Dive In

June 15, 2009
By Saeeda Quansah SILVER, Manassas, Virginia
Saeeda Quansah SILVER, Manassas, Virginia
6 articles 0 photos 3 comments

“Està riquísima,” I muttered in broken Spanish to the elderly Italian waiter who was taking my empty dinner plate. I had just completed Spanish I and believed I was adroit enough to speak the language. According to my dad most Italians knew Spanish as well at their own native tongue. The waiter looked slightly uncomfortable with my sentence (had my dad been wrong?) but then smiled at my efforts (Whew!).

I had been in Italy for four days now and the only two Italian words I had picked up were “Uscita” meaning exit and “Gratzie” meaning thank-you. “Gratzie,” I thought, “why didn’t I just say gratzie?” The waiter looked at my classmate next to me and gave her an appraising look. She had not taken a single bite of her dinner. “You don’t like the food, this is good food.” So he does know English! The girl shook her head furiously and claimed she didn’t like pasta. Due to the girl’s absurdity I felt compelled to burst out into laughter. I wasn’t sure if she had completed a well-planned joke or was really backward enough to come to Rome, Italy of all places and refuse to eat its world renowned pasta. The idea was ludicrous. I wasn’t the only one who thought so either because the waiter became so fed-up with the girl’s behavior that he just stormed out of the room with only my single plate. My classmate did not show much of a reaction to the man’s curt departure but simply admonished it with an indifferent “whatever.”

I thought about what my school’s group had been doing the past couple of days in Italy. Some of us had jumped head first into the Italian sea of invigorating experiences in hopes of gaining a better knowledge of not only ourselves but the world around them. The ones who jumped into the water were quick to become enchanted with the mystery and vastness of Italy’s mistress: Mt. Vesuvius. The swimmers ate the Marguerite pizzas without reticence in hopes of imprinting the delicious flavors of the pizza into not only their tongues but minds forever. They danced to the beautiful sounds of the street musicians who inhabited Rome’s streets. These were the people who attained the true Italian experience. But of course just like everything in life there were a few people who decided to test the water with their feet first or like the impudent girl not even touch it. They were against the liberating and carefree ways of the trip and were adamant in their apprehension, even if it was usually seen as offensive. The minorities “feet first” methodology caused them to miss out on the chance to become enamored with the beauty of Italy.

The waiter soon returned with a restored calm and collected countenance. My classmate made sure to roll her eyes as the man took her full dinner plate and replaced it with a delicious-looking dessert. He then placed the same desert in front of me. Before I had even picked up a utensil to taste the heavenly smelling dish I looked up at the waiter’s face and repeated the words I had muttered weakly before, although this time my altruistic ways got the better of me, this time I used a strong voice, “Està riquísima.” He smiled down at me and patted me on the shoulder then let out a hearty laugh. “You are a good person,” he said while picking up the rest of the unwanted plates at the table. I learned how to swim in Italy.

The author's comments:
When I was in Italy I encountered many things. Some good some bad. I wanted to write about an experience I had in Italy that held them both.

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