This past weekend, we hung out at the beach in San Benedetto. I had a gloriously flat run along the lungomare, the men cooked, I cleaned up (despite their half-hearted protests that I act like a "real" woman and cook--I think they remembered my attempt to make falafel) and, as I feel is my calling here, I dispelled yet another myth about America.
As we sat, post run, having a pre-lunch aperitivo, chatting with a couple of locals, a car pulled up next to a parked car and asked for directions.
“You don’t see this in NY, eh?”
“What? People ask for directions? Si!”
“No!”, F. exclaimed. “They take pistola and take the carrr.”
“No! Well, maybe sometimes. But not all the time.”
“Si si. I see ‘Taxi Driver’. Robert de Niro. ‘Tu parlate a me?’”
“It is not like movies! And 'Taxi Driver' was millanuovesettante-something. It's not like that! You can ask for directions. You don’t get shot or lose your car! And anyway, that happens here, too. I see the signs at the Autogrill on the Autostrada.”
“Eh, va be’. But not here. Maybe on autostrada.”
"You can ask for directions in America. Trust me."
And with that, we went back home to see if the panocchie were trying to walk out of the pot and back into the Adriatic.
These were purchased at the mercato by the port. The mussels were freed of their herbe, the clams of their sabbia and the panocchie of their will to live when confronted with a pot a full of garlic and oil.
I lobbied for no pasta, but apparently, lunch without pasta is worthy of a story on the nightly news, along with the story about the crazy sandwich I brought to the beach this summer, the one with mortadella and mustard.
Panocchie are strange little crustaceans, kind of crab/crawfish/lobsterish hybrids. Their tails are three times as long as their heads, with two little orange dots on them that look like eyes and spiny things poking out the tops that get stuck in your fingers as you try to rip them open to get at the meat that tastes an awful lot like crab. I’ve never seen them anywhere else but here and they are cheap--€5 a kilo—and oh so tasty. I might miss a lot of things from home, but panocchie can make up for some of it.
We had so many that on Sunday, we ate the rest without any pasta. A scenario inconceivable a few months ago. I think I may be rubbing off on the locals…….