There are places where the menu is written in chalk on the front door. Where we drank coffee in the morning while the garbage collector came to empty the barrels in the piazza, and seagulls dove over the clay rooftops and still-shuttered windows.
In this place with the chalk/door menu, you don’t ask questions, at least not about the food. Instead, you ask the chef how his family is. Unless of course they’re all working in the restaurant, in which case you walk up to each of them for a kiss on both cheeks, and to give them a bit of a hard time.
Or, if you’re a newcomer, if you’re an American newcomer, you smile and nod a lot and over-react to every course, to be sure that your appreciation makes it across the language barrier. You nod and ask for more even when you are bursting, wiping your lips and the wine on a napkin, and with every empty plate you turn bright eyes onto everyone there, everyone waiting to be sure you have been fed.
Waiting to see how deeply you have appreciated each flavor, sending you tottering into the night down the narrow stone alley, where you see a moon and three men repairing light fixtures. Hoping that somehow the salt air and the cool night will turn your fullness into a story.