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Only in America

News of Very Narrow Interest

As a person whose wardrobe has an average age measured in decades, I’m usually not one to walk into a clothing store on a whim. Certainly not a fashionable men’s shop in Venice, Italy. In full tourist mode I couldn’t resist the lure of the soft fabric and beautiful colors and what looked like a great deal. The shopkeeper picked up immediately on my interest and in slightly accented English offered: “We have them in extra-large.” XL! My meek reply that I wear a medium was met by a kind but firm: “No, extra-large.”Hearing me pathetically trying to negotiate my size, he allowed that maybe a large would be ok, but you knew his heart wasn’t in it. Only in America am I a medium. And after two weeks in Italy, barely. I quietly left the store.

This experience proved to be the exception. Generally, the Italians we encountered were very accommodating and willing to “go along to get along”. Want to split an entrée? Not a problem. Unsure about the wine.

Don’t worry, if you don’t like it, we’re happy to take it back. Try splitting a dish in Paris. Not going to happen. What do you think this is, America? The French make it pretty clear who’s running the show.

That’s not to say that Italians don’t have a strong self-image. They are very protective of the food and culture of their city and region. In fact, every city we visited had a protector. A person, usually a saint, who people believed had protected the city from harm down through the ages. St. Mark in Venice. St. Petronius in Bologna. At the very least it made for a lot of statuary and provided great narratives for the tour guides. Maybe Salisbury should designate someone as its official protector. Can you imagine that discussion at a town meeting!

Spend any amount of time there and you realize that the Italian sensibility always comes back to food. Cooking food, eating food, and talking about food. As we sat outside on a beautiful afternoon overlooking a Venice canal my enthusiastic approach to eating had produced a war zone of food stains. Right on cue our server was tableside deftly covering the detritus with a “napkin of shame”, while expressing his pleasure that I had enjoyed myself.

Calorie counting, portion control, no bread, no carbs, dry January?

Only in America.


M.A. Duca is a resident of Twin Lakes, narrowly focused on everyday life.

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