I walked into the pizzeria and asked to look at the menu. Quickly scanning the ingredients, I rejected each pizza as soon as I recognised a word that translated to a type of meat. “Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope … maybe?” It was only my second week of living in Italy; I’d studied Italian for seven months and learnt a bunch of words but not all the words and there are just so many words.
Verdure – green – that sounds vego-friendly? Most of the ingredients seemed OK except this one: peperoni. I mean… that’s straight up meat. I glanced up uncertainly at the cameriere.
“Verdure”, I pointed at the menu, “é vegetariano?”
“Sí”, he replied.
“Ma… peperoni? É carne.”
He looked confused and said something to me I didn’t understand.
“Io non mangio carne. Le Verdure é vegetariano ma peperoni é carne. Non mangio carne.”
(Pepperoni is meat. I don’t eat meat.)
He seemed impatient and muttered something else. Never piss off your chef, I thought, or they’ll spit in your food. I reluctantly ordered the Verdure.
When it came out, I stared at the Verdure pizza. It looked fine. Pulling open the menu, I mentally drew lines connecting each word to a topping until there was only one topping left. And then… it clicked: capsicum. Peperoni was capsicum. Like Peppers. Peperoni. Capsicum. I looked up and grinned at the cameriere who had already turned away, glad to be done with this troublesome customer.