Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No more long lunches in Italy?

Rotondi. Far to thin to be trustworthy.

So, an Italian minister, the appropriately named Gianfranco Rotondi, has decided that Italy's habitual two hour lunchbreak is bad for the economy. Well, Agent Triple P spent a lot of time in Italy in the 1980s and always thought the long lunch was an excellent idea. Certainly in Rome two hours would have been considered a rushed express lunch. We used to leave the office at 1.00pm and get back about 4.30pm, at the earliest.

In fact, the biggest lunch Agent Triple P ever had was in Rome. We were supposed to meet a business contact but he bailed out at the last moment and instead, bizarrely, sent his fiance, Princess M, and her equally aristocratic lady friend instead. We went to a Tuscan restaurant near the Borghese gardens. We started with deep fried cheese, olives and rice balls in breadcrumbs while we looked at the menu. Then we had an antipasto plate of cold meats and olives. Then pasta and fagioli soup. Then a risotto. Then Cotoletta a orecchio di elefante (veal flattened so it is like an elephant's ear). Next we had a green salad while we had a rest. Then some branzino (which I later discovered is sea bass -although in the south the same fish is called spigola). Then we had cheese and then chocolate tartufo ice cream. All this washed down with endless bottles of Vernaccia di san Gimignano.

After lunch (at about 5.15pm) we had to walk down the Via Veneto to my hotel. We really thought that we were going to die. Our stomach felt like it was about to explode. We had to lie down in a darkened room for four hours before we could face a light dinner in the Excelsior restaurant. The lie down was made more pleasant by the presence of Princess M who eventually persuded us of the importance of an emetic approach to post-prandial excess. It is amazing how close one gets to someone when trying to short cut a natural process like this.

Much refreshed we managed a light dinner of a lobster and salad.

Princess M did, eventually, marry our business contact but it didn't last very long as he was caught fathering an illegitimate child by a ballerina from the Rome ballet.
Good job we were on hand to comfort her over some more long lunches...