by Melinda Gallo

Il San Valentino

For il San Valentino (Saint Valentine's day), Dave and I decided to eat at Il Canapone, my friend Simone's restaurant. We were thinking about staying home or going to a restaurant that is closer to our apartment, but despite the freezing cold weather, we walked down to Santo Spirito for a delicious meal.

I called Simone yesterday afternoon to make reservations. He suggested I call as soon as I knew, but the day before was the earliest. We had thought of going for sushi, but Eito is closed on Mondays and it was too risky to wait until Tuesday.

We arrived at around 8:30PM. Normally we're the first ones to arrive at 8PM, so I try to arrive later now. Simone thinks that it's funny that we come so early. Most people came in around 9 to 9:30PM. Some of the tables hadn't even arrived until after we left.

At Simone's restaurant, his portions are quite large, so I try to pace myself. I had the Crema di zucca gialla (yellow squash soup) and the calamari ripieni (stuffed calamari). Dave had the homemade tortelli con pecorino (pecorino cheese tortelli) and tagliata di manzo con roquefort (beef steak with roquefort cheese).

There were two guys sitting next to us: one of them, the man sitting across from me, stared at our plates to figure out what we were eating. He smiled and said, "Sono i calamari ripieni codesti?" (Are those the stuffed calamari). I told him, "Sono i tortelli. Ho ordinato io i calamari ripieni come secondo." (Those are tortelli. I ordered the stuffed calamari for my next course). He and his friend said that maybe they should wait to order so they could see our dishes.

After having looked around at the other tables where there were couples of men without women, I remembered my conversation with Valentina (who is one of Simone's business partners) and she told me that she's still single. I told her that it should be easy for her to meet men because she is so beautiful and outgoing, but she told me, "A Firenze due terzi sono gay" (In Florence, two-thirds are gay).

Florence has a reputation of having a large population of gay men. They say it is a historical fact dating back to Dante, but I'm not certain of that. I do know that there are a lot of locali (bars) that cater to the gay community.

When our neighbor saw Dave's tagliata, he let out a gasp. "Cavolo!" (Wow!), he said. He was surprised at the size of his steak, which was quite big considering the primo was also abbondante (copious). I did notice that they both ate the exact same dishes we did.

Needless to say that when it was time for dessert, we couldn't resist the cuoricino al cioccolato (chocolate cake in the form of a heart). We shared it, but we only ate it because we siamo golosi (have a sweet tooth).

We walked back to the bar to pay our bill and then I went to say goodbye to Simone who was busy in the kitchen. When we were ready to leave, I walked past our two dinner neighbors and the talkative one looked up at me and said, "Ciao, buona serata!" (Bye, have a nice evening).

We weren't happy about the relatively long walk to the restaurant, but we were more than happy to walk home after all that we ate.

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