Mama Mia Melanzane!

ImageWho puts eggplant on a PIZZA? Italians do. And they do it in such an unapologetic way. The pizza tastes amazing. And, I’m left feeling a little bit smug that I ate local food and cultural food. Not so much smug that I ate the equivalent of 4 servings of breads with that giant crust, but not every meal is a winner. Plus, I finished off with a €7 bowl of strawberries (yes, you read that right. That little bowl of berries and lemon cost me $10. Ouch)

Is that a giant hand? Nope. Tiny cup. First espresso on Italian soil this year.

I’m surprised by how emotional I feel about being back in Rome, back in Italy. From the first breath at the airport, you can feel the humidity and unique perfume of this Mediterranean boot. It doesn’t hurt that I left snow and 1 degree and arrived to sun and 28 degrees. But beyond the weather, my heart is moved. Unlike any time before, I have a sense of coming home. A sense, perhaps, that I am living, accessing in a direct way, a feeling of purpose. Maybe it’s more the REASON that I’m home than the FACT that I’m home?

Five years ago I taught a lecture about Slow Food and about Terra Madre (then it had only happened twice) and now, here I am, about to be a Canadian delegate to the International Congress in Turin. So maybe that’s lighting my fire here. I feel a strong sense of possibility, of opportunity, of confidence that I can pursue my dream. That I am steps away from the threshold, and the only remaining barrier is me. Like many of us, I sometimes stand in the way. My indecision. My insecurities. My fear of failure. On the upside, experiencing significant failure in the past year has made it clear to me that it is survivable and that the world doesn’t think less of me now. Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. How easy is it to speak those words, and a whole other to embody them personally.

[Oh dammit. Post espresso, I had almost finished suffering through the burning glass grappa when I knocked over the last third of the glass. The server immediately fetched me another. Dam!! No I have to go through this all again, and I can’t even shoot this tequila-esque concoction. I have to sip it! Can he see my chest shudder as I let the burn settle down through my throat? I should never have cussed in Italian when I spilled it, he may have mistaken that for disappointment in losing the beverage.]Is that a giant hand? Nope. Tiny cup. First espresso on Italian soil this year.

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