Ciao Firenze! It’s time for Calcio Storico (Football)!

So you’re off to Europe and hoping to get in on the local sports, eh? I know the action of UEFA 2012 (Euro Cup) is kicking off summer nicely (no pun intended), but there’s another sporting event that shouldn’t be … Continue reading

Travel Essay-Una Festa? ( A Festival?)

A few summers ago I had the pleasure of spending an entire summer in the hills of Sicily with my friend’s family. They showed me where they grew up, introduced me to their friends and families, and I had the most outstanding homemade Sicilian cuisine one could ever ask for. I was included in many gatherings and outings that I otherwise never would have encountered had I not been in the company and comfort of locals.

One such outing started out as just a regular day. During my extensive stay in Sicily, I became very obedient and often just nodded yes when told that we were getting in the car to pick someone up or go off to run an errand. What did I care? I was in Sicily and wanted to see everything including how regular everyday life occurs. On one particular day, the gent who was kind enough to drive us around during our stay, offered to take his friend with us to pick up his daughter from her job at the hospital. We didn’t mind and in fact my hosts and I were happy to oblige.

Off we went, five people in a car equivalent to a Yugo in 95 degree weather, and drove 45 minutes through the winding hills of northeastern Sicily. (Note to self: don’t go back in July. It’s too damn hot for such togetherness.) We picked up this man’s daughter whose acquaintance I was so pleased to make and as it turned out, she could give a rat’s tukus whether I existed or not. I chalked it up to anti-American sentiment which I could care less about so we sat in the car during the drive back for about half an hour, arm to sweaty arm, totally indifferent. She wasn’t that young, probably in her mid-twenties but had the social graces of one of Sicily’s many ancient stones found around the hillsides. My friends in the car with me made a gesture implying that she had “issues” and I just laughed to myself at how such cattiness and people with “issues” are so universal. Crazy people and bitchiness run rampant throughout the world and I found it almost comforting. It took the staleness and the need to act proper out of the equation.

So there I was, sitting silent next to this chick who had nothing to say other than to herself (she was muttering to herself) when out of the blue, Silent Maria screams, “Basta! Una Festa! Una Festa!” (Stop! A festival! A festival!) Where the hell did that come from? This chick didn’t even say, “CIAO” to us when we introduced ourselves and all of a sudden, apparently she heard a band playing and wanted to see the Festa. (Festa’s are street fairs that run throughout many parts of Europe during the summer months, especially in very Catholic communities to honor patron saints.) Our driver hit the brakes and suddenly my new BFF grabbed my hand and said in Italiano, “let’s get to the front!” Seeing that this was the first real sign of life from this girl, we all appeased her by grabbing our belongings and running with her to catch the front of the parade coming down the main street of whatever walled village we stopped in. I believe it was Belevedere. I grabbed my camera, my friends grabbed their cameras and camcorders and we headed toward the front, ready to capture the bands and confetti in full color. Our mini-mob got to where we wanted, just in time for five cameras to snap away in unison at a coffin coming right toward us. Holy shit. How do you say faux pas in Italian? Should have known better than to listen to this wayward idiot who had been muttering to herself during a 45 minute hot car ride. Not only did we confuse a funeral with a festa, but because we all looked like American and Australian tourist trash dressed in flip flops, baseball hats, shorts, and armed with cameras, we ended up taking the poor deceased soul’s thunder away from him/her. Everybody was looking at us instead of the coffin. Talk about feeling like a stupid ass tourist.

Is it bad that our tasteless mob found this to be hysterical? Mind you, we all were raised Catholic and should have been absolutely mortified by not only our misstep but how we instinctively laughed out loud upon realizing that we were not at a festa. We laughed so hard we started crying. Welcome to tacky hell. However, we couldn’t stop laughing at how collectively stupid we all were. All we could do was pile back into the Yugo-like car and drive like Cruella Deville into the hills of Sicily just to get as far from the scene as possible.

But guess what happened? Crazy, Silent Maria loosened up and started chatting away. In fact, we all laughed so hard for so long that we all loosened up and let the initial uneasiness fall away. I still thought the girl was nuts but at least she became a nutbag having a good time. My lesson learned on this particular day was not to write somebody off after an initial bad first impression. You can still have a hell of a good time with somebody even if you think you have absolutely nothing in common with them. More importantly, if you’re ever in Sicily, don’t be fooled by a bass drum and a trombone. Check out the scene first to determine if you are about to wear black to a Festa or throw confetti unto a coffin.

