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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mystery (Kinda) Solved

After my post Virginia Woolf Friday, one of the commenters (with the wonderfully evocative name of Buck Pennington, which sounds as if he should be quarterbacking Red Grange in the 1920's), asked what on earth a panettone was.

Well, before I tell you how the mystery of the 40-50 panettoni was solved, let me delve into the topic a bit further.

First off, this is a panettone.



And just like you can't avoid death and taxes, the modern corollary is, "or having a Wikipedia entry":


Panettone is a typical cake of Milan, Italy, usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas, and one of the symbols of the town.

It has a cupola shape and is usually about 30 cm high. It is made of a soft, incompletely-cooked dough containing candies and raisins.

Note, that in most Latin countries (in the true, not just American sense of the word, which seems to be synonymous here with simply, "Hispanic"), having panettone on Christmas day, is as traditional as our plum pudding is in Britain.

Having a wide selection of fruits, sultanas, and especially nuts, on the table alongside it, is also the done thing.

They all represent the cornucopia of plenty that the Three Wise Men brought the baby Jesus on his birthday.

When I was a child, I detested panettone, since its caramelised fruits, especially the little greenie ones, I got into my head tasted like liquorice, which to this day, makes me gag.

But such is life -- today, I love panettone. Children are very silly creatures, no?

So, back to our mystery.

I went to pick up a cake I had ordered at the self-same supermarket were the elegant-looking gentleman had bought dozens of panettoni at one go.

All kinds of scenarios had entered my mind since posting the anecdote.

- Was he late for an office Christmas party, and wanted a quick gift for his staff?

- Was he stocking up for his family for future Christmasses, since I have it on impeccable authority that a panettone loaf lasts 20 or 30 years, or indeed, more?

- Did he have a hot date with a hot date? Oh hush.

Well, as I waited for my cake to be readied (they got the name wrong on the icing, so I asked for and got a 50% discount...yay...I love beating the system), I saw the attendant that had helped that guy that day.

"This may seem an odd question, but I saw you help out a man with many Arco panettones the other day. I'm curious, what was that about, do you know?".

(laugh)

"Yeah, he was a Brazilian guy. The manager told me he called to put an order for ALL the panettones we had on sale. He was taking them to Brazil as presents or something."

No way.

This (non-) mystery gets odder and odder!

Why would a rich Brazilian tourist buy 40-50 panettoni in an US supermarket at 3 bucks a pop, if in his country, he can get them for half, if not a third of that price?? And possibly even yummier??

And there's no way he can pass them through customs, without bribing the custom officials...like all muambeiros do. That's a lot of dough for some dough (I said hush).

Side explanation: Muamba is the Brazilian Portuguese word for illegal goods brought into Brazil for very profittable resale. It was BIG business in most of South America, where buying a Panasonic or Sony DVD player, for example, cost the earth. These days, with a more free-market economy, I'm not so sure.

The only explanation I have is, he was asked by someone for REAL Italian but American-bought panettone, as a kind of reverse snobbism.

You know the kind -- where you go to France, and buy yourself some Crest toothpaste, just because you could.

What an odd business this.

One day, I'm going to get to the bottom of this story, you watch.

And then I'll bore you (some more) on my blog with the upshot.

18 Comments:

  • Awaiting the final chapter anxiously. You go, girl. Or, as another one spells it: grrrrrrrrrl.

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Sun Nov 20, 11:29:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Awaiting the final chapter anxiously.

    So am I. Even if I have to write it meself.

    You go, girl.

    Go Vicky, go Vicky!

    Or, as another one spells it: grrrrrrrrrl.

    D00d.

    Bad girl talking out-of-school like that.

    I like you.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 20, 11:47:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Oooh, I do love panettone. A friend of ours, living here, now but from Italy, has brought us some once or twice, and now I'll buy it when I see it.

    I'm intrigued, too ...


    And grrrrrrrrrrrr(l)--I'm trying to forget all about that playuh.

    Shudder.

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Mon Nov 21, 01:51:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I'm the only one in the family who really loves the original panettone. It's great for dunking in caffe latte at breakfast and is makes for nice snack. It doesn't take more than a day or two to finish one off.

    There is no gift that is regifted among Italian families around Christmas more than panettone. In fact I'm pretty sure that this man will get some of his panettone back before Christmas. Maybe he's secretly trying to calculate the percentage of regifted panettone.;)

    By Blogger Renato, at Mon Nov 21, 03:21:00 pm GMT-5  

  • But Vic, the real question posed by all this:

    Do you like spotted dick?

