I could visit major landmarks. I could peruse famous museums. But you know what I'd rather do to expand my cultural horizons?
Browse a local supermarket.
Okay, maybe I don't want to "expand my cultural horizons" as much as "pick up something tasty for dinner," but supermarkets are just as fun as...as...well. They're fun, period. At least, if you're a tourist. Otherwise I suppose the process of regularly buying sustenance is another drudgery of life. (Today, for instance, is the designated "Grocery Day" in the Lee household. It's nearly 5 PM. I'm still in my pajamas. And I don't want to go to the grocery store until after dinner when the fridge will have slightly enough food to support half a squirrel.)
"It looks like a giant hot dog."
I eagerly eyed the mortadella as the Meat Dude sliced it per Morten's request. In response to overhearing Morten describe the properties of mortadella to me—a mortadella virgin—Meat Dude came over to hand me a complimentary slice.
I popped the paper-thin, soft as silk slice of finely mashed pork sausage into my mouth. My taste buds silently
squealed (I realized that "squealed" is not the world I was looking for; it's not very Robyn-ish. So I would prefer to use another word., but I can't think of the right one. "Flopped over in submissive happiness," maybe?) in approval to the mildly spiced, porky essence. I could see why Morten was so obsessed with this foodstuff.
We retreated to the apartment and ate snacks while sitting on our balcony. I took a strong liking to one of Morten's favorite cookies, Pan di Stelle. They won't evoke any sense of wonder or amazement upon first bite, but eat about 20 of them and, hey, turns out they're rather addictive. Kinda like how you can't stop eating potato chips, but if the potato chips were crispy, mildly chocolate flavored, lightly sweetened cookies with star-like protrusions bursting forth from their surfaces.
We went into the city center to do some shopping of the food-unrelated sort. Most stores were rather boring or didn't carry anything I would actually look good in (my lump-like body shape is what makes shopping for clothing so difficult) until we stumbled across Pull and Bear, a Spanish clothing store chain found in many European countries but nowhere in the US. It reminded me of Urban Outfitters, but...cleaner. Or with nicer designs (nothing particularly crazy going on, for better or worse), but I could be biased because Urban Outfitters elicits a "meh" from most of my friends and me (even if they do have nice things every once in a while). Their clothing was fairly inexpensive, thus I felt no qualms about buying the awesomest t-shirt ever, festooned with lots of little happy malformed doodlings floating about.
Oh, I hope I don't get sued for posting this photo. They don't allow photography, as I found out when an employee swooped down on me after I snapped the photo. The things I do for you! [shakes head]
Morten hopped into a byrek shop that we randomly came across during our wanderings. He emerged carrying a flat, flaky pancake-ish thing with a crispy outer layer filled with seasoned chopped onions and ground beef. It's a nice snack to eat on the run, more convenient than a slice of pizza at least.
Gelato is never far away in Bologna. While I had originally planned on not indulging in a creamy treat that afternoon, going as far as to enter the shop and leave empty handed (gasp, horror), I went back inside after observing Morten and his gelato popsicle-induced happiness, desiring the same for myself.
A minute and 2 euros later I returned to the ledge outside the gelateria with a dainty, cork-shaped chocolate-dipped pistachio popsicle. Crunching through the shell gave way to dense, creamy pistachio goodness. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Walking northward we passed a rack for public bikes. We didn't know there was a public bike system in Bologna! Not just that, but a free system (with a deposit). How nice Bologna is.
The 3/4ths of our group that isn't named Robyn felt a dip in their blood sugar levels, causing us to stop into Bombocrep. Is it wrong that I'm not a big fan of crepes? It's not like there's anything wrong with them—they present the marriage of dough and sugar quite nicely—but it's...it's so little. I don't know. My gluttonous ways desire a giant chunk of cake or a fluffy American-style pancake.
I watched the others tuck into their crepes. From afar. Ostracized. By the crepe.
Next stop was Swinebar. See, it's like a winebar, but with a pigly twist. HA HA? Yes, it's cute.
We sat in the cozy outdoor section across from the bar. Since Diana and I didn't drink coffee or alcohol, choosing what to order was a bit difficult. We settled on what I think was just a caffé con panna, a wee bit of espresso accompanied by a large cup of regular milk topped with foamy milk and possibly another form of milk frothing from within.
