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The Best Pig in the World, part I

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June 21, 2013 by Dan

Remember our pals Grant and Ellen from Japan? If you don’t, you should. If you need a primer, go here. We were Internetting back and forth in February and March – Ellen was hoping to come out to California to visit an uncle, and we would get to hang out a bit. That didn’t work out, and set off the following chain of communication (paraphrases):

Us: Bummer. But we’re going to Italy in May and June for a wedding, you should totally just hop over, because it’s pretty much on the same continent as you!
Ellen: Done! What weekend?
Us: Pausing. You guys are awesome.

They flew to Italy a day late after the plane problems, rented a car, and picked us up in cold, rainy Parma on a Saturday evening. We had a joyous, hug-filled reunion, then made our way to the town of Salsamaggiore, where we were staying at the Antica Torre, an incredible place to stay. We were met by the wonderful host, who showed us the little apartment where we would be staying for two nights. We immediately got down to business:

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Wait…what’s that in the lower left corner?

That’s right. Cheese and cured meat from Parma. Say what you will about the place, but the delis are choice. After our snack of cheese and meat, we retired to the dining room for…more of the same.

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I do not physically possess the words to write about how good the aged parmesan was. It was salty and crunchy, and sweet and wonderful. Then, they gave us a ham course.

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Again. Words fail. Up to that point of my life, this was the best cured ham I had had. End of story. Of course, after that, they served lasagna, which was so good I forgot to take a photo, then wine, then some snacks, then dessert.

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See how spongey it is? They took all of the best Italian dessert flavors that have ever existed, and put it in this little cake. I was blown away.

We stayed up late talking, and the best thing about talking and staying up late was perhaps that we were so comfortable. There is something so wonderful about new friends, and confirming that your new friends are, indeed, your friends. We drank too much grappa and ate even more cheese and eventually went to sleep.

And woke up to a day that looked like this. Oh, it was going to be on.

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