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Rand always tells me he envies my palate, which cracks me up because it’s such an unlikely compliment. But it comes up time and again, whenever I identify a spice in a dish that he’s unable to, or I catch a whiff of a bakery blocks before he does. Others who’ve noticed it have commented as well, and I usually smile and tap the side of my ever-so-prominent nose and say, “It’s not just for show.”
Goodness, it really isn’t. Sometimes it feels like a superpower. I am the amazing girl WHO CAN SMELL EVERYTHING (note: superpower has very limited application. The X-Men aren’t calling, unless they need help determining whether or not the milk has gone bad).
At some point, all of the cities on the Amalfi coast started to blur, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I resort to describing all of them as “lovely” and “charming” and “like a tower of colorful stone blocks precariously piled one atop the other.”
But, see, they all were.
Ravello sits just behind Amalfi, further inland and up the mountainside. You can get there by walking, I suppose, if you don’t value time or your life all that much. The more practical options are to crowd into a bus with a bunch of local kids who don’t understand capacity limits, and tourists who don’t understand Italian (so that when you are screaming, “Per favore, fammi uscire!” they stare at you with blank looks until you yell, “I NEED TO GET OFF THE BUS.”); or you can get swindled by some cab driver.
Honestly, if I think about it, it’s a miracle Rand and I end up anywhere. Because so many of our outings are just disastrous. Rand will get it into his head that he wants to see something, and ask me if I want to go along.
A day spent exploring some unknown city with my husband? Yes! Of course! I’d love to.
I never bother checking to see if, say, the thing that he wants to see is where he thinks it is. Or if it’s even open on that day. Or if getting there requires climbing infinite flights of steps while a southern Italian sun beats down relentlessly upon us, as though it’s carrying out a personal vendetta. No. I never do any of those things.
Life is too short as is, darlings.
As an American, it’s often weird going to Europe, because their consumer culture isn’t anywhere near what we have at home. There are shops, sure, but there isn’t the same onslaught of … stuff.
In the U.S., we understand that you haven’t really had a proper vacation until you’ve purchased at least three shot glasses, four shirts, one bottle opener, and a teddy bear all emblazoned with the name of the place you visited. If you don’t have those things, how will anyone know you went there three summers ago?
They won’t. And that’s just tragic.
It’s a little distressful when your favorite restaurant in Munich topples from the pedestal on which you’ve placed it. It’s like when you encounter your first love again, years after the fact. You find that his voice is higher than you remember, or his eyes lack that trademark twinkle, and you start to wonder: did he change, or did you?
Guido al Duomo was once my favorite restaurant in Munich. It is no longer. Don’t get me wrong: it is still very good, but it is now packed to the gills and the prices have risen dramatically.
I was in Boston a little more than a week ago. It was a brief trip – two days and two nights in the city. It’s a place that I have few ties to (save for some dear friends and a couple of in-laws) but, holy cats, do I love that town.
When we were there, the city was already preparing for the marathon, which will take place this weekend. The year-anniversary of the bombings (which was this past Tuesday) was still looming large on the horizon.