Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Finally, some good food in Perugia…

…and it came from a Slovakian sausage stand! This is no joke. This week there is a row of stands/booths stretching up and down the entire length of main drag Corso Vannucci, with vendors peddling artisanal foods, and also jewelry, holiday crap, and other junk. It’s some event that Perugia has every year at this time. At the southern end of the street, Terezia noticed a group of stands with a Slovakian flag, so we went over to check it out. Sure enough, there were four booths, all manned by Slovakians, selling various things. Terezia chatted with a few of them (they seemed pleasantly surprised to see a fellow Slovakian here in Perugia), and this funny, older guy with a white beard and medieval-looking folk garb who was selling handmade copper jewelry, invited us over for shots of jablkovica (made from apples) which he poured from a water bottle stashed under his table! Oh, Slovakia.

Finally, we both got a Slovakian sausage from a lady at a sausage stand, and oh my god, these were damn good sausages. Ever since I first tasted Slovakian sausage last year when we were there over the holidays, I have maintained that no other sausage in the world can compare to it. That bland garbage that people try to pass off as sausage in America shouldn’t even be called sausage. Slovakian sausage is an art form; a thing of true culinary beauty. The complexity, the layers of flavors, the juiciness, etc., all make for a truly life-altering experience. And this particular sausage was f-ing amazing. I couldn’t help but exclaim, “wow!” with every bite I took. Italians evidently know this, because the poor lady was already running out of sausage! Sadly, very little of the Italian food we’ve eaten in Perugia can stack up to these sausages. We’ll be back for more tomorrow. The whole experience made us feel like we were at “home.”

 At any rate, apparently today is All Saints Day. Being a staunchly non-religious type (and from the US, no less), I can only scratch my head at these sorts of catholic holidays. They celebrate it in Slovakia, too. Apparently one of the traditions is to buy flowers for your dead relatives in the cemetery, so the cemeteries supposedly all look very floral, today. We were a bit worried, actually, because all the shops were closed this morning (this is a national holiday, after all), but places started opening up in early afternoon.

My rant for the day: fuck Wells Fargo. Fuck them in the ear. Terezia and I have wasted many euros having to call them multiple times because they keep blocking our ATM cards! Yes, we’d told them about our travel plans, we’d done everything you’re supposed to do, and yet, we keep running into this stupid card blocking problem (ostensibly due to some “fraud alerts” in several European countries), and each time we have to call them and tell them to unblock the stupid cards. I understand the need for fraud-protection, but how is this supposed to be helping us? I wonder if anyone else has been having this problem? I’ve never encountered this before when traveling, and it’s seriously frustrating.

Finally, we had what was yet another so-so dinner in Perugia. We went with our guts (no pun intended) and tried a place not mentioned in books or on-line, but which had a very promising menu, and a vibe that just felt right. Things started off with a bang with an amazing antipasto: a tortino di funghi porcini con crema di tartufo. This was basically like a savory bread pudding in the shape of a panna cotta, filled with extremely potent, flavorful porcini (and probably moistened with a porcini stock), over which was poured a truffle sauce that was creamy without being heavy, which gave off that yummy, truffle-y flavor in spades. This plate of pure awesomeness raised our expectations for the pasta. Sadly, expectations were not met. After taking a break from pasta/porcini dishes the previous night, I gambled on a tagliatelle with porcini dish, which was kind of dry, over-salted, and under-herbed. Terezia ordered Umbricelli, which is similar to pici (like thick spaghetti), which came with a black truffle and porcini sauce. Her dish was so-so, but nowhere near as brilliant as that awesome porcini tortino. I would go back to that place and just order three of those tortinos: for antipasto, primo, and secondo. Oh well…

What can we do? We’ve asked locals, we’ve read the guidebooks, perused chowhound and slow travel message boards, and still, we’ve found nothing like some of the great food we found in Florence. Maybe Perugia is just not a town for food snobs. 

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