This week ran away from me. I lost it first thing Monday morning when I boarded the train and dropped into a seat by the window with the Sicilian murder mystery I was reading on my Kindle. As the train rumbled toward the center of Rome, the book’s characters shot at each other, swam in the sea and crashed a couple of cars, but kept eating. I highlighted the food references as I came across them: pasta con le sarde with sardines, wild fennel, saffron, pine nuts, raisins and toasted breadcrumbs, snails in tomato sauce or attuppateddri al sugo in Sicilian, or how about the street food mèusa made from boiled lamb spleen topped with the local caciocavallo cheese, or pasta ‘ncasciata, a great mound of pasta cloaked in eggplant and baked in the oven.
I contemplated better destinations than the office. I should have switched trains, skipped the metro and maybe hopped onto the high speed line to Florence for lunch, tucking into an out of the way trattoria for a bistecca alla fiorentina, a Florentine t-bone steak made from the tall, white Chianina cattle, one of the oldest breeds in the world. The steak is cooked almost bare over a bed of chestnut embers, touch of olive oil, sprinkling of salt and pepper and served still rare, still dripping. Or I could be sidling up to a street food stand to order a lampredotto panino or tripe sandwich with a splash of hot sauce and a shot of cheap red wine in a plastic cup as a chaser.
As I read on, a staggering number of characters in the mystery kept dying. At one point, even the inspector had lost so much blood in the aftermath of a late night shootout that they weren’t sure he would make it. My sleepy mind wandered. I stared out the train window between pages as the tall grass with a smattering of blood red poppies slid by. We don’t have poppies where I come from and their vibrant, casual beauty always startles me here, where they grow as carelessly as weeds. Bright yellow flowers littered the ground between them. Buttercups perhaps?
It was when my eyes drifted up to the swaths of stately elder flowers that I realized something was wrong. There were too many flowers. It was too green. This was not my morning commute. The train should be crossing a bridge looking down at a flood of tired, tiny cars struggling toward another day at the office as we chugged into the station. Focused on lunch, distracted by my book, and engrossed with flowers, I had missed my train stop entirely. Work would have to wait until I managed to get there. My life in Rome.