Today I wanted to talk about my time spent in Naples. Now, this may come as a surprise to no one except me but Naples is generally not considered a safe city. I found this out once I told Joni we were headed there, and she regaled me with tales of caution from her accountant, who insisted that Naples is one of the worst places in Italy.
Somehow, we managed to avoid getting robbed, harassed, hustled, or even hollered at, and had a wonderful time while we were there.
We spent our first day on a food tour, which took us through the streets of the city. Now, after reading the generally positive reviews of this tour, I felt pretty good about it. Everyone had really positive things to say, right?
It started out innocently enough, with our guide taking us to a coffee shop to enjoy Cafe’ Napoletano (espresso with whipped sugar and coffee), and then to enjoy some fresh Napoletano sweets. Delicious, and not at all a foreshadowing for what was to come.
You see, as our guide explained to us, Naples used to be a poor town, full of army folks and prostitution. These people just couldn’t afford to eat. So poor, so starving, so sad, etc etc.
Instead, they turned to the kinds of food others wouldn’t eat. Ya know, things like stomach. And hoof. And cheek. This, they boiled until all the fat melted off and it became somewhat chewable. Then, they doused it in salt and lemon and choked it down, a tradition which they continue to this day.
You see where this is going, right?
I’m just going to pause right here and tell you that I wasn’t even going to eat this stuff, until Joni looked me squarely in the eye and declared “I’ll eat it if you will.” And guys, I can’t back down from a challenge. So we did.
We “enjoyed” cow udder, intestine, hoof, cheek, and stomach. It was…interesting.
I think my favorite part had to be when Joni attempted to chew her hoof. You see, a hoof is all cartilage, right? And whenever you chew cartilage, it doesn’t really break down. It just turns into smaller and smaller bits of cartilage. So, after a few minutes, Joni was still sitting there with a mouthful of hoof and looking increasingly queasy. I took the coward’s route and nearly swallowed it whole.
My second favorite part would have to be the hair still attached to the cow cheek, which my guide assured me was sanitary because ‘it was all boiled anyway.’
We finished up the tour with fried pizza and seafood, which I turned down because I may eat cow hoof, but I draw the line at shrimp, dammit.
More about our adventures tomorrow.
-Carissa “Cow Foot” Rawson