Friday, January 25, 2008

Drivers Training Sicilian Style

This morning I made the huge mistake of waking Matt up early, 10:00 a.m., to give him a refresher course in driving a stick shift, I kind of expected Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland. His biggest worry was going from a dead stop, uphill in rush hour (O.K., normal Catania) traffic. I got him on a quiet isolated road to start, he did fine for a novice so I had him drive us all the way into town!

When we got into downtown I got out of the car to check on plane tickets at the Air Malta offices and let him drive solo for a bit. From there he got us back to the office in one piece. It brought back memories of teaching Drivers Training at Westlake H.S. 20+ years ago when all my heart and ulcer problems started. Matt has this Jack Nicholson laugh when he gets in a tight spot driving like in movie "The Shining". It's a little bit scary when you're in the passengers seat and he does it!

After leaving the office last night we went on a minor food binge. First stop Etoile D'or for a pastry stuffed with ham, cheese and onions. We followed that with a DELICIOUS pistachio and ricotta cheese canoli! Still not full we stopped at Jonathan's Panini Stand to get a pork, cheese, eggplant and tomato panini smothered in French fries (patatine).

A note about patatine, I've previously alluded to them on pizzas. I've also seen them in croissants and of course on paninis. Patatine are a main staple in Sicilian street side eateries. Who am I to fight it? When in Catania...

At Jonathan's we were joined by the lovely Elena, picture, Gustavo's girlfriend. She had just come from an English class she is taking so we spoke in English to give her some extra practice. Elena is very petite, outgoing and funny. She brightens up the room when she enters and her English is very endearing!

Matt and I, pictures, are both trying to find the panini at the bottom of the fries!

We also saw a purple cow, check our QB Jason Johnson's blog for an explanation of this term, last night. As noted previously people here park anywhere and anyway possible. Double parking is routine but make sure your 4 way flashers are on. Triple parking is not odd. There's a spot on the sidewalk...GO FOR IT! Crosswalks are usually a good place to park too. Space too small to parallel park? Just head straight in and leave the rear 1/3 of your car in the traffic lane. I must admit to having already done some of these things.

Now for the purple cow, last night while driving near the Roman Amphitheater we saw an illegally parked car being towed away! This was a first for me, so I asked the people when was the last time that happened? No one could clearly remember such a thing happening but they were all pretty sure that the Pope was still an Italian when it did.

No internet on the weekend, see you Monday with the weekend's updates, CIAO!


Pryingi said...

I empathize with Matt 100%. For I was there, some 27 years prior. Having the tag-team WHS drivers instructors of Shotliff and Contreras was much akin to deciding whether to choose lethal injection or the gas chamber. Memories of that poor Ford Falcon with three-on-the-tree and GWC's face whenever someone blew through a stop sign.


Pryingi said...

I have been giving your attendance challenge some serious thought.

Play to the Italian males weakness...
Schedule practice the same day the cheerleaders are there for their practice.

Attendance problem solved.