I was in Torino, Italy at a Chinese restaurant when I took a sip of asparagus soup. My eyes closed and my head hit the table.
An old Chinese man came running over to the table waving his hands speaking loudly in Mandarin. I did not know what he was saying but I knew he was concerned about my well being. He spoke neither English or Italian. So he called his son over.
“My dad wants to know if you are OK,” the son said. “Is the food bad?”
The old man owned this Chinese restaurant off an alley in downtown Torino.
“Tell your dad that I am OK and that this food is great,” I told the son. “I am just having a moment because it is so good.”
It was the third time I had great Chinese food in Italy. Someone explained to me that a bunch of people from China settled in different parts of Italy and opened up restaurants with food that momma prepared at home.
People look at me as if I am growing a third arm when I tell them a Chinese restaurant is a must stop if they travel to Italy. I was in Italy for the 2006 Winter Olympic games with former broadcast partner Mike Valenti. NBC flew a bunch of American radio shows to the games and set us up in their massive broadcast center.
Mike rolled his eyes when I told him we should hit a Chinese restaurant while in Italy. Mike, who is Italian, was in the motherland and had no interest in Chinese food.
“We are not having Chinese food in Italy,” he said. “That’s ridiculous.”
One day we went downtown together and we were both hungry for lunch. We were near my Chinese food restaurant and I told him we should try it.
“Hell no,” he said.
I can be a pain in the ass. I did not let up. I told him we should step outside the norm and go in. I asked that we order an appetizer. If he did not like it then we could leave in search of pizza and pasta. He reluctantly gave in.
I recommended the asparagus soup. The man and his son were there and recognized me from my last visit. I told them I brought a friend.
Mike ordered the soup, took one sip, and got a glassy-eyed look before closing his eyes. I didn’t know if he took a sip of soup or a puff of weed. Was having a moment like I had or was going to spit it out? There was a moment of silence. He called the son and owner over and began ordering entrees off the menu — about eight total.
I told him we could not eat all this food. But we did. It was that good.
The first time I had Chinese food in Italy was in Florence overlooking a church court yard drowned in a spotlight. I took a flyer on Chinese in Rome. Both times the food was close your eyes delicious.
So if you go to Italy visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, hit the ruins in Rome. And don’t forget Chinese for lunch.
It was that good.
Even Mikey liked it.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: