Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pizza Pizza

One of the things I love best about Italy is the pizza. Naples is the birth place of this perfect creation and it is truly an art form here. There are Ritorante Pizzarias on every corner, and while there are the standard pizzas (Margharita, Diavola, Primavera, Marinara, Nutella, etc.), they also have their own specialties. I’ll share two of my favorites with you.

The first one we discovered shortly after we moved here. I’ve only ever seen it on menus in Casal di Principe and Villa Literno. The ristorante that makes it the best is Locand di Nonn Rafel in Villa Literno. The Americans refer to it as “The Green Awning” because, well, it has a big green awning, or used to anyway. They recently changed to a maroon color, but it will always be The Green Awning. But I digress. Behold the magnificent Pizza Novantuno (91). It looks like a mess, but it is the most amazing tasting mess ever. The fries totally make it (trust me you doubters!). Besides the sauce and mozzarella, beneath all of those fries are pieces of hamburger, spicy sausage, and pancetta. It is not a pizza for the faint of heart! It should also be consumed only once in a great while – I cannot imagine how its nutrition label would read.

The second pizza is a new find from one of the ristorantes here in Castel Volturno: the Ristorante da Attilo. It’s called Pizza Fresca Voglia, and is the exact opposite of the Pizza Novantuno. It’s pretty much a salad on a pizza crust. No sauce, lots of lettuce, ruccola, pomodori, fresh mozzarella (grazie bufale), olives, corn, and tuna. Oooh it’s nice! I feel much less guilty eating this one – and isn’t it just pretty? MOH (My Other Half) insisted that I post the before and after pictures. Whatever, I’m not proud.

MOH also wanted me to add a picture of his new fave. It’s from the Ristorante Da Attilo as well. He has discovered the Ripieno Fritto (much to the chagrin, I am sure, of his arteries). It’s a deep fried calzone. Seriously. They bake it and throw it in the deep fryer. It’s not much to look at but it is filled with melted ricotta and a little bit of tuna. It’s just not right.

Though I have recently complained extensively about the incredibly slow and frustrating way things get done around here, you will never hear a bad word from me about the food. Real Italian food has the freshest and most amazing combinations of flavors and ingredients. It is much lighter than I expected - current pizza post excluded. Someday when I have to return state-side I expect to experience a period of deep mourning.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Oh Telecom . . . Telecom, Telecom, Telecom! I hate to be clichĂ©, but it’s not rocket science. They showed up on Monday as promised bright and early at 0900. They installed the line (thank God for that eye-hook!) and hooked up the modem for our internet. The phone worked just fine, but we couldn’t connect to the internet. The technician called headquarters (which, quite frankly, I expect is located in someone’s basement) and was told it would take a day to work. Uh huh.

Tuesday – no internet! MOH (My Other Half) calls our good ol’ Quality of Life Office and they, in turn, called Telecom. Our modem is blacklisted. Yep – BLACKLISTED! The previous people who had it didn’t pay their bills so it was blocked. And they gave it to us. Without unblocking it. (Please insert dramatic sigh here.)

MOH, who is the absolute most patient man on earth, is finally getting fed up. I was fed up on day one, which is why I let MOH make the phone calls. I have trouble hiding my disgust with people I think are idiots – and that list is constantly growing. He called the QOL Office on Wednesday and was told that we were very unlucky. I prefer to call it getting hosed by Telecom. He was told surely it would be on by Thursday . . . or Friday. Gah!

Well we finally got it Wednesday evening – Hooray!! All things considered it could have been worse. Happy posts to follow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Eye-Hook

When MOH (My Other Half) got the call from the Quality of Life Office telling us that Telecom would be at our new house on Tuesday, the day before we moved in, to install our telephone and establish our wireless connection I was ecstatic. It was unheard of. It normally takes a minimum of 30 days, if you are lucky, to get Telecom to come to your house. Many people go months without phone or internet when they move into a house here. MOH and I couldn’t believe our luck!

I came to the new house that morning with two of the dogs so that MOH would only have two to deal with while the housing people came to assess how much stuff we would be moving the next day. The Telecom guy showed up around 1000 in his little white Fiat with a ladder tied to its roof. As far as I could tell it was the only equipment he had. He came in, looked at the connection, pulled it out of the wall and announced that it was “impossible.” He said he would come back “domani” (tomorrow). Fine, whatever.

A representative from the Quality of Life Office called later to tell me that Telecom would NOT be back tomorrow, but that an electrician would have to come to install an outside line from the house to the telephone poll before we could have our phone and internet connected. The landlord would have to have this done and we could then schedule a Telecom appointment. Mmmm hmmm. Our landlord called two days later and said that the electricians would come Saturday morning between 0800 and 1000. They did. The four of them stood in my driveway for five minutes looking from the house to the telephone poll. The leader then announced that they would be back lunedi (Monday) doppo pranzo (after lunch). Fine. Whatever.

