Buffet Night

Every Tuesday, there’s a buffet dinner at the school which, in order to fill the gap between Matteo leaving and Carlo getting up to speed, Henry and I offered to handle.

I think the photos will tell the story best, and it all went smoothly, so there’s not a lot to this story. It’s just that it’s hard enough to shop for 34 people, but add in the foreign culture, and it becomes less of a chore and more of a funny what-the-HELL-are-we-DOING? experience.

One hundred fifty seven Euros later, we had sixty rolls, 18 packages of deli meats, 16 two-liter bottles of beverages (from two different types of water—gas and no gas—to peach-flavored iced tea, to orange soda to fill-you-own-empty-water-bottle-with-wine wine), melons, peaches, chips, a tablecloth on a huge roll, utensils, green olives, black olives, tomatoes, basil, condiments, and more.  The woman at the bakery counter was very patient as she loaded six types of rolls, ten of each, into three huge sacks. The guy with the number behind us was patient, too, which is not uncommon. There are a lot of lines and people just wait like they have all the time in the world, which they do seem to have if promptness is any indication. It is assumed that an arrival time of 1:00 means 1:30. No apology necessary at all. And by the way, this “patient” business does not apply to Italians when they’re driving. But the world knows this already.

An aside: one thing Italians never did, but they do now, unfortunately, is talk on the phone while driving. They got used to the whole cell phone thing way before we Americans did, and seemed to treat driving with more respect than to be distracted by a phone. And the laws were tough on violators. No longer. One-handed drivers flapping away on their phones just like Americans are common now. Total bummer because the last thing I need is for them to be distracted on top of aggressive.

But I digress. We got to the counter and bagged furiously to keep up with it all and not make the folks behind us wait, ALL of whom had only one or two items each. They don’t have those 12-items-or-less lines, I guess. I even tried to let the poor soul behind me with one box of tampons go in front of us, but the cashier would have none of that. Courtesies like this are not a thing. Just sayin!

It started to sprinkle, lightning, thunder and soon POUR, just as Henry and I pulled into the school. I got a great spot right in front. We opened all the windows in our big buffet room, which is on the second floor of the school and opens up onto a sort of patio. We even needed to turn on the lights because of how dark the sky had become. It was really cozy.

Several students came early and helped—and I mean really helped, with beautiful artful displays of sliced tomatoes, basil and mozzarella; cantaloupe, watermelon. It’s what you get when you give an art student a cutting board, a steak knife and a bunch of produce! Then Fred came with the music—a CD mix he puts together on which every song has particular meaning if you listen closely, and if you can hear it over the din of the students.

The early students patiently (sort of) waited for the on-time students before digging in, and that they did. Just a tiny bit of leftovers were doggy-bagged by a lucky few, and then on downstairs we went to hear the artist/professor talk, which was by Fred tonight.

Back home we prepared for our weekend—Fred’s flying to Barcelona to give a talk to the Urban Sketchers group at their annual conference, and the boys and I are heading down to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.

Ciao for now!