I’d like to think all the guys down at the celle liked me - either that or their interest was piqued by the Texan with knee-high cowboy boots and a ragged-out topper. By day two of my staging with Dario Cecchini, I was becoming accustomed to being referred to as either, “Chuck Norris” or “Walker Texas Ranger.”
Apparently, Italians are a bit behind on American television and pop culture. Walker Texas Ranger is the hot show in Panzano.
Riccardo (Dario’s number two man) went as far as playing the "Walker Texas Ranger" theme song at the celle while we worked – even those who couldn’t speak English sang along. He talked many times about cooking Tex-Mex food for me and so on my first off day, Riccardo threw a Tex-Mex party at his house.
When I arrived, we all joined in preparing the food for the evening: guacamole, pico de gallo, roasted pork, and chicken wings.
I know what all you Texans are thinking right now – THAT AIN’T TEX-MEX!
But in our defense, it’s pretty difficult to find the necessary ingredients for an authentic Tex-Mex meal over here. Cilantro is non-existent and tortillas the same. However, after being away from home and missing Lola’s tacos for almost a month, I was ready to kill a bowl of guacamole.
The rest of our friends from Dario’s celle began to pile in and we had one hell of a time. My buddy Daniele even dressed up for the occasion. He donned a dinner-plate sized Harley Davidson belt buckle, roach-killer boots, and a Toby Keith cowboy hat. However, I could tell he had his eye on mine and was looking for a trade.
Eventually, it would come down to a poker game, but that is for another post.
The finished fare included chicken wings, a variety of grilled vegetables, and pulled pork tacos - yes, Riccardo miraculously scrounged up some flour tortillas in the middle of the Italian countryside. Topped with a dollop of guacamole, those pulled pork tacos made me reminisce of home and authentic Tex-Mex food.
I will admit I had a momentary pang of homesickness from it all.
I was amazed at the enormous amount of hospitality shown to me by my new Italian friends. They had only known me for a short time, but I found myself in their homes, eating, drinking, and laughing like one of them. For this, I am grateful and will always cherish their hospitality and friendship.
Daniele and Riccardo are already planning a trip to Texas if and when I open my own butcher shop. I promised them that if they came, I would make sure they got a true Texas topper on their head and some boots on their feet.