Sunday, May 20


Sunday afternoon. 5.30 pm.

The sun was shining and the sky was a deep blue. There was a slight breeze in the air that made Skye shiver as she ran out the sea and flopped onto a towel. Carlo hoisted his canoe out of the water, onto his shoulder and took it up the beach. A stream of tourists walked past me, shopping bags in hand as they disembarked off the ferry from Capri.

I sighed and tried to concentrate on the text I was trying to translate. What was an ambone? It wasn’t in the dictionary, nobody that I had asked had ever heard of one and it wasn’t in wikipedia. Was it a spelling mistake? The other day I lost half an hour searching for a word that didn’t exist.

I have taken on a little job translating a newspaper in Ravello. They email me the articles to be translated, often at the last minute, and I try to make some sense of the extravagant flowery Italian literature and turn it into readable English. I have never been one to concentrate well in a silent room, so have taken to sitting on the edge of the pier with my laptop and a mug of tea by my side.

It might look strange, sitting on a beach, tapping away on a computer, mug of steaming tea in hand, batting away Bella the Shetland pony sized dog, who nuzzles into my neck while I try to concentrate on historical facts and art exhibitions. But I rest assured that many of the people that pass by are so involved in themselves and their next destination that they more often than not don’t look around to take in their surroundings.

Later as we walk home I have a sudden desire to eat ice cream the Italian way, smothered in whipped cream. I used to turn my nose up at the idea of cream on ice cream, but once I tried it I was hooked. I bought a little carton of whipping cream in the Deli and once home whipped it up into soft peaks that begged to be scooped up with a finger. I dropped an egg into a saucepan and a piece of toast under the grill, deciding that eggy soldiers were the quickest thing to make for a ravenous four year old. And to keep her quiet while she waited I gave her the whisk to lick.

Finally I scooped out some ice cream and covered it with a huge dollop of cream. I sat down to enjoy it as Carlo wandered into the kitchen and dipped a finger in the cream.
“Bleugh!” He pulled a face and looked at me as if I was mad.
“ You didn’t put any sugar in it!”
“No, why would I ? It’s cream, it doesn’t need sugar,” I replied, thinking ‘here we go again…’

“But of course you need cream in sugar. It doesn’t taste of anything without sugar!”
“It does, it tastes of cream!”
“Cream always needs sugar. Like pasta needs salt and salad needs salt.”
“You know that salad doesn’t really need salt, it’s just a habit.”
“Hmphh, you did it on purpose didn’t you? No sugar in the cream so that I wouldn’t eat it and you can have it all…pig.”

Now, would I do a thing like that?


  1. I'm with Carlo. Cream without sugar is --- yuck. The sugar brings out the flavors in the cream, plus sugar in itself is good, and - no, I simply can't eat unsugared cream. Ew.

    I'm not really a cream-lover though, which might be why I need to disguise it.

  2. When I googled ambone, a Wiki link came up in Italian. I hit translate and it gave an explanation which I think has to do with a pulpit in a church. Does this make sense? Many moons ago I was a Latin and French major, so it piqued my interest. Language is like solving a puzzle!

  3. Sitting on the pier with your laptop and cuppa tea sounds perfect to me! I'm a translator and always work better in the open air, ususally on my balcony! Although I'm sure my view isn't as wonderful as yours! Enjoy the translating, maybe it will herald the start of a new career!

  4. Interestingly, I've never seen the Italians around here putting cream on ice cream; of course my OH is averse to all milky products, so I'd be free to eat all the cream (probably with sugar, sorry) myself. Actually I'd be more likely to do this in America, in a sundae--to be eaten any day of the week! ;)

    I hate misspelled words in to-be-translated material. I've lost a lot of time on this as well, but I'm hoping that I'm getting better at spotting them. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

    Congrats on the new lavoro!

  5. yeah i thought only the italians have these crazy cooking "rules" but apparently the dutch also have them... or maybe its not a culture thing but just a "man thing" to always try to tell you what to do!!

  6. know what the first rule of translating is? If you can't find the word in 2 minutes - leave it out!
    P.S. I'm with you on the cream with sugar think - yuck!

  7. congrat on the new job.

    Sorry I'm with Carlo on this one. :)

  8. Babylon Italian-English
    ambone (m)

    n. ambo, raised desk from which the Bible was read, pulpit (in early Christian churches)

  9. When I moved to Rome and tasted the unsweetened whipped cream they put on top of gelato, it took a little getting used to. In the U.S. they do sweeten whipped cream. But then I grew to love it, especially the bits that froze to the much colder gelato.

  10. Salt on salad?????


    Then again, I never add salt to anything.


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