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon Nov 21, 04:11:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This post made me hungry! My mother made the best "panetela y cafe con leche"!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Mon Nov 21, 07:54:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I've had panettone. It's alright. For me it's nothing too special.

    Now, make me some crunchy fried scrapple, scramble eggs, hot coffee and a nice Christmas Stollen for Christmas morning, and NOW you're talking!

    By Anonymous benning, at Mon Nov 21, 08:39:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Oooh, I do love panettone. A friend of ours, living here, now but from Italy, has brought us some once or twice, and now I'll buy it when I see it.

    Since I've always lived in "cosmopolitan" areas, I've never done without panettone at Christmas.

    But tell me, is it easy(ish) to get where you are? How about other places in the US, that you know of?

    And grrrrrrrrrrrr(l)--I'm trying to forget all about that playuh.

    Shudder.


    Eww. What a loon that grrrrrrrrrl is.

    I hover suspended between intrigue and disgust.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 21, 09:38:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I'm the only one in the family who really loves the original panettone.

    Yay! You'll get along just fine with my dad and me.

    You might have to dodge my mother's love of leberwurst though...

    It's great for dunking in caffe latte at breakfast and is makes for nice snack. It doesn't take more than a day or two to finish one off.

    That's exactly what I do -- dunk it in cafe au lait (as we Brits call it ;).

    There is no gift that is regifted among Italian families around Christmas more than panettone. In fact I'm pretty sure that this man will get some of his panettone back before Christmas. Maybe he's secretly trying to calculate the percentage of regifted panettone.;)

    That is VERY true.

    Every Christmas, we get a haul of 10-12 panettoni from my dad's patients. And we give them to our condo porters downstairs.

    (Well that, and a bottle of champagne and money -- we know if we don't, our tyres will be slashed Christmas morning ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 21, 09:41:00 pm GMT-5  

  • But Vic, the real question posed by all this:

    Do you like spotted dick?


    Why yes, yes I do, JSU.

    I loves me some spotted dick. I could eat it for HOURS.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 21, 09:43:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This post made me hungry!

    Success! I always make you hungry, Jose. :)

    You should re-read my panettone post and the Abuelita post on an empty stomach.

    My mother made the best "panetela y cafe con leche"!

    Otro que le gusta cafe con leche, yay.

    Cafe con leche (cortadito especially) RULEZ!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 21, 09:49:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I've had panettone. It's alright. For me it's nothing too special.

    That's how I was at the beginning, Benning.

    But I guess if you haven't changed your mind about it by NOW, you might just never like panettone that much. :)

    Now, make me some crunchy fried scrapple, scramble eggs, hot coffee and a nice Christmas Stollen for Christmas morning, and NOW you're talking!

    Wow. Now I know what people mean when they say, I don't understand a word you say!

    Scrapple? Stollen?

    Watch. They're traditional fare from either from Ohio, Pennsylvania or Minnesota.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Nov 21, 09:52:00 pm GMT-5  

  • It wasn't so easy when we first moved here a decade ago, but now you see it here and there. The "city" in which I love is actually part of a quad of "cities" straddling the mighty Miss, so when you count all four and what's considered their metro areas, you're nudging around the 375,00 mark.

    Previously, we lived in northern Delaware, the "largest" city of which had an acknowledged "Little Italy," and the whole area, of course, is just a quick hop, skip and jump from Philly. No problems there! In addition to all the resources generally in South Philly and elsewhere, there is great jewel of a market--one you should consider visiting if you're ever in that neck of the woods.

    Slightly OT, but related, if you ever do go to Ben's fair city, this market is also fun.

    Way OT: I sent you an e-mail earlier (to the address listed in your profile), but my mail server's been a bit hinky today. I hope you got it!

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Mon Nov 21, 10:17:00 pm GMT-5  

  • That "love" should be "live" of course --I mean, it sort of works both ways, but how very weirdly personal the former makes the sentence seem. Maybe it's the proximity to the word "straddling"? Especially when I abbreviated Mississippi in the way I did?

    Damn.

    Anyway.

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Mon Nov 21, 10:41:00 pm GMT-5  

  • It wasn't so easy when we first moved here a decade ago, but now you see it here and there. The "city" in which I love is actually part of a quad of "cities" straddling the mighty Miss, so when you count all four and what's considered their metro areas, you're nudging around the 375,00 mark.

    That is actually a fair-sized number of people, for non-Americans. :)

    Previously, we lived in northern Delaware, the "largest" city of which had an acknowledged "Little Italy,"

    I think I saw that! On a A&E "City Confidential" special about Delaware -- about two families, one Italian, one Irish, who were involved in a murder together.

    Seemed very mignon.

    and the whole area, of course, is just a quick hop, skip and jump from Philly. No problems there! In addition to all the resources generally in South Philly and elsewhere, there is great jewel of a market--one you should consider visiting if you're ever in that neck of the woods.

    Heh. Look at this from the Italian market page.

    Carl -- not a very Italian name. :)

    Slightly OT, but related, if you ever do go to Ben's fair city, this market is also fun.

    Hey, I've been to Philly sure.

    I even went to the famous Philly walk-up diner to get the famed cheesesteak...Dave's? Phil's? Bah, I forget.

    It's obviously very famous though. *g*

    Way OT: I sent you an e-mail earlier (to the address listed in your profile), but my mail server's been a bit hinky today. I hope you got it!

    Well, Reader_Iam, I don't think so.

    HOWEVER! I haven't really checked my email (victoriaspursqueen) today.

    On that note, allow to explain to my readers about my emails.

    Until recently, I had a backlog of emails in my INBOX -- procrastination, and all that, upped the amount to over 5000.

    And like a House of Filth, you get overwhelmed and do nothing. ;)

    So I just mostly dumped the lot, sight unseed/unread.

    Please please forgive me if you had written before.

    I promise to be a better correpondent in future, and to that end, with my new Nokia, I have a POP account ready programme, which allows me to read email even when I'm not near my computer.


    However, try sending it to the SundriesTips one, so just in case, it doesn't get clogged with the spammier victoriaspursqueen. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 22, 12:21:00 am GMT-5  

  • That "love" should be "live" of course --I mean, it sort of works both ways, but how very weirdly personal the former makes the sentence seem. Maybe it's the proximity to the word "straddling"? Especially when I abbreviated Mississippi in the way I did?

    Damn.

    Anyway.


    Seems I'm not the only one with spotted dick on my mind.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 22, 12:22:00 am GMT-5  

  • Ah yes, the Fahey-Capano case.

    The State of Delaware is a VERY small town, Victoria.

    Over the years(prior to the murder, by which time we had relocated here), I met a significant number of the principles in that case. (Not the victim, though--although I used to hang at the bar where her sister was a bartender and a lot of the people connected in one way or another to the case had lifted an elbow or two ). The murderer was, I believe, a client of one of my ex-bosses a couple of decades ago--anyway, I know I met him at the time through that connection.

    Delaware's one of those places where it's exceptionally easy to personally meet one's politicians and other various public types. You can't help it really. Makes watching C-Span, say, especially entertaining when following the types of hearings that inspire copious amounts of bloviating. If you get my drift.

    P.S. I see you found my e-mail ...

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Tue Nov 22, 08:18:00 am GMT-5  

  • Ah yes, the Fahey-Capano case.

    That's the ticket!

    The State of Delaware is a VERY small town, Victoria.

    So I gathered. But very family-oriented, by the looks of it, and well, I like that.

    Encouraging a wholesome family atmosphere comes tops with me.

    Over the years(prior to the murder, by which time we had relocated here), I met a significant number of the principles in that case.

    Will you look at that. I don't think I've ever met any principles in a murder case, outside of that time I went into the wrong courtroom after my speeding ticket hearing. ;)

    (Not the victim, though--although I used to hang at the bar where her sister was a bartender and a lot of the people connected in one way or another to the case had lifted an elbow or two ).

    Yes, they showed the lady publican of that place. Very Irish.

    Delaware's one of those places where it's exceptionally easy to personally meet one's politicians and other various public types.

    Isn't that the case with most places in the US though?

    Even a big city like Miami (or what we think of as South Florida), I often dined next to the Miami Beach mayor, knew the aunt of the ex-Miami Dade County mayor, Alex Penelas, and was invited to a picnic at his house, and met Ileana Ros-Lehtinen more times than I can tell you.

    Even old Bob Graham, famed long-time Senator, is to be found walking along downtown Miami, near the Courthouse where he has his office, for lunch at times.

    I dunno. I always thought US pols were much more approachable than any other ones (with the exception of ours in the UK, but that's another story).

    You can't help it really. Makes watching C-Span, say, especially entertaining when following the types of hearings that inspire copious amounts of bloviating. If you get my drift.

    Ohhh yes. ;)

    P.S. I see you found my e-mail ...

    Yessum. And I hope you got my email reply? ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 22, 07:20:00 pm GMT-5  

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