I’m full. Like the, someone may kill me later, remove my stomach, bake the content and feed an indigenous family of twelve, kind of full.
Once again, we have just devoured a gorgeous meal of wine, swordfish, capers, tomatoes and olives, a giant Caprese salad and various snack-like appetizers. Now, we are sitting, a little hunched over, looking at the dessert menu.
I am a big believer in looking at the sweets offerings, no matter how much food I’ve consumed in my main courses. I want to know if there is anything I may regret not eating, should I be hit by a bus later and find, from my cloud in heaven, I could’ve ended on a nice tirimisu or ice cream sundae.
The restaurant is nearly empty, but I can feel the eyes of someone on me and turn to look at a women across the room. In front of her is a half consumed bottle of red wine and the sparse remnants of whatever she had eaten for a main dish. As we regard each other, I imagine she is sending me subliminal messages; You are in Italy, of course you should eat the dessert, amateur. “Did you hear that?” I said to my friend. “Hear what?” she responded.
Our waiter stops at the woman’s table and, in Italian, asks if she would like dessert. She eyeballs me. “Ci,” she replies, pointing to some delight. The waiter smiles, he loves that she wants dessert, on top of the wine, on top of the meal and perhaps even, on top of the appetizer. Italian woman know how to eat and this pleases Italian men. I think I may be witnessing some sort of foreplay.
He moves to our table, repeats the question to us. No, we couldn’t possibly, we say. We are about to explode, we gesture. It all looks so good, we demure. He is disappointed, indignant even. Again I hear a disembodied voice..."amateurs."
A few moments later he slides a giant, beautiful, multi-layered panne cotta in front of our neighbor. She smiles. He smiles. He shifts slowly on his feet, while she lifts her spoon and dips it intently into the giving creamy soft cheese. She caresses the edges of her lips with her spoon, parting them slowly to the sweetness awaiting her eager tongue. He watches intently and she glides the spoon into her mouth and lets it linger there. She smiles again. He shifts, placing a hand on his hip, the other hand on her table. He nods, yes, yes, it is good. Kittenishly, she looks up at him and removes the spoon. They look at each other, relaxed and knowing. He leaves her and she watches him walk away, her second bite already meeting her open mouth.
I should’ve had the panne cotta.