Today I “Liked” the Facebook page
for Canton Marittimo even
though all the other posts are in Italian, which I don’ta speaka. I “liked” the
page because I “love” their cause: to convince Switzerland to buy the beautiful
Italian island of Sardinia. The creators of this page have persuasive
reasons for their proposal: The sale would put a dent in the Italian national
debt, and enable Sardinians to convert to the world’s most coveted currency. And
even though they don’t say this out loud, obviously, if Sardinia becomes part
of CH, their air
force could work shorter hours. All molto buono for them, but what’s in it for Switzerland? First of
all, at last we’d have our own Swiss beaches sprinkled with seashells and
gorgeous olive-skinned formerly Italian babes and boys splashing in a real
ocean full of calamari ready for the grill. Also, we could suddenly brag that
the heady, delicious Sardinian wines are “Swiss.” But the best reason for CH to buy
this idyllic Italian isle (where Mafia dons go mostly to molt, not to murder), is
that we could thumb our nose at the European Union. They think that just
because a miniscule majority of ill-informed Swiss voters recently decided in
favor of quotas on immigrants, that we’ll no longer have access to the many
thousands of cross-border workers who keep our economy well oiled every day.
Possibly true, but guess what EU, with Canton Sardinia joining Svizzera, we’ll
have a generous supply of eager, able, gorgeous workers – and calamari. Seriously, it’s a complicated
question we should consider carefully: Should Switzerland actually purchase
Sardinia? Maybe Mykonos would be a better buy.
We are seated at a long wood table beautifully scarred and burnished from many years of use. Contrasting with the old table, we have before us tiny plastic cups half-filled with olive oil. The oil is slightly greenish and holds a surprise we're about to discover.
"What do you taste?" asks Signore Gianluca Tumidei, proprietor of Tenuta Pennita, an olive oil (and wine) producer in Brisighella in Emilia-Romagna.
After our first sip of oil, a woman in our group starts coughing. No wonder. "It's spicy!" she says. She's right, spicy in a way I've never tasted before in olive oil.
We taste another of his oils made from a different type of olive. (There are 740 kinds of olive trees in Italy, says Signore.) It's a beautiful pale yellow-green, with a more blended taste. Signore suggests the taste of green tomato. Another oil tastes of artichoke, but citricy. We sip the oil straight from the tiny cups. Signore Tumidei is adamant that one should never try to taste the delicate nuances of a fine olive oil when it's drizzled on bread, any more than you would taste a fine wine this way.
There's an understated air of ritual as we taste, even from tiny plastic cups. (Professional olive oil tasters always drink from a blue glass so they can't see the color of the oil, which seems a shame.)
Signore Tumidei tells of the time when an olive oil producer in New Zealand sent him a gift of olive oil. He and friends spread the oil on bread. Other pieces of bread were drizzled with his own oil. Suddenly, everyone was called away with only the dogs left in the room. When they returned, all the bread with Italian oil was gone, but the bread with N.Z. olive oil was untouched by the dogs.
We go outside and take in the farm and countryside. Olive oil will never taste the same.
I'm Bill Harby, owner of Imagery Ink and Kipuka Cottage. I'm a writer, editor, photographer and publishing consultant who has left my long-time home in Hawai'i to join my bride in Switzerland. Just a teensy bit excited.
So I want to document some of my new life in words and pictures. This is ExpatCH.
I've written articles for and contributed photos to numerous Hawai‘i and national magazines, newspapers and websites. I also serve clients with public relations materials, web consulting, film scripts and other communications projects. You can see samples at www.billharby.com.
My Swiss Missus and I are also the proprietors of Kipuka Cottage on Hawai'i Island ("the Big Island"). It's a charming forest nest (if we do say so ourselves) just outside of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Visit us at www.kipukacottage.com.
I always love hearing from readers, so don't be shy if you have comments or questions about Switzerland or Hawai'i or the expat life.