Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Milano: You Know You're Not in Seattle Anymore

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MILAN, Italy--You come up the escalator at the subway station, into the vast piazza (bigger than three Qwest Fields), and dead ahead is the shimmering pink marble fa├žade of the Duomo itself. Holy Something!

It can hold as many worshippers as descend on The Safe. It's the second highest church nave in Europe, as high as St. Peter's and only a couple of feet short of Beauvais (in France, never finished). Jaw-dropping, as you realize that it's getting the full brunt of the late afternoon sunlight.

You turn and face the sun, and there, across the piazza from the House of God, is the House of Mammon, or at least Eros: a giant, four-story billboard for Lovable bras & panties. The locals don't seem to notice, let alone care. Maybe they think the Saints have a sense of humor.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Segreta Storia" at Festa Italiana

Cornichon is getting on a plane Sunday afternoon, bound for Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. The Enoteca Regionale has put together a weeklong program for us to inspect some new vineyard tours. Dispatches and photos as often as time and wi-fi permit.

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To get in the mood, a quick visit to this weekend's
Italian Festival at Seattle Center.

These days, we live in a culturally diverse city, with 70 countries and 129 languages represented in the public school system alone. But in the early 1940s, Italians and Japanese made up the bulk of the region's immigrants. We know all-too-well the government-sanctioned hysteria that herded American citizens of Japanese ancestry into "relocation centers" after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

What's less documented is that Italian-Americans were also victims. Italians suspected of sympathizing with Mussolini's fascist government were interned; in San Francisco, the U.S. Coast Guard seized fishing boats owned by Italians. A silent, secret, shameful episode, chronicled in a sad exhibit titled "Una Storia Segreta."


It's not all gloomy history, however. Salumi, Seattle's world-class Italian sausage-maker, is sponsoring its second "Salami Challenge" to encourage both professional and amateur sausage-makers. (Read my article about last year's challenge here.)  The rest of the doings are predictable: wine tastings ($5), grape stomping, Italian movies, meatballs on a stick, Italian sausage sandwiches smothered in peppers and tomato sauce ($5). Continues through Sunday.