Is this what Italians drink in the afternoon? Oh, hell no. While I kind of had that idea, no one had warned me that the waiter would shoot us a brief but unmistakable bug-eyed look of horror tinged with disgust as Diana and I ordered the same drink that dared disturb the pattern of Italian drinking habits. I imagine he thought something like, "What is wrong with these Americans? Have they no sense? Why do I deal with these people? Can I go home now?" But in Italian. Then again, he may have been used to us misguided sort as the place seemed to be popular with tourists (we weren't the only Americans there).
The caffé was nice. With the appropriate amount of sugar. Being diluted by 600% milk also helped.
Sweet jesus, how it piled. A beautiful mound of golden baby pillows of fried dough glowed with "soon to be in my belly" fatty goodness and was accompanied by an assortment of porky cold cuts (cured meats, ground pork things and such) and a side of squaquerone. I ate at least four of these pillows, ripping a piece open, spreading on a bit of the rich, creamy mild cheese and then stuffing in a slice of meat (mortadella being my favorite, of course) for some sort of miniature fried meaty cheesy sandwich.
I ATE FOUR OF THESE. FOOUUUUR. You would've too in my position of mild stomach discomfort. I ignored the distended belly, for the heavenly trio that is crescentina-mortadella-squaquerone is a rare occurrence. Take it when you can.
The problem of eating four stuffed crescentina became apparent when I received my main course: a giant hunka lasagna, tinted green with what I suppose was spinachy pasta. Although it was a beautiful thing, probably the best lasagna I've ever had (which may not be saying much since I rarely eat it) with a nice top layer of crisped meat bits and cheese, not too much sauce as to make everything slip around and al dente pasta sheets, there was absolutely no way I could finish it. I think I ate about half of it, and even that was a struggle against the muscles of my stomach, which appeared to stop functioning in opposition to my neverending food shoveling.
Since Diana didn't eat the crescentina (her body opposes deep fried foods), she had enough room for dessert! ...Well, some of it. I ended up finishing off the last chunk of her panna cotta. Come on, there's always room for panna cotta.
If you're curious to see what I do when presented with a paper placemat, there it is above. Strange nonsensical doodlings interspersed with fat stains take over. If some of the drawings look a little too skillful, it's because Diana drew them. Click on the scan for more info.
Gelato doesn't take up room either, you know. At Morten's insistence (it's peer pressure, I tell ya) I got a cup of hazelnut and crema topped with a splodge of fresh whipped cream from Gelateria Delle Moline. We were sitting at a table outside the gelato without a care in the world besides my brain telling me that human stomachs weren't designed to hold or digest that much food, when tragedy struck.
A slip of the hand. A failure in friction. An upturned cup of gelato. A quick gasp. Physics.
My cup fell on the ground. Sometimes the 5 second rule just doesn't apply, this being one of those times. Luckily the panna took most of the hit and I was able to salvage a good deal of the gelato, but it was still sad to see the panna residue on the ground.
Goodbye, my fallen panna, forever immortalized as an unsightly splat next to Morten's shoe.
A message to people in NYC who like live music, the kind that one can sit down and chill out to
- Magnet, taken by ldandersen
UPDATE (10/16/07): He canceled his NYC shows due to an illness in the family. I'm leaving up my original post since he's touring around the rest of the country and if you live in a city he's visiting you could still see him. Let me know if you do!
He hails from the land of the Weegies, but is touring in the US for a while, more specifically this Friday and Saturday at Joe's Pub in NYC. He doesn't come often, so if you have just the slightest interest in seeing him, you should go see him. Seriously, I push him like a drug dealer peddles crack because it means a lot to me. Magnet, not crack. If I can get at least one person to be like, "Hey, this guy is cool!" then I'll have done something mildly useful. (On that note, I'll admit that his first release was my favorite and I've liked every subsequent one a little bit less, meaning that his latest release is my least favorite, but...I still like it, yes.) His live performances are usually better than how he sounds on his albums. I've seen him perform six times so I should know by now.
I'm going to both of his NYC shows. Will probably do some fooding beforehand (cough cough), so if anyone else is interested in going let me know and maybe we can hang. With food.