03 January 2008

"Quello piccolo cane veneziano"

Here is one of my friends, “that little Venetian dog” who lives in Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio. (Many of you have already heard this story; some of you even know this creature.)

I like to have my favorite lunch – a big, beautiful salad with an array of Italian cheeses and fresh cold cuts, accompanied by a foot-tall flute of glittering, organic prosecco – at a friendly enoteca called al Prosecco in that lovely campo.

Inevitably this four-legged beggar will show up with just exactly this expression on his face – a mix of arrogance and mild irritation, despite the obvious fact that he is clearly underfed and undoubtedly hungry. Sometimes he might snort slightly, but he does not fawn or whine. He simply stares at me, eyes narrowed, until I give in and offer him something from my plate.

But… what a fussy little beggar he is! He will snatch and snap up any scrap of salame, speck, or rare beef, bresaola or roast turkey, soppressata or baked ham. I have even seen him gobble up carrots and zucchini if nothing else looks promising. But if I offer him a fine, soft, pink sliver of prosciutto crudo, he furrows his brow, puts his snout in the air, and looks at me with such contempt that, I swear, it gives me a shiver. Then he turns and walks away without even looking back at me. I can almost hear him saying, sotto voce, “Jeez!” (or whatever the Italian equivalent is).