I almost can’t believe it: we’re half-way through.
Today is the seventh day of July, so in fact we’re officially past the six-month mark. After an entire June of clammy wetness it’s finally starting to look more like summer here in Vermont… the marble-quarry swimming hole was full of people when I drove by this afternoon. Also, I hear strawberry season is practically over, (didn’t it just start?) so I hurried out and bought two quarts… never mind going picking.
Of course, summer in Vermont has truly arrived just in time for us to go away: we’re preparing for a trip. A big trip. We leave Sunday for two weeks in Italy.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re not thinking: “Gee, will Eve ‘s family visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa? The Vatican? The Coliseum?” I know you’re not thinking that because that’s not what everyone here has been asking me. What everyone here has been asking me is: “Oo! What are you going to do about the Sugar Project?”
Yeeeaaaaah. Good question. It’s one to which I have given much thought, but have yet to receive any brilliant revelations about. My circular thought pattern runs something like this: the Italians are serious about their food, in particular fresh, homemade food- this will be extremely helpful. Also very helpful will be the fact that the Italians aren’t too big on desserts- gelato and tiramisu notwithstanding. The first time our family went to Italy two years ago I recall more than one instance in restaurants when we had to ask if, in fact, there was any dessert to be had. It was often an afterthought, as in: “Oh! Yeah- we have dessert… Would you like dessert?”
In one of the more local establishments we ordered two different desserts and both struck my American palate as… not very good. Instead they were creamy and cake-y and lemon-y and almond-y. They were not what I would call sweet. I didn’t care for them very much- at that point I was still looking for that taste explosion at the end of a good meal to signify it’s end, like fireworks at the end of the Fourth of July festivities. I mean, you just can’t go home till the grand finale practically blows your eardrums out- or taste buds off as the case may be. We Americans are not big on subtlety.
Therefore, by comparison, we should be in good shape, right? No one will be tempting us with deep-fried Twinkies or Death-by-Chocolate Sundays… However. Gelato is good. Really, really good. Did you know that you can request “crema” on top and they will put a perfect little dollop of whipped-cream on top? Did you know it will likely be between eighty and ninety degrees our entire first week? Do you think, at the tourist-thronged landmarks we are sure to be visiting, we’re going to be encountering gelato every-blinking-where we go?
So last night we had a babysitter and Steve and I hashed it out over dinner.
My husband started out the bargaining. “How about one dessert per day?” he helpfully suggested. I about spit out my drink. I pointed out that, on a fourteen day trip, this would result in us having more desserts in the month of July than we would have in the entirety of 2011.
“How about one dessert for the whole trip- our July dessert?” I countered. The look of abject horror on his face was impressive.
“Now, we’re not going half-way around the world to torture our children with wonderful ice cream they can’t have.” Oo! The “torturing your children” card- well played!
“How about one dessert per week?” I re-countered. As you can imagine, this went on for some time.
Other ideas were floated: what about family voting on a case-by-case basis? Although this appealed to my democratic side, I’m reasonably confident that my otherwise very-supportive family, when faced with an Italian gelato stand in all its glory, would nonetheless vote the No Sugar Project out every time- possibly before breakfast.
By the end of our meal we seemed to have reached some sort of consensus: we will, of course, have our July dessert in Italy. Very likely, we’ll end up having more than one dessert during the course of our trip. Whatever we have will be rare and special. So, basically, we’re going to wing it.
On the whole, Italians seem to have gotten the sweets question right… enjoying little wonderful golf-ball-sized scoops of gelato as a special treat is a lesson we “more-is-more” Americans would do well to learn.
Then again, I’ve been to Italy four times in my life, and every time I go I’m dismayed to see that the gelato scoops have gotten a little bit bigger. Ever so gradually, they’re becoming more American.