Good Smells and Bad Calls

How is it living in Italy? It’s about the same. Bureaucracy is still bureaucracy, complete with estimations of time that include the phrase, “I’m not responsible for…” In Italy, men’s colognes are trending towards fresh, fruity florals just like they are in Deutschland. Surprising, I know, given the onset of winter! When I first smelled a flowery men’s cologne it was in late Spring in Hamburg, out for a stroll with the kids. We were walking behind a well-dressed man who we followed for an additional three blocks* because he smelled so deliciously surprising. In the weeks that followed, we ran into more and more men wearing powerful, sweet perfumes, most of them just fantastic and a few embarrassingly bad. Since the move to Italy, these smells are almost commonplace. When we visit Olathe, Colorado for the holidays, we will see if the trend is worldwide**.

Speaking of Olathe, living in Italy has not spared me pre-election troll calls. I have an Olathe-based Skype number that rings through to me in Italy. Because of the time change, these calls come somewhere between 11pm and 3am Italian time. I’ve been getting literally three calls per night from Gun Owners of America asking me to take a survey, consider my options, and vote. Gun Owners of America is getting it all wrong because:

  • I do not live in America. I live in Italy.
  • I am so pro gun-control I can barely even type the word gun.
  • Even if I lived in America, which I don’t, and had a gun, which I won’t, I would lease it. Do you know how much that new gun devalues the minute you drive it off the lot?!

Go fuck yourself, Gun Owners of America. I will not vote for your crazy Republican candidate for Colorado governor who thinks that an IUD is an abortion. (An IUD, or intrauterine device, prevents pregnancy. If you’re not pregnant, you don’t need an abortion. Not a difficult concept to grasp, right?)


*I hold tight to the theory that, difficult as it is to look chic with two small children in tow, it is even harder to look creepy.

**No world is wide enough to make the good men of Olathe, Colorado wear floral perfumes. Elk musk, maybe, depending on the time of year.


Damn you, Martha Stewart, and your pumpkin spice latte recipe that a.) tastes nothing like a pumpkin spice latte, and b.) ruins the ‘Betsy is Incredibly, Incredibly Busy’ illusion completely. If you have 30 minutes to steep a whole nutmeg, you have time for everything else on your list.

Here’s a hint: don’t fuck with tradition. You’ve never just thrown a whole nutmeg in a recipe, right? You’ve grated it, or ignored it completely and used powdered nutmeg from a can. Great news, you’ve been doing it right all along. Martha Stewart’s food editors, walking the fine line between luxuriously indulgent and too goddamned lazy to break out the Microplane, decided to use 18 pumpkin pies’ worth of nutmeg in a sitting by just throwing the whole fucking thing into a pan of hot milk. Oh, and let’s add a cinnamon stick and some ginger just in case we forgot that Christmas is only 2.4 months away. The end result is some cinnamony hot milk that tastes like soap from the ginger. Things it does not taste like:

  • Warm Autumnal Sunshine
  • Crisp Leaves Underfoot
  • Being Wrapped in Your Favorite Sweater
  • Any Starbucks product, ever
  • Nutmeg

Ok, so my expectations might have been unrealistic. You don’t get a Starbucks-like product out of 4 ingredients in your home kitchen. You don’t get the  Warm Autumnal Sunshine taste out of that mix, either, unless at least two of the ingredients are maple syrup. Crisp Leaves Underfoot probably taste like slugs, and if you’re drinking an infusion made out of someone’s favorite sweater you’re probably not in it for the taste. Which brings us back to the nutmeg. The milk tasted nothing like nutmeg, so the nutmeggy goodness still remains in the nutmeg itself, right? Which means that I should try to save the nutmeg? By drying it out, smelling it carefully for signs of milk spoilage, scrubbing it until the fifth time it drops into the sink, then boiling it in hot water until sterile? And then placing it at the back of the line of the 28 nutmegs I brought from Germany to Italy?

In Germany, I used a nutmeg or two a month. That’s a huge amount of nutmeg, but we put it in mashed potatoes, cream sauces, pancakes, anything with spinach, etc. After moving to Italy, I converted my high-volume nutmeg grinder into a parmesan grinder and we’re down to using a nutmeg a year like God and nature intended. Which means that, according to my calculations, I’m going to spend a lot of time wondering why my pumpkin pie doesn’t taste like pumpkin pie in the year 2042. Damned double-boiled nutmeg.