Happy Hour

When I first came to Italy, I was keen to find out about the nightlife in my local town. I was invitehappy-hour-batmand out by a group of friends, who took me to a cosy little bar in the centre of town. It was a characteristic place; old, black and white pictures of famous people who had sipped a cool beer at the bar, while surrounded by about a million punters, keen to be part of the famous picture; retro poster advertisements of famous alcoholic drinks, and some more obscure ones; paraphernalia from various clients who had left hurriedly in an inebriated state, leaving items of clothing (there was even a collection of bras: how one can forget them I don’t know); newspaper clippings of stories involving the bar in some local beer-drinking, chilli-eating or cake eating competition. It was like a little museum tucked away in the back streets. I had to pinch myself so as to come back to my senses. It was like a dream-world in this place. In fact, my friends had been calling me several times before I came round and heard them.They had been trying to get me to come to the bar. As I looked up I realised why: along the entire length of the bar the owner had laid out an entire spread of typical Italian food. There was a leg of cured ham on a kind of spit to support it while it was sliced with what could be described as a fair-sized machete. Next to this hunk of wonderfully sweet-smelling meat, was an entire round of Parmesan cheese, accompanied with something similar to a pick-axe. Bread had been laid out too, though it was uncut and enormous, again there was a long bread-knife which really meant business. Pizza had been made especially by the looks of it, as it was in no way from the local Speedy Pizza.They told me to take something, though I wasn’t really hungry; there was so much food and it was still early. I answered meekly, that I would wait. They all looked at each other and laughed: there won’t be any left later! I couldn’t believe it, thinking they were joking.About an hour later, the bar was packed and all,the food had gone. I was beginning to get hungry, so I found a soggy bit of pizza and some Parmesan cheese crumbs and two flakes of ham.I soon understood that in Italy everything is done in reverse here; first you eat then you drink. What more beautiful way to experience Italy than to enter a typical bar like this one! I had fallen in love with the country.

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