22 September 2022
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Italy Two

Italy Has Food

Disregarding such subjective issues as individual preferences, food undeniably has two important characteristics: quality and quantity. Despite my embarkation on this touristic expedition, I was not and am not a "foodie." My four basic food groups are chocolate, sugar, butter, and bacon. If I had to construct a "food pyramid," I'd cover the top with whipped cream.

OK? Please don't expect either subtlety or ecstasizing here. I do subscribe to the "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" theory, which accounts for my Nutella* consumption. I'm fortunate that breakfast usually includes an egg, which may prevent pellagra, rickets, scurvy or some other horrible deficiency disease that I've thus far managed to avoid.

Before we left for Italy, we stayed overnight at the Hilton hotel near PHX, where our first flight originated. The Phoenix Airport Hilton had a breakfast buffet. At the right is a photo of part of the selection.

The cheese blitzes[sic] taste about as good as you think they do. The bacon was underdone, but at least had plenty of grease. (Guess whose plate has the banana and bacon.)

In Italy, Breakfast is Different!

We stayed at three different hotels, and even the smallest of them had a magnificent spread of breakfast comestibles. Not being a foodie, I neglected to photographically document all the buffets, concentrating only on my food groups. But in addition to those items in the photos, they had fruit (including bananas!), cereals, packaged and unpackaged snacks, meat, eggs of various preparations, and condiments of every description. One hotel had smoked salmon and bagels!

The above two photos are not fully representative of the capacious spread at the Turin Palace Hotel. They even had what many people would consider "food."

The photo at the left is from the Grand Hotel Dino on Lake Maggiore. It, too, was bountiful, complemented by gracious outdoor dining overlooking their pier and the lake itself.

For whatever reason, the desserts caused me to became distracted when selecting supplementary victuals.

But Italy is More Than Breakfast!

It's also carpaccio with tuna sauce...

Casa Crippa Restaurant Other restaurants representative sample

One of the first restaurants our tour group visited was the Casa Crippa, where we were initiated into the mysteries of veal carpaccio with tuna sauce. Total yumminess! And it was just the appetizer, followed by risotto and a pasta dish, both unphotographed and so forgotten.

For better or worse, many subsequent restaurants also proffered that same dish. Perhaps it's the sub-national dish of Northern Italy, or at least the Piedmont area. For better, I loved it, and pretty much everything else we had at an endless succession of fine restaurants, many of which appeared totally unprepossessing. In fact, for the entire trip, we had exactly one not-delicious meal. It was something called polenta, which was covered with a cheese sauce of mysterious provenance. I prefer polenta's Romanian name, mamaliga, which is at least fun to say if not to eat. So much for the aforementioned "quality" issue.

What About Quantity?

Without venturing into the TMI void, let's just say that after a day or two, I learned to eat no more than half of each entrée, and often even less of any non-chocolatic dessert. The hotel rooms, perhaps with premeditation, sported no bathroom scales. Their lack contributed to the trepidation I felt immediately upon returning home, which trepidation turned out to be only partly justified. Semi-Whew!

Cappuccino Rules!

Not in the colloquial sense, though. There actually are cappuccino rules. In Italy, one isn't allowed to have a cappuccino after noon. When beverage selections were available at lunch or dinner, I petitioned our tour guide to request a cappuccino on my behalf. She must have been very persuasive, as she often succeeded. Thank you, Carol. I'm almost as pleased as you are that you weren't banished.

* Nutella is basically chocolate and hazelnuts, or in Italian, nocciola. Nuts could be a food group, too, except peanut butter is made from peanuts, which aren't nuts at all, according to something I read years ago and about which I now care even less.

The word for hazelnut in French, noisette, sounds too much like an AirPod, but count on the Germans (haselnuss) and especially the Dutch (hazelnoot) to come up with entertaining variations.

Richard Factor


"Mrs. Mckenzie"

Janis Ian



Souvenir from the Lake Placid Winter Olympics in 1980. Don't remember exactly how I got this shirt, but I should mention that a friend of mine, Eric Rosenthal, got an Emmy for his work there with WABC.

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