If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

21 July 2006

Breaking the Seal

More than a handful of you have now written me offline to discover if I'm still alive, if I lost both of my hands in an unfortunate runin with a mountain lion, gone on a blog-fast in protest of the war in the Middle East, or what.

(ASIDE: you like me, you really like me! You miss me when I'm gone! Golly Gee! Someone best get to work designing the Viaggiatore Fan Club t-shirts.)

Long story short, no - drama has not befallen me, I'm still just living on the road. "What I did on My Summer Trip: See a Whole Lot of America in Six Weeks and Two Suitcases." Almost all work, but certainly some fun along the way (I could, in a pinch, amuse myself in a paper bag). Am I homesick for Bella Toscana? You bet. Though I must admit with the heatwaves (read: giant balls of fiery scorching ninety-plus degree days) currently running through both the US and Europe, I am happier for the moment to be in a country that embraces the incredible invention of AIR CONDITIONING.

That said, today finds me in beautiful suburban Detroit, where I am looking forward to a fabulous weekend of relaxation with UBlend and the Rugrat capped off with a visit to JillyBean, who it's been waaaaaay too long since I saw. But I thought I'd take a quiet moment (okay, to be fair, I'm trapped on the phone on hold with United Airlines for FIFTY TWO MINUTES AND COUNTING) to fill all ye out there in blogville in on some musings from my adventures:

Stuff America Seriously Rocks At:

The Cocktail. More specifically, The Martini. Grey Goose, Up, A Little Dirty, Extra Olives (blue cheese stuffed if they've got 'em). Most Italians would probably gag at a sip of it, but it is truly nectar of the gods in my world. Most memorable martini from this trip was the one at the Mall of America* at lunch with Josh Baskin, with the "Pomegranete Pink Slippers" at ChezTheMom a close runner up.

Inventive Food. Yes, I know, Italian food is amazing. But it's also kinda predictable. What? Pasta for a starter course? How surprising! Most memorable food so far from this trip was the Elk Sandwich at Cue Restaurant at the New Guthrie Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. That, plus Exec Chef Lenny Russo was a treat and a half to talk to. I look forward to seeing him next time he swings through Tuscany.

Stuff Italy Kicks America's Pathetic Butt At:

Knowing who won the World Cup. Heck, even knowing the World Cup was going on! Okay, I admit that it *killed* me to not be in Italy for this amazing moment (descriptive comments welcomed from all ye back in Bella Italia!) I text messaged my Italian friends the minute I heard...I'm sure that partying abounded even in the smallest of towns! I was on a shuttle enroute from Denver to Vail, Colorado when the game ended, and Beatrice and the Pensive Oak were kind enough to comb through every shop in tourist town to find me a blue ITALIA soccer shirt that I could wear to celebrate from afar with my adopted home.

Interesting boutique shops and towns with their own character. It has struck me on this trip more than ever that America is just one big sea of chain stores all strung together in different configurations. Is the Gap next to the Abercrombie & Fitch, with the Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn across the street? Yes, if you're in Michigan. In Illinois, the B&N is next to the Chipotle, the Pottery Barn is at the other end of the shopping center next to the Gap. There's no real local cultural diversity anymore, proven by the many thousands of miles I've logged from Boston to DC to Colorado and everything in between. It's just one *!&#!&* Applebee's/Target/Starbucks after another. (*I would like it clearly on the record that the aforementioned Mall of America is a classic example of all this collective badness under one very large roof, and I was dragged there against my will and plied with alcohol to deaden my pain at the experience.)

The AutoGrill, with their clean and well-lit collection of made-fresh-today sandwiches, that they will HEAT IN A PANINI MACHINE while you wait! And then they'll whip you up an espresso for less than a buck. Now that America seems to have the strip shopping mall experience down to a science, perhaps we can redirect our urban planners' efforts into creating clean and consistent, perhaps even enjoyable, roadside stops on major highways? Instead, the midwest seems to be littered with sketchy, grimy, dimly lit Mobil stations crammed full of Funyuns and Beef Jerky and other packaged food of uncertain expiration date. I envy all you men out there who can pee anywhere, whereas gals like me on inter-state drives develop bladders of steel to avoid stopping at one of these joints (though I must admit that getting leered at by mullet-headed truckers is always an ego boost).

More musings from the road coming shortly, I promise. But for now, I've gotta run: UBlend just walked in the door and there's a martini somewhere with our name on it.

You should have one too, in celebration of the truly good things in America. Happy Weekend!


Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

I did wonder.
Also no turkish toilets in the USA. And real honest-to-god Maine lobster and raspberries you can afford without a second mortgage. Credit where creit is due. I'm still staying here. I'll just convert this country to a country of wildly diverse and incredibly delicious insalatone. Maybe even introduce salad dressing! Boh!

5:21 PM  
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