Sunday, May 24, 2015

Italy in 5 Days: Margherra

After a brief wait in Florence when Raquel offended the locals, we boarded our train and made it to Margherra, a town just outside Venice. We marched thirty minutes, much further than our AirBnB host had promised past buildings with overgrown lawns that had fresh laundry drying on the line. Exhausted and annoyed we arrived to find the cutest AirBnB host the world has ever seen.
She showed us around her place, explained how the busses worked and asked if we were hungry. When we told her we were going to try to go into Venice that night, she gasped.
“But it is 9:30, the busses stop running at midnight, and you look so very tired and hungry.”
Well, maybe we should just eat instead.
“Yes, that is good. Come with me I will take you to a restaurant. It is good.”
So, dressed only in her pajamas and slippers, so led us around a corner, past a prostitute skillfully jiggling her wares and to the best meal we’ve eaten in Italy. But of course we didn’t know that yet. All we knew about Italian food was that it is overpriced and designed to look good on a menu. Taste is unimportant because most people will never return. We had decided days before to eat only while standing up. They may ruin a plate of pasta, but it seems against the Italian nature to serve lousy bread or salami. Yet here we were, about to sit down at a restaurant, throw our money away because we were hungry and tired and out of options.
“It is good, sit down,” our host said, and was gone.
We briefly debated setting out for somewhere else, but seeing as the only other human activity was prostitutes, we decided to go ahead and eat there. We sat down and the waitress began to chatter away in Italian. She obviously recognized me look of bewilderment for she focused her verbiage on Raquel.
“Yadda-yadda-yadda antipasti?”
“Uh…” Raquel replied.
 “Yadda-yadda-yadda primeri spaghetti?”
Even I know that one.
The waitress vanished and Raquel turned pale.
“I have no idea what we just ordered.”
I shrugged. I was hungry enough to eat a horse. How bad could it be?
Twenty minutes later the waitress set before us an enormous silver platter piled high with crawfish, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, fish and ricotta cheese, all smothered in tomato sauce on top of spaghetti. it looked amazing, like something Poseidon would have for dinner. It was the most surprising and exciting dish she could have possibly brought us. I was already excited we had this visual feast instead of something like lasagna, where the flavor hides beneath the noodles.

We dug in. The Crawfish were brain-slurpingly good, the shrimp and scallops the perfect texture but the mussels… my gods the mussels. They were succulent and tender and went amazingly well with the tomato sauce. The clams became repositiroes for the ricotta. Each bite was half shellfish have tomato infused cheese. We washed it all down with half a liter of white wine and followed it with tiramisu.
It was utterly divine, or to quote the babe, “That meal was stupid good. Do you think she just saw that we didn’t understand anything and decided to blow our minds?”

I think so, and I think that’s the advantage of escaping the tourist destinations, with their monuments and overpriced everything. To go to Margherra was to see a piece of Italy not in the guidebooks, and to eat at a restaurant that needs people to eat there more than once. If you visit Italy I highly advise seeking out a small town that no one's ever heard of just to eat, and while in the big cities, stick to the street food and cheap bottles of wine from the cold drinks shops.

If you liked this story come visit Florence with us!

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