January 4, 2006

Downtown Houston

Posted in Iramville at 11:25 am by Iram

I went out to eat yesterday at a wonderful little Italian restaurant in downtown Houston. I can’t quite remember the name of it, but it is right across the street from Jones Hall, and if anybody is in the area I would definitely recommend it. The food was delicious, and the atmosphere is cozy. Since we were the only people in the restaurant when we got there, the owner was free to speak with us and we got quite the story out of him. The guy, Vittorio, left home in Italy when he was 14. After travelling around the country for a few years, he joined the Italian navy with hopes of “seeing the world”. From his account, that didn’t exactly happen, although he had a great from of Basera in Iraq when he was stationed there until a missile sunk his ship and he was sent back home to Italy after waiting in the water for three days to be picked up by a rescue team.

After that experience, he began to work for cigarette smugglers in Italy, in what I think was an awesome job. Basically, there were a bunch of little blue boats in the same area, and only one of them had the illegal goods aboard. So whenever the polic came around, Vittorio’s job was to drive his little blue boat around with all of the other little blue boats so that the police would get confused and wouldn’t be able to see which of the little blue boats was carrying the illegal goods. Eventually, though, high gasoline prices put this little operation out of business, and Vittorio came to America and never went back. Somehow, he ended up in Houston, and has run this restaurant for the past fifteen years. The man is a great guy to talk to, and he specializes in an off-the-menu menu (there were five people at our table, and nobody ordered off the menu).

The only sad thing about the whole experience is that downtown Houston is so dead. There are all of these incredible little places like the one I went to, but as you sit by the window eating your meal and looking outside, all you see is a ghostown. No people, no cars, not even homeless guys pushing their shopping carts down the street. It’s as if somebody pushed a button and zapped everybody into oblivion and somehow you survived and are the last person left.

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