Subject: Most Memorable Meal
Ciao Ziners,

Since Linda suggested a memorable meal thread, I think this is a perfect time to tell this story from my eighth trip to Italy in the fall of 2002.

During the week of November 17, while I was in Sorrento, I had engaged a driver to take me on a drive down the Amalfi Coast. I have done this drive before but wanted to experience it again. November 19 was a beautiful day especially after Vesuvius and Pompeii in the rain. Sorrento Limo is the company I was riding with, an excellent company I chose from recommendations on a message board. We started down the Amalfi Drive, stopped to gaze down at Positano, found out the sea was too rough for the boat ride to the Green Grotto, and so continued on toward Amalfi. When we were almost there, a sign warned us that because of the heavy rain there had been a rock fall and the road near Amalfi was closed.

After I saw the steps I could take to walk down to the town (and, of course, back up again), I decided that I had been to Amalfi before and did not need to go again. The drive is the experience as far as I'm concerned ! My driver was very upset, but it certainly was not his fault that the rocks had fallen. He wanted to do something to make up for the fact that he could not take me to Amalfi and Ravello. He asked if I would like to visit a farm of a friend near Sorrento. I said sure. And that turned into a great experience.

This farm has been in the family for seven generations. Counting the new baby born to my host's niece, four generations live on the farm now. All the men except Mario's father also work outside of the farm. Each branch has its own part of the big buildings that house the living areas. Mario showed me over parts of the farm, and I visited the pigs, chickens, wine cellar, olive oil storage area and saw much more, including 100 year old olive trees and self seeded artichokes. The date on the original building, now used for the wine, is 1662. Everything is grown organically. They buy sugar, coffee, and probably dried pasta, though Mario did not mention the latter.

After the tour Gennaro, my driver, and I ate lunch with Mario and his family. I get hungry just thinking about the meal. Mario's wife Philomena made the mozzarella cheese, and his father made the salami we ate as part of the antipasti. We also had home cured olives, artichokes and zucchini preserved in olive oil and still crunchy, and a small preserved cherry pepper stuffed with tuna fish, just a bit spicy. Mario and I were the only ones to try this.

Then for the first course we had pasta with tomato sauce from home canned tomato puree, a jar of which I saw. The sauce also included "just a bit of lard" for the flavor. I also saw a jar of home canned lard! The main course was Italian sausage made by Mario's father with french fries that Philomena sliced and fried and broccolini sauteed in olive oil. This was the one part of the meal that I did not love--a bit bitter in taste I think. With all of this we drank a delicious homemade white wine. In the midst of the meal, Mario and Philomena's older son came home from middle school and joined us for lunch. Guess what--he didn't eat any green vegetable, not too different from my nieces and nephews at that age! We finished with dessert of roasted chestnuts, which had been in the oven when we arrived and apples from their trees and then a homemade digestivo.

While I thought I might have to roll out to the van, I loved every minute of this experience. It is the kind that I will always remember. Without a doubt this was my best experience of a wonderful trip and a most memorable meal. May you all find a wonderful experience like this somewhere in your travels.

Sincerely, Joan in Illinois