Italy: Bring Your Own Oats

A Volta Monument

Cristiano, Raffa and her family were very gracious hosts again this year for my pilgrimage to Italia. I was able to spend two nights with them in their palatial Como home. In exchange for hospitality, I needed to bake my Mom's Ultimate Cookies for Raffa's mom.

"No sweat. I got this," I thought. "I've made those cookies twice before in Italia."

That was all true buscept the part where I forgot (as did Raffa) where we got all the ingredients for the previous batches of biscotti. The most difficult ingredient to find last time was oats (aveno); this year was no exception. We scoured the grocery store and pestered her mom and friends, but Raffa and I couldn't find any aveno.

So, we did what everyone in a crisis should do. We ate a big lunch and then she went to the dentist so I went walkabout.

My GPS got me back to the car on time but Raffa wasn't back yet. Had she been back, I wouldn't have wandered away from the car and run smack dab into a health food store.

That right - A HEALTH FOOD STORE IN ITALY! That's about as ironic as "a free ride when you've already paid." We're talking about a country that is barren of veggies unless you count mozzarella and the tomatoes in your insalata caprese.

I'm sure the lady had never seen an Americano so excited to buy a kilo of oats. Clearly she didn't understand the pressure I was under to deliver the dolce vita to Raffa's house.

That lady's aveno saved the day, but securing the ingredients turned out to be the easy part since the recipe is in cups and everything - EVERYTHING - is measured in grams.

Anyone got any idea how many grams of broken up chocolate Easter egg equates to one cup of semi-sweet morsels? It's 250.

And another thing. I understood why I got weird looks when I asked the grocer where the oats were. However, there is no plausible explanation as to why Raffa and everyone in her house looked at me like I was daft when I asked for a glass of cold milk. Cold milk and chocolate chip cookies go together like Peaches & Herb, Ebony & Ivory, bacon & bacon...

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