Since I’ve been in Italy, I’ve had to do a little bit of reconciling – that is, reconciling my childhood memories of the country with my adult impressions. Because I’m me, most of the old memories have to do with food. Me, five years old, sitting on a chair, swinging my legs back and forth and biting into a crunchy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside mozzarella-and-rice filled supplì. Walking into a supermarket at age 10 and seeing piles of oily, rosemary-encrusted pizza bianca on display. Being handed a hot bomba, wrapped in a paper sheath and studded with crunchy sugar; the pastry so delicate, fragranced with the merest whiff of lemon peel.
No food porn memory recapture mission is too daunting for me, so each day, I’m on the hunt and after food. Found the supplì almost immediately at a pizza stand, crispy and golden and lying in wait for me to come and claim them. Next, I found the bombe. Signs all over town boasting: Bombe calde dalle 21:00 – Hot bombe from 9pm on. I remember two kinds of bombe from my childhood – creme-filled and empty (my favorite) but now I’m seeing bombe filled with Nutella and white chocolate, too. Hot from a pasticceria in the City Centre, or semi-hot from a beach shack. I still tend to go for the plain ones, but in the spirit of merging the Then and the Now, have experimented with the Nutella variety. Baby, where have you been all my life.
On nights when I’ve been indoors too long, I spring from the apartment to the boardwalk and watch the waves lap black against the white sand. If I’ve been a good girl, a bomba is my nightcap. There are never enough napkins to get all the sugar off my face, but I don’t care – each granule is a testament to my delight.
“Ciao, E,” say the neighbors, heading out for their moonlit stroll just as I’m coming back. “Let me introduce you to my friend.” A hand is offered.
I put out a sticky paw, cringing with embarrassment. “Sorry… I just had a bomba.”
“Don’t worry; I understand completely.”
Solidarity in numbers; I check for creme smears on their cheek, too. That’s right, amico. We’re all in this together.
And – pizza bianca? I’m coming for you next.
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