Back to back
The great alpine divide between Italy and Germany is more than an atmospheric barricade. Our motherland, Italia, opens her arms wide toward the sunny Mediterranean peninsula, indulgently allowing her children run off and play. Whereas the northern slopes of the fatherland bend to sit the children firmly on a lederhosen buttoned knee.
The two realms have provided us with a home in each, although the northern home is yet to be fully occupied. We are on the brink of renovating the house and attempting to create a modest garden of Eden.
Having one foot in Rome and a new foot in Allgau (Bavaria) makes an interesting gait. For every two steps taken with our German boots we do one flip-flop in roman sandals.
red sticky tape
Getting things done in Allgau might entail a small piece of red tape here and there. Nothing a short phone call or email can’t instantly snip. So far so good considering the year is 2020.
Recently when renovating the facade of our house in Marino we experienced some unpredictable responses based on jealousy, ancient feuds, boredom and fear of retribution. Bringing to mind all the mystery and drama Shakespeare found intriguing enough to write plays about. His epic tales are simplified versions of the stories presently being carried into the future on the shoulders of our locals.
To illustrate my point let’s start with the most simple thing you can imagine doing in Italy… cooking the spaghetti. Make sure the spaghetti is nr.5, or choose a pack of spaghettini or spaghettoni depending on the richness of your preferred sugo. A spaghetti pot is that size and shape for a very specific reason and the correct amount of water per 100 grams is essential. Coarse salt is added at the precise moment the water begins to boil. Add the pasta after that. Remember the heavier the pasta the richer the sauce. Timing is all important for the perfect ‘al dente’. Serve immediately to the Cin cin of a glass of wine made by a winery you know, then tuck in with a vertical twist of a fork.
Comparable is the cooking of Weiss würst in Allgau. Warm up the white sausages in a pot of hot water, don’t boil or the skin might split. Swallow the skin at your own risk. Serve with a good dollop of mustard and a Weissbier or three. Nobody cares whether you know what the skin is made from, or what is inside that sausage. You will be trained to clunk the base of your beer glass with others at the table (not to crack the rim), then shout PROST and as you do so, please acknowledge them by looking into each others eyes.
As you all know, these things can be difficult. We suspect the renovation will present some Alpine challenges. Not to mention the language barrier. Mark Twain said that he “never knew before what eternity was made for. It is to give some of us a chance to learn German.”
Luckily Simon is the boss and likes to keep tabs. I’ll keep you posted on the project, in the meantime I’m shuffling around in sandals on our sunny terrace in madre Italia watering a potted lemon tree and sipping on a proper cappuccino. Che bello!