We are two. Only two why? After 36 years of marriage we still like to pop out for a meal just the two of us. This to Italians is strange behaviour . In many restaurants it flummoxes them as they have no tables just for two. Italians hunt in packs and so understandably the restaurants have tables for 6/8/12/ etc maybe the odd four but two why bother they are only going to add it to another table as the crowds arrive.
Now in those 36 years I have never had a “Charles Saatchi ” moment and attempted to strangle Geraldine nor god forbid tried to stick my finger up her nose ( what was that all about). I have once eaten at Scotts Restaurant in Mayfair and have to say when the bill arrived after a very average meal had I been paying rather than my Company I would have been tempted to have a go at someone. However I do try to think that to a multi millionaire the bill at Scotts is the equivalent of my bill last night of €20 but it is hard not to think that it is all just a little too pretentious.
We had decided to give Mimma’s in Ceglie a miss and instead hit another pizza place. The beauty with this one is it is across the road from a bar that sells beer for €1.50 for a 660cl bottle. That is US$1.12 or £1.30. Now I am not saying you are sitting in luxury there. Indeed it was another one of those bars when on my first visit the entire place stopped talking as I walked in but it has atmosphere and is full of characters. My daughter in Hong Kong sends us photos of her in various roof top bars drinking gin and tonics with ice and rose petals and cucumber and I have caught Geraldine secretly looking longingly at them when she thinks I am not watching.
The beauty of due on occasions is that Geraldine can tell me when my face has various bits of detritus from the pizza or the pasta sauce stuck to it. When we are out with a crowd she has to sit and try to signal with her napkin in a form of one flag semaphore. I am often in full flow and fondly imagine that the table is in raptures at my wit and story telling when in fact they are sitting mesmerized at whether the large piece of asparagus that has somehow gotten attached to my nose will fall off and how I managed to get a piece of pizza in my ear. Oh the joys of being 65.
Italians as I said don’t do “siamo due”. I think they all watched Two For The Road the great 1967 film starring Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn. The movie is a series of flash backs and flash forwards about a romance and then their marriage and when the two are still single Finney sitting in a restaurant looks at a French couple opposite who are eating and says” what kind of people sit in restaurants and never talk” and then replies to his own question ” Married people ” The line of course plays on to a flash forward with them sitting there married looking unhappy and not talking. It is a theme that is repeated throughout the movie acted out to the glorious score by Henry Mancini
So to avoid this Italians never go out as just a two. Actually to be honest a few do and I am sorry to report they would fit the French couple in the film. They almost always are trenchermen . Food is why they are there and nothing like talking should get in the way. Last night we sat almost speechless ( I plan never to have that not talking label pinned on me) as a couple romped through a huge anti pasta piling the finished plates on the table behind them and then demolished a couple of huge pizzas. Not a word past their lips , there wasn’t room . In seeming minutes from their arrival they were at the counter paying the bill and gone.
I, of course, started to say What kind of people … and Geraldine simply raised her eyes to the heaven and then said you’ve got some mushroom on your eyebrow.