by Melinda Gallo

My first Italian doggie bag

After living in Europe for many years, I have never taken any food home from a restaurant. In France, the waiters would balk at me if I even suggested such a thing. In England, I don't remember ever taking food home unless it was a take-away restaurant. And, in Italy, most Italians seem to finish their plates and I have never seen anyone leave a restaurant with a doggie bag.

This evening, Dave and I went out with our friend Marco who lives in Germany now. We went to a trattoria that Dave and I often go to. It's a family-type trattoria where you go to get a home cooked meal. We've been there quite a bit and the camerieri (waiters) all know us.

Our cameriere likes to tease me because for some reason when I go there, I like to get pasta in bianco (pasta with butter or oil). I can't explain why. It just feels very nurturing, as if my own mother was making me pasta.

Today, I didn't order my typical pasta in bianco because even Marco told me that was silly. I finished my plate of risotto ai funghi porcini (risotto with porcini mushrooms) and then was served my osso bucco. I looked at the huge portion of food and took a few bites. I was already sazia (full), but I felt I had to make a dent in my secondo (main dish).

Our cameriere came up to me and said, "Non puoi lasciare il piatto pieno cosė." (You can't leave the plate full like that.) He then looked at Dave, "Dagli una mano!" (Give her a hand!) But, Dave was sazio too. "Allora non era buono?" (So it wasn't good?), the waiter asked me. "Era buonissimo. Lo mangerei volentieri domani, ma ora non ce la faccio. Sono sazia." (It was delicious. I'd gladly eat it tomorrow, but right now I can't. I'm full.)

"Se vuoi, te lo metto in una vaschetta e lo porti a casa." (If you want, I'll put it in a container and you take it home.) I had never had anyone ask me that although he did add that he only offers it to his friends because it's a little cafone (uncivilized) to offer to real customers. He took my plate away and returned with my food in a blue plastic bag. I did feel a little cafone, but I didn't care. I got my first Italian doggie bag!

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