by Melinda Gallo

Lampredotto a pranzo

After a brief visit at the Paperback Exchange on via delle Oche where I perused a few books that I have been wanting to buy, I walked down via dello Studio toward the Duomo. A crowd of young Japanese students walked toward me chatting gaily among themselves. I felt happy just to walk past them as I could feel their excitement ad possibly even wonder for my beloved city.

I walked along the street that saddles up against the Duomo and caught a glimpse of the golden ball with the cross on top. It seemed to have been hidden for so long while they were working on that part of the Duomo that now when I see it, I smile.

I met Alessandro behind the Duomo so we could go get a panino con lampredotto (sandwich made with tripe) at the lampredottaio (tripe stand) near the mercato di Sant'Ambrogio. I have walked past this particular lampredottaio many times, but just never bought a panino from him. Usually I'm on my way to the mercato (market) and just don't have time to grab a quick bite to eat.

We went to another lampredottaio a few weeks ago off of via dei Cerchi. The panino we had was good, but I thought that before I go back, I'd like to try another lampredottaio.

Alessandro ordered us each a panino, "Piccante con la salsa verde. (Spicy with the green sauce, which is made with parsley, garlic, and olive oil)," he said to the younger man behind the chiosco (stand). I watched him scoop out the lampredotto from a metallic container and chop it up on a cutting board in front of him. He cut the rosetta (small roll used for this type of panino) and placed the lampredotto on top. He shook the salt and pepper shakers on top and poured the two salse (sauces) on top: the piccante (spicy) one and the salsa verde.

He took the top of the rosetta and inzuppato nel brodo (dipped it in the broth). He quickly placed it on top of the lampredotto and gently slid it into a paper sleeve so that we wouldn't drip anything on ourselves. "Prendete anche un po' di vino se volete. (Take some wine if you want it.)," he said. I looked at the bottle of red wine sitting in front of me, but I didn't pour myself any. Although while I was eating my panino, I wished that I did because it would probably taste really delicious together. But, if I drink wine at lunch, I'll be asleep before I get home.

I sat on one of the stools to the side of the chiosco and enjoyed my panino while I watched the other customers talking and the people walking by. I had never sat at this corner near the chiesa (church) and just watched people. Usually, I am one of the people walking by to get somewhere else.

I felt as if I were in the heart of Florence eating my panino. I giggled a few times as the young man was quite scherzoso (jovial) and was joking around with two of the regulars.

After we finished our panini, we walked down via Pietrapiana toward Piazza Salvemini to grab a quick dolce (dessert). I have been wanting to try the gelato affogato (drowned ice cream) for weeks when I saw another girl buy it.

I ordered a small one and watched the Japanese girl take a clear plastic cup and fill it with cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) and plopped in a spoonful of vanilla gelato. When she handed it to me, I felt like a small child fortunate enough to get such a wonderful treat. I didn't even wait for Alessandro to get his gelato to taste my gelato affogato. I was so happy that it tasted even better than it looked.

We sat down on the wooden bench outside the shop and were busy concentrating on our gelati that we didn't say much to each other. For the first time, I finished my gelato before Alessandro and I wondered why I didn't order a larger one.

We were fortunate that it was a sunny day even though it wasn't that warm. The last time we had a panino con lampredotto it was raining and we were forced to eat it quickly and run home. It was fantastic to walk around a little bit trying to get some of the sun that was peeking between and over a few buildings on our faces to warm us up. It couldn't have been a better Saturday for our special lunch.

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