A quick dinner transformed into hours of drinking wine and eating mussels and bass plucked right from the glimmering sea just fourty feet away from our table. Music, laughter, and waves. The chef treated us like old friends. It was a great way to end our time the country.
But it was not a good way to start the morning.
And that's how it always seems to be. You roll into a new city, or country, and you're just destroyed from going out on your last night, or being up all night packing, or having to be on a shuttle bus to the airport at 4 am. Or, all of the above. (Hi, Dublin!) But you take a minute, realize where you are, and get to fall in love with a new city all over again.
By some incredible stroke of luck, we managed to make our 9 am flight. After throwing the towel in and taking a cab, we found our bags were well over the 20 kilo rule. At something absurd like 10 euros per kilo! I ended up throwing away or wearing 10 kilos of extra clothes. (Before Greece, I was in Israel for 6 months, so I accumulated a lot of stuff...)
Milan was a small stopover for us- just two nights. It was the cheapest way to fly back to Montpellier, and we figured, well, why not? We found a wonderful couchsurfing host named Massimo, and he took such good care of us. We got to his apartment, and he directed us to his balcony, instructed us to sit down and relax, and went off to the grocery store to buy some things for dinner. We watched the city, felt the warm, early June breeze, and for a lovely moment, processed the fact that we were suddenly in Italy.
On our first night, Massimo brought us to an aperitivo, where, with a glass of wine, we had access to an entire buffet of northern Italian specialties. What a great way to start time in a new place...
We slept forever that night. Bliss. The silver lining to a hard travel day is finally getting to sleep. It doesn't matter if your hostel didn't let you check into your room until three, and it's pushing nine. (Barcelona.) It does't matter that you landed at 6 am, and your couchsurfing host didn't get out of work until twelve hours after, and it poured with rain all day. (Aahrus.) All that matters is, you are now climbing into a bed, and you get to wake up, eat something different from what you were eating yesterday, and explore.
When we woke up in Milan, Massimo made us rigatoni with tomatoes and pancetta: all'amatriciana. It was so good, the flavors were so clear and delightful.We had a leisurely Sunday lunch with our new friend, and then had a sunny walk around Milan, and eventually, that night, went and saw Massimo's band play at a festival! I ended up going back to Milan when Anna and I spent a month in Italy, and stayed with Massimo again! I love Couchsurfing. You make such great friends and do such fun things.
Tonight, I made my own version of amatriciana. It's simple, easy, filling, and delicious. Massimo, if you're reading this, thank you for the inspiration!
1/2 pound of dried rigatoni
1 28 oz can of tomatoes, chopped and in their juice
1 large clove of garlic
1/4 lb of pancetta, cut into cubes
Bring water to a boil.
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add your onions and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add your pancetta and cook for a couple minutes.
Add your tomatoes, and perhaps a little bit of water if it seems too thick. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (you won't need very much salt...)
Meanwhile, cook your pasta in generously salted water. When it's ready, mix directly into the sauce.
I had mine tonight with pecorino. It was lovely.