Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rice is from China

Last night a handful of us fellow relief workers; Steve (Miami), David (Melbourne), Jerry (Los Angeles) and I stopped into a little trattoria near the media village for dinner. It had to be the best Italian food I have ever tasted! Definitely the best we've had so far in Italy. We started with a pizza and bruschetta (pronounced Brus-ketta, the Italian-only speaking restaurant staff corrected us) then each ordered a pasta dish. The gnocchi (pronounced: knee-yocky - they corrected that too) was really delicious and the sauce with the pasta was great too!
Along with the pasta, pizza and bruschetta, we ordered some German beer (Bitburger - that's all they had) and some red wine.

But trying to communicate with the non-English speaking server and restaurant owner turned out to be a challenge. But highly entertaining. We tried so hard to order in Italian but we (actually the two American guys) kept using Spanish words.

At one point, Steve tried asking the waiter where the Shroud of Turin is kept. The waiter looked at him and shook his head. Steve then started grabbing the table cloth and shaking it saying "Jesus Christ!" Steve tried different combinations of "church" and pronouncing Jesus in Spanish. Then at one point it clicked with the waiter and we heard him say something-something "chiesa"; church. Then he rattled off the name of the church and some other garbled Italian. None of us could figure it out. We got "Duomo blah blah Torino" We ended up looking it up later.

The highlight of the night came when Dave (the Aussie) tried to ask the owner if Risotto originates from Torino (the city is considered the food capital of Italy - birthplace to chocolate too). David tried several combinations of Italian words with the word "Risotto." At one point David said said "Risotto di Torino?" and the owner replied, "Non, riso da Chine." Rice is from China.

At that point the owner left and came back a minute later to drop an Italian-English phrasebook on the table. Then 5 minutes later he dropped off the wine and a deck of playing cards with naked women on them. Why? I don't know, but it provided more entertainment.

The phrasebook came in handy. I looked up "Can I have the bill please?" and tried to be smart ass and make it more casual by saying
"Il conte, per favore" or "bill please?" The waiter corrected me..."conto?" What a dumbass!

We'll be back there for sure.

(L to R; Steve, me, David, and Jerry)

(Another note: the bathroom was interesting in the trattoria. A toilet that's basically a flushable hole in the ground with foot grips on the sides to squat over.)

Killing Time

Sorry about a lack of a post yesterday. It was my first day working...if you could call it that. I'm on the relief crew which means if someone drops out at a venue, we're sent to replace them. So far about half of our crew is assigned to a venue for the next few days; but the rest of us are sitting at the International Broadcast Centre waiting to go out. Like being a firefighter. Needless to say we have a lot of downtime right now and I didn't bring my laptop with me to the IBC. The Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow. So hopefully we'll start seeing some action soon.

We've been using some of our downtime to tour some of the venues that we may be working in. Yesterday we took a look in the Speed Skating Oval (see photo above) right next door to the Main Media Centre (where the IBC is located) While we were there, the Chinese, Italian, German and a few from the Canadian teams were doing practice skates. It's a great facility! Today we checked out the Palavela rink where the figure skating competitions will be held. Again proof that I was actually there.

We got to watch a French skater and Russian figure skater rehearse their routines.

As you can see they've supplied us with some very sweet swag. A jacket, fleece, two polo shirts, gloves, toque,
scarf, backpack, duffle bag, pants...I'm sure there's more. All for us to keep after the games. The jackets are really warm, but it hasn't been that cold in the city to need it.