Cinco De Mayo, Genovese Style

May 7, 2019

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Cinco De Mayo, the Fifth of May, is a Mexican Holiday beloved by Americans. It means Mexican food and Tequila with our friends, especially our Mexican-American Friends. I miss that excuse to drink Margaritas and eat tortillas. And I miss the chips with salsa and guacamole.

But not this year! My friend Tom Torriglia who lives in Genoa and administers the EXPATS IN GENOA group on Facebook. His usually has a monthly meet-up for drinks and aperitivi. His good friend, Sandy, suggested the idea of a Cinco De Mayo dinner this month instead. Tom knew just the place.

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Centro Storico, Genova

01 24 69 527

VERACRUZ is owned and run by the mother/daughter team of Fabiana Cicogna and Monica Montano. Fabiana was born in Mexico and moved to Genoa before Monica was born. They serve very authentic food from their region of Mexico. And prices are reasonable too.

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This was my second visit to Veracruz.  I must admit that I LOVE the chips and guacamole.

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And my margaritas. I don’t miss many food types from the USA, but I miss Mexican food. You can get it everywhere, even in freezing Minnesota. Some is better than others. But it is everywhere.  Here in Italy, it is scarce. There is one Mexican restaurant in Chiavari, but the reviews are only fair. This place feels Mexican, authentic Mexican.

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I enjoyed simple bean soft tacos—with corn tacos that tasted better than any I have had in the States.

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Tom had a mole dish.

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Above are unusual chicken tacos and, of course, margaritas for everyone.

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There were about a dozen of us and fun was had by all.  I sat next to a woman from New Zealand who was born in Germany.  Across from her was a Brit by birth who had lived all over. We also had 5 dual Italian/American citizens and 3 local Gevovesi. I enjoyed meeting other transplants to Italy and, for once, speaking English most of the time.

In fact, we were speaking so much English, a woman stopped by just to chat. She was from Minneapolis.

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She has been teaching English at the international school and was also enjoying the sound of English, especially American. When I shared my MN origins, we compared notes on where were lived. Suddenly she said, “fer sure!”  And I grinned. I haven’t ever heard that Minnesotan expression here in Italy. We then began speaking Minnesotan, “don’t cha know. Ya, sure you betcha.”. I had to explain the phrase “hot dish” to everyone at the table.  (For non-Minnesotans, it is a baked casserole.) There are so many Minnesota colloquialisms that you can buy a book about it. It definitely lightened up our conversation for a bit.

We were in Genova, Genoa as we say it. We were enjoying a foreign food, Mexican food, that we Americans took for granted growing up in the States. It felt natural. We were in a little piece of nostalgia, a piece of a place I had visited in Mexico, in a place many of us had been in the States. It was a moment’s reprieve from Italy. But when we walked out the door, we were still in La Superba, Genova.

It was almost culture shock walking out and seeing this.

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It was time to say Adios! And return to Italy.

And the gorgeous part of Italy that is Genova.

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Piazza Ferrara where we walked to catch the bus to the train.

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Up carruggi, narrow cobblestone streets, like this one above.

We missed our bus and decided to walk down to the station.

We said Ciao Ciao to Garibaldi

and the ballet,

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Past beautiful buildings,

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And through this gorgeous, black and white marble portico.

We took the slow train home resting and sharing stories of the night.

I arrived back in my apartment in Chiavari around midnight and back into my Italian world. Still, I am going to try to make my own corn tortillas and try to find black beans. I can buy Tequila here and can even get a Margarita by the sea at one place I have visited. I can make guacamole too. But the camaraderie of the dinner and the feel of being in Mexico on Cinco De Mayo, well, I will need help and more people to do that.

If you are enjoying the beauty of Italy and heading to Genova, the VERACRUZ is worth a visit. If you aren’t planning on visiting Genova, perhaps you should reconsider. It isn’t called La Superba, The Superb One, for nothing.

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Adios! Ciao Ciao! See ya later! Fer sure!

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