I went back to work on Monday and MOH rescheduled other housing appointments so that he could wait for the electricians. They didn’t come. We later learned from the landlord that one of them had a family problem. God forbid they send someone else. We were then told that they would come Wednesday morning. They didn’t. Another call to the landlord resulted in another promise from the electricians to come Friday – no idea what time, and no reason for not showing up on Wednesday.

The “electricians” came. And I am still in disbelief at what took place. The leader arrived with his elderly assistant. He got out of the car with a little power drill in his hand and promptly asked my husband for an extension cord. We only have American ones that we use with our transformers. I was more than a little steamed. Here we had waited seven days since the Saturday visit and the electrician doesn’t have any equipment? No, he didn’t. MOH’s solution was to let the guy use his own power drill which meant he had to haul a transformer upstairs and set it up for him. Once he did this, the guy then asked for a ladder. For the love of Pete! Seriously? Anything else we can get you? How about a nice cafĂ© and some dolce?

After approximately 30 seconds of drilling, the leader and his assistant passed me in the kitchen and said, “Ciao!”

I said, “Basta” (finished)?

“Si,” they said. WTF?

“MOH, are they done?” me yelling.

“No!” says MOH.

“Well they’re leaving!” me still yelling.

I heard MOH talking to them from the balcony upstairs as they got into their car. And left. I went upstairs to see what the hell was up and saw this:

I mean really.

The electricians installed an eye-hook so that Telecom had a way to anchor the phone line to the house. I was actually speechless. Seriously. MOH could have done this himself a week ago. We waited seven days, rearranged appointments, sat at home waiting for them to show up twice when they didn’t, and this is what we got. It . . . took . . . seven . . . days . . . to . . . install . . . an . . . (insert very nasty work here) . . . eye-hook??! I could seriously cry. Telecom is supposed to come Monday (more time off work for MOH). Fine. Whatever.

Maxwell vs. The Rat

On our third night in the new house things were going well. We were unpacking boxes and starting to feel like we were at home. It was getting dark outside and I opened the back door to call the dogs in for a little sofa time. As I called to them I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked down and it took a couple of seconds for me to realize there was a big fat rat skittering across our patio. It took me another couple of seconds to realize that Maxwell had seen it too.

Maxwell is one of my four dogs and he is my favorite. It didn’t start out that way. We already had two dogs when MOH (My Other Half) came home from golf one day with this scrawny little black puppy. I did not like him. He was destructive and a pain in the ass. His first morning at the house he jumped up at me and grabbed hold of the knee of my black velvet lounging pants (don’t judge me) and ripped them. He would escape the kitchen and eat my shoes and magazines. I was seriously trying to figure out how we were going to get rid of him. Then it happened. I sat down on the kitchen floor with him one day and he crawled into my lap and fell asleep - I fell in love.

Maxwell still has his moments. He has grown into a beautiful 47-pound lap dog. He enjoys counter-surfing and has helped himself to raw meatballs and frozen meals that were waiting to go in the oven. He’ll destroy a book or magazine if I leave them outside on a table. He sits on top of my car; I have no idea how he even decided that was possible. He drank the oil out of the turkey fryer this Thanksgiving and spent half the day throwing up. But he will cuddle on the couch with me for hours at a time and has the sweetest temperament.

Anyway, Maxwell saw the rat at the same time I did – and pounced. Suddenly he was running across the yard with that fat rat body hanging out of his mouth. The other three quickly followed. I yelled for MOH to help me get the dogs into the house without the rat. He did and as they were anxiously trotting around the living room trying to settle down I noticed that there was blood on the floor, quite a bit. MOH and I started grabbing dogs to find out who was bleeding and from where. It was Maxwell. Blood was pouring from his nose courtesy of a rat bite.

I grabbed paper towels and Maxwell sat next to me and let me hold them against his nose. I sent MOH outside with instructions to dispose of the rat. He took a shovel, found the rat, and tossed it over the fence. He said it was still alive, but barely. Ugh. At our last house, our dogs loved to catch lizards. One of our females, Skipper, would sleep with their little dead bodies in her crate until I could get them away from her. We’re a little more out in the country now and it never occurred to me that my dogs would find bigger and better prey. I have visions of letting them in one night and not paying close enough attention. If I find a dead ANYTHING on my sofa . . . anyway, I hope Maxwell learned his lesson, but I doubt it. I’m sure he was extremely proud of his catch, bloody nose be damned!