Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The honeymoon's over

Have just returned from a week here, where I managed to get far, far away from computer screens and seriousness. Ravello is a heart-stoppingly beautiful place, slightly less touristed out than the rest of the Amalfi coast, which is made up of tiny colorful towns clinging limpet-like to rocky cliffs along the Bay of Naples. I spent a large portion of the trip clinging limpet-like to the Oh Jesus handles on the passenger side of our tiny rented smart car as completely insane Italian drivers bore down on us, refusing to give way, slow down or drive in anything approaching a reasonable manner. And all this on a single-lane cliffside road that was essentially one 30-mile-long hairpin turn. Oy vey.

Before leaving, I consulted the international message boards at Chowhound to ensure that we’d eat well in Italia, and the hounds did not disappoint. We had amazing meals at Lido Azurro on the docks in Amalfi and Acqua Pazza in the appealingly chilled out fishing town of Cetara. We also embarked on a hair-raising drive over the Lattari mountains in search of extra virgin olive oil. We found someone who spoke english in Agarola and followed his directions to the outskirts of Pimonte, where we managed to identify an olive oil producer and blundered our way through a charades-like transaction. And now a massive five liter unlabelled plastic jug of musty green oil squats on our kitchen counter, tasting dark and spicy and about as far from our tesco’s extra virgin as it could be. I see many great salad dressings ahead. For, like, the next three years.

I have been following the news from New Orleans with much sadness and anger. Two of my favorite American columnists, Molly Ivins and Maureen Dowd, have risen to the occasion, writing op-eds infused with righteous wrath and packed with frightening information. Michael Moore has also nailed it with his letter to Bush. There are encouraging signs that the American public is waking up at last. But it’s horribly sad that this had to happen to bring that about.

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