Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Note to Self: Don't Drink a Negroni Alone

I am not a drinker. One glass of wine is usually enough for me, and hard liquor can make me sick. But I am a sucker for color, especially the reddish orange that is part of my business logo, and when I learned of the Negroni, an Italian aperitivo of that hue, I simply had to try it.

And so I did last evening, after taking in a view of Rome from the Janiculum hill and before having dinner. I was in Trastevere (which I think means, "Across the Tiber"), an artsy and relatively quiet neighborhood on the other side of the river from Rome's historic center. Trastevere has many bars with outdoor seating and plenty of trattorie. As I am wont to do, I walked back and forth, forth and back, trying to figure out which one beckoned. Finally, after wearing myself out, I sat down at a small place off the square that didn't seen to have so many tourists.

The drink's color was strong. To call the drink strong would be an understatement. After a few sips I could feel my consciousness split, as if I were having an out of body experience. My central nervous system began to go into a tailspin, while the small part of me that was still lucid advised me not to stand up. It also instructed me to drink some water, which I did, and to eat something. The Negroni came with a snack of prosciutto, which I don't eat, so the waiter substituted chips. But these were not hefty enough to counterbalance the alcohol (don't ask me what is in it - I can't remember!).

Luckily, a not unattractive man sat down at a table to my left and we started chatting, which distracted me long enough so that the alcohol could pass through my system. This fellow, from Holland, was in Rome for a month to learn Italian, but he didn't seem to mind speaking English with me. By the time the Negroni had mostly worn off, the restaurant I wanted to try was open (the non-touristy places don't open until 8pm), and he agreed to join me for dinner.

If anyone is hoping or expecting to read some hot details, I can assure you that the food was warm. We both had chicken with tomatoes and olives. It was tasty, if not a tad too salty, except there was very little meat; mostly they used parts of the neck and other bony bits. I believe this is typical Roman cuisine, using parts of the animal that other regions ignore. Offal is a Roman specialty, but I think I'd need to be knocked out by a Negroni or two before offal would seem anything other than awful.

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