Let’s Talk Turkey


If you were ordering a whole turkey from a butcher in Italy how much would you expect it to weigh?


a.) as much as a glorified chicken

b.) so little, really, that forcing the butcher to say the weight would risk embarrassing him and might leave him with the impression that you are smugly comparing his product to the glorious size and astonishing growth rate of American turkeys

c.) somewhere around 6-8 kilos

When faced with this question last week, I blithely arranged for a turkey without asking if it would take two people to carry it to the train station. It would. Over the shoulder, mind you, because it was waaaay too heavy for a bag. Its size was comically monstrous, 14.9 kilos, a wonder of a beast until I, at 5:30 Thanksgiving morning, realized that removing two legs, two wings, AND a back was the only way it was going to fit into the oven. Thanks to Laura and Joe for going on the unintentionally back-breaking errand of turkey retrieval, and for taking it well when I only cooked a third of it to feed the eight of us.

So now we’re on to Christmas, which means that I’ve been eating a lot of panettone and trying to find powdered sugar in the local grocery. There are hazelnuts in the market right now that are ridiculously good, so good that Frida wakes up in the morning and goes downstairs to try to shell them herself. As sneaky habits go, that’s a fairly safe one, I think. Speaking of things I didn’t know my kids were doing, it looks like my 25% estimation of bidet-using members of my household needs to be doubled. When we moved in two months ago, Tobias genteelly hung a towel on the bidet-adjacent towel rack in our bathroom and we said nothing of it. To each his own. Yesterday, during a busy morning, I was using the kids’ bathroom (while the kids were brushing their teeth, which means I’m some sort of multitasking, in-leaning supermom,) and when I’d finished Frida said, ‘Aren’t you going to wash your bum? Like this!’ and then she hopped up on the kids’ bidet and I realized that Max was going to have to find a different sink to play in. And definitely a different drinking fountain.

Upon re-reading, that might not have been enough of an inducement for you to come visit. How about this? It’s the walk to the restaurant we went to for lunch on Monday.

Frida Walks to the Top

Drive uphill until you can’t drive anymore, then walk 15 minutes to the stone farmhouse at the top of the world. Pictured: Betsy, Frida, town of Lecco



The restaurant is really a family’s house, with the dining room on the second floor and the family’s living quarters on the first. They’re open only for reservations, and then have maximum 20 people and only one meal per day. The meal is 5 courses, takes 3 hours, and is both incredibly delicious and inexpensive. It is made by the wife and served by the husband, and in between courses we got to play with their three lovely daughters. The youngest of the daughters is eight weeks old, which means that the cook/cleaner/farmer/sausagemaker/baker/hostess had a baby in a pram with her in the kitchen, and took a pause every once in a while to breastfeed. Running a farm is hard. Running a restaurant is hard. Parenting a newborn is exhaustingly hard. Wow. Well done, Italian farm family!

The people that we went to lunch with were mostly Lithuanian, which must be the European equivalent of the U.S.’ midwesterners because when I said, ‘Can we go wash the dishes so that she can put her feet up?’ my friend laughed and said that she was thinking the same thing. We didn’t end up washing any dishes, though, instead thanking them profusely and promising to be back.

So, come to Italy! Marvelous views, wonderful food, hardworking people, and dishes that maybe they’ll let us help with next time once we get to know them a little better!





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