The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet around here recently. There’s a reason for that – Davide and I got married on 20 August! It’s therefore been a busy few months, but hopefully with the weddings (oh yes, that’s the other thing – we decided to have three ceremonies – one to do the paperwork in Italy, one to celebrate with family and friends in Italy and finally one (still to come at the end of this month) to celebrate with family and friends in England) more or less out of the way I can concentrate on getting back to blog normality.
So, to get the ball rolling, we have a post for the Italy Blogging Roundtable. This month the topic is ‘wine’, which – given all the celebrations over the past month – was a logical one for me to ease my way back in with.
“Quindi … papà … mamma … sorella?” Alessia is making her way around the group, shaking hands as she goes. I correct her – Alice is a friend, not my sister – and then Davide leaps into the fray. “E poi … Alessia …” He holds up his left hand with the shiny new wedding ring on the fourth finger. “Marito!” Alessia’s mouth drops open and she flings her pen over her shoulder in a comic “Shut UP!” gesture. I hold up my left hand as well and she breaks into a huge grin before rushing forward to give me a kiss on both cheeks and then kissing Davide – and everyone else – in a flurry of overexcitement. “Congratulations! When did this happen? A few days ago? Ohmygod, don’t surprise me like that!”
We’re at U Fucularu, our favourite trattoria in Catania. Alessia runs front of house, while her mum cooks and her dad flits between the kitchen and waiting tables. We turned up ten minutes ago to find all the tables full apart from one, and that was reserved. “But they’re late,” said Alessia’s dad, “so if they’re not here in ten minutes the table’s yours.” When we break the wedding news, everything changes. “The table’s yours! Subito! Hang on – we’ll just get clean glasses for you …”
Davide and I are sitting next to each other, but the conversational factions at the table have split into two: he’s mainly chatting to my parents, while I’m talking to Alice and Lexy, who arrived late and is struggling through a giant salad the size of her head. On seeing Lex’s tiny frame Alessia promptly names her ‘due ossi‘ (‘two bones’) which causes much laughter around the table, as we’ve recently decided that Davide’s nickname should be ‘Sicilian Dave’, and Alice’s work moniker is ‘Alice the Camera‘. We sound like we should be in a bad Guy Ritchie film.
I’m making a half-hearted nod at eating light after the wedding feasting of the past few days, so am eating pasta with gorgonzola and pistacchio (ahem). Davide, Alice and my parents, meanwhile, are tucking into a giant platter of horsemeat. Whatever anyone’s eating, however, it’s accompanied by a red wine called (slightly ominously) o’scuru o’scuru. The name means ‘in the dark, in the dark’, which caused Alessia to make a crack about hoping that our marriage wouldn’t be like the wine. (Yeah, us too …) When I take a sip I realise why it’s so-named: it’s delicious, thick, and dark – and way too heavy for me in this heat. I leave the glass on the table while I concentrate on my pasta and helping Two-Bones-Lexy out with her salad. I’ll come back to the wine in the winter.
My dad, however, is an ex-rugby player. He also cycled the nearly 2000m climb from Catania up to Rifugio Sapienza on Etna a few days ago; he may be in his 60s, but he’s big, and he’s fit, and he can hold his drink accordingly. He’s therefore getting merrily stuck into the wine and topping Davide’s glass up liberally at the same time.
Davide, in contrast, is built on a much slighter runner’s frame and not used to drinking like an English rugby player.
The following morning, this all becomes very, very relevant.
Davide wakes up when his alarm goes off. He’s supposed to be back at work today after having taken a long weekend off to get married and entertain my family, but it quickly becomes clear that it’s not going to happen and his four-day weekend is about to become a five-day one. With a groan he switches the alarm off, buries his head under the pillow and radiates misery. Ten minutes later he runs to the bathroom and returns looking pale. “I don’t think I’m going to go to work today, baby.” I look sympathetic. “Aww. Too much wine?” He shakes his head. “No, I think it’s a stomach bug.” I raise my eyebrows but don’t argue. Even though I’m sure it’s just overindulgence that’s causing him to feel dreadful, he does still feel dreadful, so I put a jug of water beside him and leave him to sleep it off while I pick up Lexy – who’s finally been felled by a celiac attack that’s been brewing for three or four days – and bring her back to the flat so I can keep an eye on her.
Later that afternoon I have Lex asleep on my sofa, Davide asleep on the bed, and the flat is sparkling as I’ve had nothing else to do all day but clean while I wait for my two patients to start feeling better. I go in to check on Davide and he wakes up with a feeble moan. I try to persuade him that he needs sugar, fat and carbs, but he’s shocked to the core that I would even suggest it. “My stomach, amore!” There’s no telling him that I have learned through a decade of bitter, *bitter* experience in my London-living-actress 20s that it’s the best cure for a hangover; he’s still 100% convinced that what he has is nothing whatsoever to do with having drunk more than half a bottle of heavy red wine and eaten a kilo of roast horsemeat in 30 degree heat. I give up and fire my parting shot. “We’ll see in the morning …” He takes a weak sip of water, turns over and goes back to sleep.
It’s not until two or three days later, when Davide has long recovered, that we get to the bottom of why he was so convinced that it wasn’t a hangover. He’s musing on the strange ‘stomach bug’ that he had, and how the day after it he was not only craving, but able to eat pizza and chips. I laugh. “That’s because it wasn’t a bug, amore, but a hangover.” He shakes his head vehemently. “No! Not possible! I wasn’t drunk that night.” I give him a disbelieving look. He throws his arms wide in a gesture of innocence. “I wasn’t! Not like blaaaaaaarghurggghhhhwaaaaaah and falling over I wasn’t!” I have to laugh at his imitation of a pissed-up, English, Saturday night drinker, weaving about the place and spouting rubbish, but it’s in that moment that I realise: he’s under the impression that hangovers are reserved only for those who get so rat-arsed that they can neither stand up nor speak by the end of the night.
Four days married and it would appear that my husband has just experienced his first hangover, courtesy of summer dehydration, a meat platter, red wine and my dad.
I’m so sorry, amore – welcome to the family …
Now, without further ado, here’s the list of posts from the other Roundtable ladies this month. We love to receive your comments and feedback, so do let us know what you thought of each post, either in the comments section below each one, or via Facebook and Twitter.
Jessica – Wine Tasting in Italy
Rebecca – The Art of Drinking: Il Carapace
Alexandra – Brolio Castle: some wine with your history
Melanie – Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle
Michelle – La Vendemmia in Calabria
Gloria – Italians and Wine