Yesterday was a bright bright sunshiny day, which inspired me to make an exception to my normal Saturday morning practice of lying on the couch and napping while watching the news. Instead, I headed across the street to the park rather earlier than usual. It was lunchtime and the place was packed to the gills with picnickers.
I don’t know if I have mentioned this before but there is somewhat of a design flaw in the area cani in Villa Pamphili: it is only place in the park where there are picnic tables. So naturally the picnickers all flock there. But it is also one of the few places that dogs can be off-leash. You may be able to imagine the rest. Here’s the scenario that I have seen play out about 100 million times: picnickers organize a nice spread in the area cani at one of the tables or perhaps on a blanket on the ground. They may not even know it’s the dog zone because the signs denoting it as such are only up for a few days about every three months since they get knocked down by vandals almost immediately. Idiots. So, the picnickers are happily eating their pasta and whatever and all of the dogs in the zone (and because it’s a nice day for picnicking, there are plenty of dogs) come over and start nosing around. It’s more of an issue for the on-the-ground picnics than for the ones on the table although there is one dog who shall be nameless (his name rhymes with Gorgan) who believes that the picnic tables are his own personal domain — he likes to jump on them the better to observe his kingdom — and he has no qualms about jumping onto a picnic table full of food (and once, smack dab in the middle of a birthday cake). Then the picnickers yell at the dog owners, “Get your dog out of here!!!” and the dog owners yell at the picnickers, “This is the dog area. If you don’t want to deal with dogs, go somewhere else!” And they continue to yell at each other until everyone’s day is ruined. Ball-throwers and kite-flyers face the same degree of canine interest in the dog zone and the results are usually the same.
Lately I’ve noticed that Morgan has a new routine. He runs over to a blanket where a picnic is occurring and sticks his head directly into the first purse, backpack or bag he can find. If the purse or backpack is zipped, he starts pulling on the zipper with his teeth. He’s not succeeded with that yet but it’s just a matter of time.
The picnickers — for the most part teenagers — are usually distracted by how awesome and cool they are (and are frequently, shall we say, entwined) so they don’t see him at first. When they do, he immediately launches a major charm offensive, rolling on his back with his legs up in the air, rubbing against them like a cat and just generally being adorable (which he is).
After a few minutes of this, the picnickers are oohing and ahhing at Morgan’s cuteness and he generally scores a bit of pizza crust out of the deal. And then he immediately runs to the next picnic blanket and starts all over again. Genius. He hit six picnics yesterday and got a little snack at every one of them! BTW, there is a subset of the Italian teen — female persuasion — who thinks she’ll be more attractive to boys if she’s afraid of dogs so when Morgan approaches this idiot she’ll go, “Oooh help! I am so afraid! Protect me!” I’m like, “Moron. This dog is the size of your average kitty cat. Get a life.”
This weekend, Eataly held its second annual street food festival and my friend Daniela and I went along to check it out. It was splendid.
The deal was that you bought chips (known as gettone, which are also the name of the things you used to use to make phone calls back in ye olde days of phone booths) and exchanged them for different street foods available around the food court. In addition to Italian street food (think pizza, focaccia and gelato), there were plates dedicated to Germany (currywurst), China (porky dumplings), Greece (gyros), Morocco (cous-cous), Vietnam (bahn mi), Thailand (pad thai), Mexico (chicken tacos), Spain (paella), Argentine (empanadas) and the USA (cupcakes — snore). As usual, my eyes were way bigger than my stomach and I bought four gettone. But after a chicken taco and a trapizzino filled with picchiapò, (peek-ee-ya-poe), which is a spiced boiled beef stew and one of my favorite words ever (it means ‘a little beat up’), I was done. That may have also had something to do with all of the free cheese on offer, of which I partook heavily. I used my leftover chips on take-home dumplings from the Chinese vender. Dinner!