Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lower Your Expecations - Riduci le Aspettative

When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either. This phrase by Leo Burnett, fixed in my heart, has inspired almost everything I did, since I left Italy in 1996. I learned to dream, believed in dreams and made some happen. In several occasions, though, I was hit by expectations. Expectations hurt. John says that the best way to live is to not expect anything in life. When you don't expect, every moment is a surprise and surprises bring happiness.

My mother used to say, "non tutto il male vien per nuocere" (not all the bad comes to hurt us). Is this statement really true or is it our way of hoping that something good will come from it so we can accept life?

Talking about expectations not met, why do the Italians make grandiose promises and commit to doing things that are important to others, act as if they will do their best to stick to them to help out and then, all of a sudden, for their own selfish reasons, take the courage to tell you, after you have asked them why they are no longer committed, that you can no longer rely on them? Why are commitment, responsibility and respect such difficult concepts to grasp for an Italian? Once again, an Italian, originally filled with the best possible intentions, has let me down.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Another post on the American food - Un altro post sul cibo Americano

I really don't want to turn this blog into a place where to constantly complain and to be preachy about food but hell, it is hard not to think about such every day issue. This is the first comment I received from my English friend, currently in vacation in New England:

We are having such issues with the food here. It's crazy. Last night we got given free breadsticks and salads with crutons and cheese!!! That's before we ordered. Then I ordered the low calorie light option, according to the menu, which was lasagna with extra chicken- how is that low in calorie??!!!

I know that some of you would not be freaked out by the addition of extra cheese on  pizza and lasagna, nor from the presence of an extra layer of olives on already overly seasoned fish, but there is a limit in what one can do to destroy a dish, for example, adding an entire steak on top of a pasta dish with tomato sauce, putting a mountain of mayonnaise and a variety of ingredients covering up the taste of fish in sushi, turning Chinese and Thai dishes into a sugar IV or serving a saucepan filled with pasta sauce and a few spaghetti in it.

No matter how hard I try to convince myself to try new restaurants, and despite designing a website mapping the top restaurants in the Boston area (Enrica's Best Boston Restaurants), I have come to reject the idea of going out for dinner in Boston. Not to mention lunch, which in the US is either fast-food or optional. 

I don't understand, am I failing to appreciate the daily calories overload of the layers of processed food they stick in my sandwich, the usual six slices of ham topped with bacon and onions, without me asking for them? John often tells me that I should specify to the server what I don't want. Basically, I should remember to say that I don't want onions, nor sauces, nor pickles, nor bacon, nor a whole package of poor quality ham, nor slices of tomatoes with the taste of water... what else?

Bread? Basically, to be on the safe side, when I order lunch here in the US, I should stick to bread (usually, not fresh) and cheese. I must confess, Tronk's lunches, which I usually prepare at home in advance, are far superior and I am often tempted to ask him to share it with me.

As far as dinner is concerned, there is one thing which is never disappointing here in New England: shellfish. Tronk and I often compete on who is going to get the bigger mussels.
More, please!
He is a seafood monster. Two days ago, he said that he likes the taste of oysters even more than the taste of mussels.

That said, I always feel there is nothing like homemade food, even when I don't do a good job. It is still better than going out for dinner.