Adios World Cup 2010- :(

Thank you South Africa for hosting an awesome World Cup! My old favorite teams didn’t do a damn thing, but I have a new appreciation for the South American teams including the incredible team from Uruguay. Was there a more entertaining and nail-biting team than that one? The controversy of Suarez, the finesse of Diego Forlan- who thought the color sky-blue could be so threatening?! Brazil had always been in the limelight in the past but they choked early on, letting Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay take the stage.  Good God, watching Maradona was a show in itself. That kind of insanity is priceless! Holland had an incredibly talented team and it could have gone either way but team Espana pulled it off.  I would love to take that little octopus Paul to Vegas to play roulette.  In the end, I am extremely happy with the result.

……But thank God it’s over! Now I can:

–  Do the laundry

–  Get to work on time

–  Water my plants

–  Feed my cat when she is hungry

–  Go back to the gym

–  Go grocery shopping for real food

–  Sleep in

–  Stop eating bar food

–  Stop drinking alcohol at 10:00a.m on Saturdays

–  Stop trying to get to bars by 7:00a.m in some cases. I have very dedicated friends.

–  Get ESPN and UNIVISION off of my favorite channel list

–  Give a crap about the real world again. Not looking forward to that.

This should hold me over until I can Samba in the stands in Rio.  Bring on World Cup 2014!!!

Wow-I need a drink after that one.

 We laughed, we cried, we screamed, OH MY GOD! Sure, that was the best game ever but damn, did it it have to be THAT close?! This was like watching that scene from Rocky. Remember that one? Where Rocky and Apollo were both swinging until they both fell over and whoever was left standing was the winner? Different sport, same tenacity. I have to admit that I was slightly torn, given that Ghana was the last hope for Africa to have a team move on in the World Cup and I would have supported them had they moved on to play the Netherlands. But they were afterall, going against Uruguay, a team I have been admiring throughout the World Cup. Diego Forlan is awesome to watch and the thought of not being able to watch them go on the attack again was rather depressing to me. They made it through this time but now that Suarez won’t be in the next match after his “fabulous” job of stopping Ghana from scoring, resulting in a red card, I’m already planning on having the bottle of Aspirin handy when they play their next match. It’s worth saying that Ghana should hold their heads high in spite of their loss because they did Africa proud, fighting and sticking it to Uruguay until the very end. Fantastic job Ghana! 

On a cougar note, why hasn’t Calvin Klein contacted Diego Forlan yet? Hello????!!!!!! I’m over Beckham. It’s Diego Time!!!! 

Diego Forlan

World Cup Diet

Leave it to me to find the fastest way to gain 75 lbs. in a one month period. By the end of the WC in the middle of July, that may be my reality! While knocking around town looking for a place to have dinner, my friend and I got the brilliant idea to honor a team that played in the World Cup that day. It so happened that Greece played that day so we decided to have Greek food. Alas, the World Cup Diet was born. Here is what has been on the hit list so far:      

I had a great falafel wrap, loaded with spicy tahini sauce in honor of Greece while my friend had a nice tomato and cucumber salad. I plan to “honor” Greece again by making a trip to San Jose’s Falafel Drive-In, for a falafel sandwich and a banana milkshake as featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.      

Days later, in honor of Mexico’s great win against France, I made a tasty huevos rancheros breakfast for myself, topped with my own homemade salsa later followed by an organic burrito which probably would have horrified my grandmother. (Healthy, organic, and Mexican don’t mix and are considered to be sacrilege).      

Over the weekend, though on the fence about whether or not to celebrate Italy’s so-so job against New Zealand, I got over it and managed to make a  penne pasta dish with plump Roma tomatoes, rosemary from my garden, olive oil, sea salt, and a little Cabernet goat cheese. Viva Italia.      

Call me psychic because I didn’t know Germany was going to win this week but I managed to have a healthy but yummy piece of apple strudel the night before Germany won their game. Again, organic and would horrify any hausfrau but it’s the thought that counts, ja?      

This weekend will be all about honoring the Yankee. Win or lose from here on out, there’s no denying the U.S. placed 1st in their group the first time since 1930, so it’s time to celebrate big. I will be having the biggest, sloppiest, drippiest, most disgusting cheeseburger I can get my hands on with a side of seasoned fries and maybe a chocolate milkshake. No, it won’t be organic.       


Any of these go great with either a well-made Bloody Mary if you are getting up first thing in the morning to watch the early games, or a nice refreshing mojito (or two) for the afternoon games. Both of those contain fresh ingredients so as far as I’m concerned they count as health food.      

I still have a hit list including Serbian food which I have had in the past and really liked, and African, which I haven’t had in a while but have been craving, and of course, South American. Australia is still in it but I can’t choke down Vegemite to save my life so I’ll honor them with a package of Tim Tams. You may have to hit the gym more often under this diet plan. If not possible, buy one of those inflated ball thingies and bounce up and down while you’re watching the game. I have found that at least you feel like you’re doing something other than just sitting and watching the game.    

The day after the World Cup ends, I’ll post about the World Cup Detox. Until then…….      

Any other suggestions????    🙂