Anglo-Saxon and Italian cultures inspires writers, and there is some good fiction as well as non-fiction which results. Forget the popular books with fancy titles which are superficial and market driven. But there is insightful stuff which go even deeper than the academic work by social scientists. My own favorite is several books by "a lapsed Anglo-Saxon", Tim Parks. Having been brought up in suburban England by a Protestant minister father, Mr. Parks ended up setlling in Verona, thanks to marrying his companion Rita. ( As I understand he is now commuting to Milano to teach, but his base is still in Verona). What makes Parks so unique is that, while he is astonishingly aware of the cultural baggage that travels with him(i.e. the cliches, truisms and caricatures), he is not willing to "go native" without a fight and his resulting trials and tribulations make the stuff of remarkable literature. While he attempts to come to terms and understand( in the Weberian verstehen terms) the social fabric (ITALIAN NEIGHBORS), the socialisation of children(ITALIAN EDUCATION) and the remarkable institution of soccer (A SEASON WITH VERONA) in Italy, Mr. Parks often points the gun at himself and shoots some of his own demons, but his witty analysis always eschews easy answers. Some of his fiction which takes place in Verona is equally thought provoking, i.e. the novel JUGGLING THE STARS and it's sequel, MIMI's GHOST where he tells the story of his"alter-ego", Morris Duckworth, a handsome and pennyless English teacher who plots his way through the very upper echelons of Veronese society via marriage, appreciation of beatuful things and ...well murder when things go out of hand.

My wife and I were reading a set of essays by Parks (ADULTERY AND OTHER DIVERSIONS) and then discussing them during meals in Positano two years ago. Even less than stellar meals became enchanting. Enjoy....

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have a question for you (or anyone else for that matter.) In Italy when you go into a cafe for a drink, you have to pay first and then give the counterman your little ticket when you order. Why that custom? Is the entire country a bunch of serial latte macchiato thieves?

This system works quite well. The barrista is never tied up making change an so can concentrate on the work at hand - your coffee. I do not think it is the coffee they are afraid of being stolen.

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Well the barrista can only write the check up so there can still be a cashier. But you are implying that the barrista can steal from the cash register by keeping money aside for himself, or by writing bills that are less then the correct amount. No matter what, I don't see how any of it prevents stealing. I can go pay for a coffee and approach the barrista with my little white receipt for a 3 euro cup of coffe and a five euro note sticking out and ask him to give me a shot of 1959 Strathisla single malt Scotch which normally costs 25 euros. So you haven't convinced me. I do not know a country in the world where you pay first. Why Italy?

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Well the barrista can only write the check up so there can still be a cashier. But you are implying that the barrista can steal from the cash register by keeping money aside for himself, or by writing bills that are less then the correct amount. No matter what, I don't see how any of it prevents stealing. I can go pay for a coffee and approach the barrista with my little white receipt for a 3 euro cup of coffe and a five euro note sticking out and ask him to give me a shot of 1959 Strathisla single malt Scotch which normally costs 25 euros. So you haven't convinced me. I do not know a country in the world where you pay first. Why Italy?

You can pay after or before. It's only when they don't know you that you have to pay first.

I think the separation between dealing with money and dealing with food is very sensible and common in Italy and elsewhere.

Coins and bank-notes are dirty. If someone is handling the food with their bare hands you don't want them to handle the money as well.

Here in Paris, the butcher has a separate person you pay, at Bon Marche you pay someone else; in London at Lidgates and many other traditional shops you pay someone else. In England you pay in a pub before you get your drinks. Why are you making a big deal about this?

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Thanks for the titles in return, vmilor. I'll add them to my list.

An old book, but one that I think is excellent on the attitude of the English and others to southern Italian life is 'Old Calabria' by Norman Douglas. A very entertaining book.

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It's fine to seperate the two. But what does that have to do with paying first? Paying first can only be a matter of trust.

The only circumstances at which bars in Italy really insist on payment first is at places like airports and railway stations where it is clearly impractical to get people to pay afterwards if you are paying at a separate place. Again this is only if you are consuming at the bar; if you are seated you pay afterwards.

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Unfortunately there are now many places in the U. S. where you must pay first starting with gas stations and continuing through pay toilets. Even in Germany you leave a tip afterwads, not before. Most better American restaurants insist on either confirming a reservation by calling the diner the day of the reservation or by necessitating a call to the restaurant to reconfirm. Some restaurants that have this practice only have a couple of phone lines which make it really difficult to get through. This is a personal gripe of mine along with two and even three seatings at a better restaurant for dinner. In Europe at most better restaurants regardless of the country, the table is your's for the evening. That is definitely not true here.

I have found that many restaurants throughout Europe only need a date and time and do not ask for a confirmation. Some do, especially those in Paris, but not all. My wife and I leave on a trip tomorrow through Genoa and Florence and I have five reservations including three starred restaurants. Not a single one has asked for me to reconfirm nor to guarantee with my credit card. Three of the five did ask for a fax but I am certain this is so there is no misunderstanding because I do not speak Italian. In all five I made the reservation myself so they did not even have the security of a concierge of the hotel I may be staying at.. I find this to be really refreshing. Profitable? I don't know but as much as anything this is a commentary, I believe, on the attitude of the diner and his or her respect for a restaurant there versus here where so many really don't care.

I was struck that even El Bulli did not ask for a credit card confirmation although they did ask to reconfirm a week ahead, perhaps only because we are travelling from the U. S.

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The only circumstances at which bars in Italy really insist on payment first is at places like airports and railway stations where it is clearly impractical to get people to pay afterwards if you are paying at a separate place.

This is just not true. I just had to pay first at both the bar at Peck as well as at the bar of that chic tea salon that is at the corner of via Montenapoleone and via della Spiga. In fact I cannot recall a bar in Italy where you do not have to pay first. And I have found that many restaurants in Europe demand conformation including ones in Italy. Many years ago I remember showing up at a restaurant in Firenze for dinner and they had given our table away because we had forgotten to confirm the day before. And last year when I made a reseration at Gambero Rosso for dinner, they were adamant in telling me that they would "automatically" give my table away if I did not call the day before. And as for European restaurants not turning tables, it isn't that they let you have the table for the evening out of benevolence. In many instances they don't have enough demand to turn them.

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The only circumstances at which bars in Italy really insist on payment first is at places like airports and railway stations where it is clearly impractical to get people to pay afterwards if you are paying at a separate place.

This is just not true. I just had to pay first at both the bar at Peck as well as at the bar of that chic tea salon that is at the corner of via Montenapoleone and via della Spiga. In fact I cannot recall a bar in Italy where you do not have to pay first.

I am trying to explain why the habit in Italy that in general you pay first is not such an incredibly bizarre and disfunctional thing as you want to insist. To do this I was explaining that given you have a separation between paying and preparing the coffee, which seems not only reasonable but in many ways preferable, it clearly makes sense to have people pay before they consume rather than after, and to justify that I referred to the situation where in my experience (I lived in Rome for 8 years up until 2 months ago) this rule was most rigorously enforced, and most clearly justified. I will further say that of the 8 or so bars I went to regularly the only one which _enforced_ the rule after they recognised me, was at the airport, and that seemed to be a general rule (i.e. everybody pays first, even daily customers). This together with the fact that one of the characteristics of drinking coffee at a bar in Italy (at the bar itself) is that it is very quick, should suffice to explain the existence of this rule.

There are other places where one has to pay before consumption (Starbucks and so on) outside of Italy. I agree it can be slightly inconvenient, but it is really no more strange or unusual than many other rules in England or France or America. I don't think I have anything further to contribute to this discussion.

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