I mentioned yesterday that it snowed here in Sardinia on our fourth to final training ride. I did not put enough emphasis into the fact that the snow was preceded by some righteous wind and sopping rain. I also don’t mind pointing out that when it snows after such conditions, one feels it straight to the core. It was wicked Brrrrrr. I’m currently deep in the heart of the Mediterranean and I longingly miss the holiday cheer currently transpiring 8,000 miles from home in New England – alas the appropriately corresponding festive holiday cold and white goodness has arrived to “the Continent.” Odd given that the thermometer was reading a hearty 8 degrees Celsius at the time.
Under the impression that not everyone believed my claim to snow, I recommend staring off into the distance of the grainy photo above – we set out today to the majestic beauty of white capped peaks in the distance. Sure, just a few snow flurries on us yesterday, but snow is snow.
Regardless of all that, snow is not the reason I began this post today. Rather it is to offer my observations from last night’s feast.
Groundhog day gets kicked squarely in the teeth as once per ten-day camp we are allowed a pizza night. Giddy like a group of twelve year old girls at a slumber party, the anticipation is palpable. To set the scene, we’re in the same hotel as last year and dine in the same restaurant for every meal. It’s quite a lovely spot and I should add that being surrounded by an abundance of local wines decorating the wall – the forbidden fruit that we are allowed to enjoy strictly visually – only increases the excitement for this special occasion.
Timmy opted for the Frutti del Mar, which scared the living daylights out of our teammates. Seafood? On pizza?! E-gads you’d think he ordered a deep fried block of SPAM. With the plumpest mussels that I’ve honestly ever seen and a handful of their best friends named Shrimps, it looked a bit like this.
Meanwhile I was the only one of us who went with the aptly titled Fantasia! The subtitle read the Flavor Choice of the Pizzaiolo. I had met our friendly pizzamaker, err pizzaiolo, a few days prior and I came away with the distinct impression that he knows a thing or two about how to please his clientele. Who knows what exactly inspired this specific amalgamation, but my mini hot-dogs, zucchini, artichoke, mozzarella, and Gorgonzola was quite tasty. I personally would have opted for an additional salty kick found in olives, but I’m obviously no pizziaolo.
And now an appropriate commentary regarding Italian efficiency.
No one in their right mind will accuse the Italians are being overly efficient. Exhibit A: one waitress who serves as the sole barista taking table orders for 29 caffeine deprived cyclists and a dozen staff, producing, ooooh probably 100 espresso beverages in the morning. Last night elicits Exhibit B. One pizzaiolo making personal pizzas for 29 riders – plus an addition 15 pizzas for everyone to share for a grand total of 44 pizza pies – in an oven that reaches capacity with seven pizzas. Yes, all individually hand-made, all extremely delicious, all extraordinarily inefficient.
Here’s a photo of hungry riders watching their teammates eat whilst pizzaiolo prepares to toss dough in the background.
And lastly I offer you this warning: do not even begin to sass me that this is all part of the Italian charm, because the true “charm” becomes evident when 1/3 of the team is already finished with their dinner while another 2/3 haven’t yet submitted their order. Violent and gratuitous hand gestures ensue in tandem with heated voices from the hungry hoards of cyclists. Not me, however, since I just sit back and take it all in.
You see, this isn’t my first time around the proverbial Italian block. I’ve grown accustomed to this unique element of charm and appreciate it entirely. I’m by no means asking Italians to change nor asking them to take a page out of American (or Indian or Swiss or Japanese) efficiency. It’s these confounding human interactions that make waking up every day a treat. Quite simply, la dolce vita, I get it.
Oh, to appease a mass audience you propose sharing a pizza? Not a chance, ace. One pizza per person to start – may as well be a law, no matter if you’re Grandma or Fat Tony.
And at the end of the day I will not cry fowl to all of Italian efficiency. That is, these gems are rife across this country. Mark my words, the utilitarian dynamo three-wheeled pick-up truck will someday dominate all the world’s streets, not just here.