Lei Beve Come Una Spugna=She Drinks Like a Sponge!

Posted on March 12, 2011


Dear Ballatine Whiskey,

This scotch whiskey might just be a new favorite of mine. I was in desperate need of something strong and straight…my Aunt Flow is in town for the next few days and she is vicious and I feel as though she has punched me in the baby maker. I woke up at 6am and could barely move and didn’t sleep for 45 minutes and prayed that the kids wouldn’t wake up before I fell back asleep. The entire morning and afternoon was not so easy. When I finally emerged from my room around 11:30 to make some tea lunch was being prepared. I told T that I was not feeling 100% and she told me the best thing to do was have some warm rice (with the water) with oil and lemon. No salt. No pepper. Sounded boring and just what I needed since I was not feeling the fish or fried kabob and vegetables I saw in the oven. Once I saw the little red faces of those craw fish jabbed between zucchini my stomach turned once more. I sat down to eat with everyone a while later and ate some more yummy gay fennel and a piece of real bread (with salt!). I enjoyed my “riso zuppa” and looked at the TV guide while we ate. Nothing much on TV or new movies. I took a shower before I made my tea so all I had to do was get my hair dry so I could lie back down and rest til I made a plan to get out the house as soon as possible.

By 3:30 I received the message to meet near a Metro stop near Piazza del Popolo. I headed out around 4 and was late but found my way across the full piazza. This year marks the 150th anniversary of national unity for Italy! So many exciting things were happening and the piazza was swarming with Italians holding flags, painted faces and crazy Italian hats. I finally found Frances Ford and we decided to have Texa meet us once we found our next destination. Frances wanted to attend an opening at a shop that was showing off the “new collection” of clothes and bags at a little spot called Pangea-Niente Troppo. Pangea “nothing more.” Pangea is what we call the hypothetical supercontinent that included all the landmasses on earth. There are about 6 of these shops all over Rome. I looked it up and there is one on Via Reno! I cannot wait to find it, not only because the shop is one of the coolest spots I have seen but its Via Reno! I need to witness this and take a photo as soon as possible. This little shop had everything from jewelry, to wine, to pasta, to face products, clothing, dishware, linens, chocolate, tea, snacks, rice, coffee and even hand-made frames and artwork. I have not seen a place that had so many items in one tiny shop! Frances said that she used to work at one of their other stores and told me that each one was a little different. I might make it a mission to see them all and compare. I bought some chocolate (since Aunt Flow was still kicking me in my uterus) to potentially ease the pain. One was latte con nocciole intere. Milk chocolate with hazelnuts. I love hazelnuts if you have not noticed. The other was highly recommended so I had to buy the fave di cacao which was really rich and amazingly bitter. Roasted cocoa beans with super dark chocolate. I typically don’t prefer dark chocolate but this was something else. Each of these and all the products in this mini mart were all FairTrade products and all organic. Full of cool stuff but some of the employees were just not as pleasing.

After we shopped down crowded Via del Corso we decided to head towards Frances house to eat some dinner. There is a great little pizza place right near her house. This is where I was introduced to the Ballantine whiskey. I tried to explain that I wanted whiskey and soda. Not coca-cola just PLAIN SODA. “Tonic?” NO! “frizzante?” NO! Ughhhhh. Forget it. I told the bartender to just give me the whiskey solo. He gave me a strange look and asked if I at least wanted ice. I took my 4 cubes of ice and golden whiskey and toasted Frances with her Spritz. She loves this cocktail with prosecco and an orange liquor called Aperol. If I am buying a drink I want more alcohol in it. I think I might go for the Ballantine straight up from now on. It was a nice pour and as the ice melted it created a nice taste. When I looked up the whiskey it says that this golden goodness’s “character and body is soft, sweet and complex. Rounded.” Sounds like my personality and attitude here in Rome. I finally found my drink of choice! I will always end my night with my favored Godmother but that is only if I stay out all night. Godmother cocktails are only for after midnight. That is my Rule.

We ordered three pizzas after we ordered our drinks. I asked how big the pizzas were since I didn’t want too much food or not enough. “Normal size” is the reply. “Normal” here in Rome is a 10-12 inch pizza for one person! Not normal to me but I don’t feel guilty when I eat it all since it is expected. I ordered a pizza fritta and had no idea that it was served as a calzone! Mine had fresh mozzarella, ricotta and salami. This might be top three in my pizza experience here. The bread was so fluffy and light it reminded me of a sopapilla that you would enjoy at a mexican food restaurant for dessert. The kind you slather with honey and whipped cream. Yes. That good, but it was the dinner version with cheese and thin sliced salami. I ate until I was full. Actually, just as I finished a true fool came by our table trying to sell us a bunch of strange crap. I could not stop laughing and I just took out my camera and took his photo without asking him. Right??? This guy looked like a cross between black Michael Jackson and the artist formally known as Prince! With a deep Italian accent of course!

No, we don’t need  a Hello Kitty dice clock, or a 5 inch lighter, or a light up pengiun or any of that junk around your neck or on your ridiculous belt! I think it is so crazy that people allow this to happen during dinner and drinks it is so funny! Dinner and a show. For free.

After we finished dinner the waiter asked if we would sit back inside the bar so that another group could use our table. He grabbed my empty whiskey glass and looked at me and asked if I finished it all by myself. “Si!” I tell him. It is a “Uomo”  (mans) drink so I suppose it was strange for a woman to drink whiskey straight up. I am still such a boy! We laugh and Frances tells us that when she was young people used to say, “lei beve come una spunga!” I ask if that is similar to what we say, “drinks like a fish?” and we take a moment to figure out what “spugna” is in English. Sponge! Drinks like a sponge! I think I beve come una spugna when I get the chance. Soaked. I want to get soaked.

Once we pay and figure out our bill we head back over to Frances house to have some wine and laughs with her flat mates. It was the closest thing to a “girls night” I have had since December before I left. These girls are seriously funny! We practiced our curse words in English, Spanish and Italian. We shared funny stories about work, relationships and drunken silliness. It does not matter where you are in the world everyone drinks too much at some point and either throws up, passes out, blacks out or cusses like a sailor in front of the wrong people. Once the wine was finished Texa and I decided to call it a night and find the Metro. Frances told us which way to go but her and I still got lost. We asked two people for directions and each told us the Metro was chuiso (closed) and we would remind them it was Sabato (Saturday) and it was indeed open. We literally walked the entire length of one Metro stop to another since we didn’t know how or want to backtrack. At one point we even “ran” a little to make it interesting. I was holding my bottle of water cradled in my beloved Borsolino hat and realized once we got to the Metro that I had spilled half of my water in my hat! Ooops. I squeezed about an ounce of water out on the escalator and shook my head at myself. We parted ways since we had to take opposite metro lines to get home. I have never taken the Metro by myself but there is a first time for everything. I got off at Piazza Reppublica since I wanted to say hi to Mickey before he got off work and since that is the only way I know how to get home from that side of town! Sometimes I think that his boss is more excited to see me than him. He tells me that I am beautiful and tonight asked me if I had a “boyfriend.” Mickey turned and shoots him a slight glare with a daring, yet embarrassed smile. He looks at me and I just laugh and shake my head as Mickey tells him that I have a sister since I am obviously unavailable. Mickey walks me outside to wait for my bus and tells me to be careful and text him as soon as I am home safe. “Va bene?!” he exclaims as I turn when I see my bus coming down the street. “Va bene. Ciao amore mio….”

Call me Mrs. Right

Posted in: When in Rome