My first boyfriend in Milan spoke impeccable English, refused to eat fruits or vegetables, and though he was a rare specimen of Italian man that did not live with his mother, he never went out. I know that in the US staying in and binge-watch Netflix is an acceptable lifestyle, but in Italy it's pretty weird. Unfortunately, it's one of those quirky habits I didn't realize until we'd been dating for like a month.
I was in Milan to teach English, halfway into a five-month internship that paid 500 euro a month. Despite the meager paycheck, I wanted to experience all that Italy had to offer (Read: the food. I wanted all of the food.) and I had yet to have dinner at a restaurant. Italian Boyfriend was the kind of person who did not understand why someone would go out for gelato when you could buy a carton of it at the grocery store for the same price, but eventually he saw that I was losing interest due to aforementioned hermitude, and offered to take me out. He chose a Sicilian restaurant, which I was super excited about because I'd heard they had excellent desserts (unlike the rest of Italy but that's a story for another time).
We go to the restaurant, and it's very nice, and I open to menu to find that Sicilian food is almost 100% seafood, which I do not like. Now, I understand that will cause me to lose some friends or maybe some respect as a food writer but seriously, the ocean is full of either sea snot or giant, strangely crunchy insects drowned in butter to hide their true flavors. Except crab. Crab is delicious.
So I'm looking at this menu trying to find something - anything - that will be a form of seafood that I can tolerate, when the waiter comes over. He says that the special of the evening is "Linguine all'astice," a word I do not know. I ask Italian Boyfriend and he says astice is a fish. Promising! Pasta! I love pasta! Fish! Fish are filled with fish glop (official biological term) but I can like fish. The waiter comes back and I order linguine all'astice, and Italian Boyfriend does too. "Excellent choice," the waiter says, "L'astice ancora camina" (The astice is still walking). Oh! I think. What a cute way to say that the fish is very fresh! I am very pleased with myself for picking up on this subtlety of the Italian language.
Italian Boyfriend and I are continuing on whatever conversation a doomed relationship has, when the waiter comes from behind me and, with a flourish, places a plate of pasta in front of me with a giant dead insect on it, its creepy little legs and eye stalks just dangling there. Even better: the giant dead insect is split in half so I can see all of its cooked insides artfully poofing out. Of course, at this point I realize that astice is lobster and that not only have a) I ordered something I do not like, but b) I have ordered a very expensive thing that I do not like c) I have no escape since Italian Boyfriend ordered the same dish.
I am not allergic to giant insects or anything so I trudge through, eating the pasta and occasional chunks of giant insect (to be fair, the giant insect did not taste terrible despite it being a former prison food, but I still didn't like it). Italian boyfriend is happily eating like I would ever kiss an mouth that ate eyestalks again. Afterwards we get cannoli, which almost makes everything better.
We have taken five steps outside the restaurant when I turn to my boyfriend and demand an explanation for calling astice a fish when it is so clearly not a fish.
His response: "It lives in the ocean! It's a fish!"
My response: "IT'S A FUCKING CRUSTACEAN." (Side note: the Italian word for crustacean is crostaceo so this really isn't a translation problem.)
We broke up shortly after.