Last night Peppe’s coworker, Francesco, invited us to a “small dinner” with his family at their home just outside the city center. (Pictured above is his other coworker Nicola) I wanted to eat gelato earlier in the evening and Peppe told me not to, so as to save all the room in my stomach for dinner, and I’m so happy I did. It’s inevitable that only a short matter of time passed before a food related post came up!
Francesco’s parents and his girlfriend Katia were preparing panzerotti – a dish from the Southern region of Puglia, which is basically a small, folded, stuffed and fried pizza bread. Classically, it is filled with mozzarella and tomato but we also had onion with olive and my favorite was eggs and cheese.
While the panzerotti was frying they served us tuna sandwiches, rosemary potato chips, and sundried tomatoes in oil (I was obsessed with these, they were so sweet and tangy!) From the moment we arrived, our mouths were occupied.
Of course, I was the only American, and the only one who didn’t speak Italian. I’ve been slowly yet surely learning the basics, but because they were all from the South of Italy, everyone spoke using dialects that Peppe describes as almost a completely separate language. Francesco’s mom pointed around the room “Lui Italiano, Lui Italiano, Lei Italiano…” and so on, saying that everyone there was Italian and speaking Italian and that was the best way to learn, by listening. I picked up a few words here and there and I could understand the general context of the conversation. however, the extent of my speaking was “dov’è il bagno??” and “il cibo è buonissimo, grazie!” I was mostly quiet, studying the pacing of conversation and where enunciation was placed on words and in sentences.
This was my first experience of a fully authentic Italian family meal, and obviously I was no where near disappointed. I couldn’t appropriately express my gratitude, though I’m sure clearing three plates and munching endlessly means a lot to an Italian mom.