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Sunday
Jun092013

The Question of Carne: Pork Tenderloin

I really learned to appreciate meat when we were in Italy.  Not Pasta.  Meat.

On several occasions, Margot and I ventured out of the Villa for a meal at a local restaurant.  As these restaurants find themselves in a tourist-rich environment, the menus are printed in Italian with the English translation directly below.  They are categorized as most menus are, as Pasta, Seafood, and “Carne” which is the Italian word for meat.  Under this heading, you’ll see, for instance, something along the lines of “carna alla (something in Italian)” and underneath, “meat with (English translation).” 

Should you find yourself interested in one of these dishes (and me not being a seafood eater), you might want to know more about it (such as what kind of meat it is). 

When the waiter arrived to take our order, it usually went something like this:

Me: “what is the carne alla something?”

Waiter: “Is meat with something”

Me: “What kind of meat”

Waiter: “Si, carne”

Me: “I know, but what kind of carne?”

Waiter: “Si, is meat”

Me: “Yes, but what kind?”

Waiter: “Carne, si.  Is meat.”

You are now in the Italian version of “who’s on first” and the waiter will continue in this manner for as long as you can hold out. 

Eventually I would give up and order the questionable carne (English translation: mystery meat).  I still don’t know what any of it was.  Maybe they don’t know either, or they don’t want you to know.  It may have been beef, pork, veal, or donkey.  Or Soylent Green.

Whatever you order, you have to remember that the pace is much slower in Italy, and after you place your order, kick back, relax and enjoy your wine and the people watching because it may be a bit of a wait until your food arrives. 

When it did, I noticed that the dish would bear a passing resemblance to the description on the menu, but not by much.   But by this time, they figure you will eat whatever they put in front of you, and they’re right.

The odd thing is, I wasn’t thrilled the food I in Italy.  I mean, it was good, but I was expecting to be blown away by everything I ate.  I wasn’t. 

It made me think of my Italian Grandmother.  When I was a kid, our family would periodically go out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants (Italian, of course.  There really wasn't any other kind.)  On rare occasions, we would talk my Grandmother into joining us. 

Afterwards, her critique of the meal was always, “Isa no like I make.”

I guess when it comes to the food in Italy, I could say, “Isa no like Margot make.”

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