Monday, November 10, 2003

Nights out in Verona - #2 in an occasional series

I felt ill yesterday evening: headache, clogged-up sinuses, that sort of thing. I was always taught to stock up on vitamin C in such circumstances. I think recent research has shown this to only have minimal effect but one likes to take comfort in regressing to childhood habits and refinding that feeling of safety that motherly love engenders. Besides, isn’t it true that believing something to have a positive effect is halfway to acheiving the effect, even if the belief is misfounded? I wonder if, because its so well ground into you, that still holds even if your conscious mind knows that it doesn’t. Seemed to work with me last night as I felt a bit better after a dinner of tangerines and kiwi fruits. (It also seems to work with the fervently religious who persist in holding beliefs in things despite mountains of irrefutable evidence against them - sorry, but I can’t resist a dig at the twits.) I felt good enough to go out, although the evening's frivolities were only over on the other side of the piazza so I didn't have far to go.

Having good, cheap red wine as a society’s default alcohol of choice is obviously far superior to having lager fill the same hole. But it’s so easy to knock the stuff back that waking up and not feeling like somebody’s taken a hammer to your head during the night would be irresponsible. As you can guess, we had fun, even if the others weren’t as keen as I was to dance with the pretty Italians. Still, it’s nice to be molested by attractive (and sober!) members of the opposite sex when you're at the bar.

It really wasn’t so different from a thousand similar bars back home: loud with good, funky decor, lots of smiling people dancing in whatever space they can find... you’ve been there.

But there were two big differences to the standard Saturday night out that I’m familiar with. First: there’s no drunken snogging. My instinct is to think that the Italians are missing out there but – and this is difference number two – that’s more than compensated for by quality of the takeaway food on offer late at night (or anytime, for that matter). I’ll see your drunken snog and raise you pizza al taglio:

It’s sold by weight and tastes as good as it looks. I may have lamented the lack of diversity in the Italian diet a couple of days ago but, wow, what they do do they do well. Very well. But there’s also a whole range of balls and pasties filled with various combinations of the usual Italian fillings: tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach, artichokes, mushrooms, ham, etc. And they’re not greasy or chewy. The panzarotti – a bit like a pasty made with floury dough – I had last night was simply wonderful. Red wine and healthy take-aways - what a civilisied Saturday night.

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