I've been eating well this week, here in Venice. Pot roast. Turkey. Cranberries. Wild rice. Stuffing. Good American Thanksgiving meals and all the requisite leftovers.
Much as this is really good food, it was a nice break to spend yesterday eating Italian food, for a change. We had a proper multi-course Venetian lunch at Vini da Gigio, with classics such a meltingly-soft sarde in saor; squid-ink dyed spaghetti with a robust olive, tuna, and tomato sauce; duck alla burinella; roast branzino; and a wholly untraditional-but-excellent dessert of gianduia-flavored semifreddo with a crunchy crumbled bits of amaretti. And after one good, substantial meal, we went on (eventually) to a second.
The second was in Zevio, a small suburb in the orbit of Verona, and, with the exception of basic form, it was nothing at all like the first. It was the annual banquet for the regional Sport and Culture Association, beginning at 9 pm and lasting into the wee hours of the night. It began with lavish numbers of nibbles (the best of which were deep-fried zucchini blossoms) and a variety of drinks, including Bellinis, prosecco, and juices. It continued with two primi, the best part of the whole meal. The risotto was made with radicchio and flavored with amarone, turning it an entertaining pale purple, and giving it an intensely enthusiastic flavor. The ravioli were served with a nicely-balanced truffle cream sauce. The meats and their sidedishes were competent, but less interesting, but dessert returned to form, with a millefoglie layered with a chocolate-flecked ricotta-cream filling. Wine, water, and prosecco were ample, and the company delightful.
The dinner was punctuated by speeches and people winning raffle prizes. Afterwards, however, Valentina and her band took to the stand and the capacious dance floor filled up with dancers doing everything from line dances to waltzes to the bachata to novelty numbers. (I'm convinced that "Capitan Uncino" must have been released by a one-hit wonder band, although I haven't look it up. I hadn't realized that Italy had its own chicken dance, entirely different than the one I grew up with, except for the arm flapping.) It was an utterly Italian event, from the uniformity of skin tone to the quality of the food to the way in which more-or-less everyone knew the same kinds of social dancing. And it was a whole lot of fun.
I still have lots of good acqua alta photos I could post from the other day, but this is more representative of my past 24 hours - the roundabout outside my hotel window this morning, just off a motorway, somewhere in the orbit of Verona. Thematically, it too has water in it.