European Diary

A Little Education

Wife’s away, and so, as befits children and bachelors, I sit at the breakfast table reading labels.  Here in Europe, labels are quite entertaining for someone with a semantic cast of mind, as many are printed in all the languages of the Community states, plus a few odd ones, just in case some of these member states go broke and are only allowed tinned spam from British Army supplies.  If you want to learn to say “polyunsaturated fats” in Albanian, or “traces of nuts” in Greek, have your wife go visit her mother and get cracking on them labels.

This morning I had something of an epiphany.  I was reading the label of an Italian mineral water originating from a Sicilian spring at Santa Maria Zappulla, near the town of Modica in the province of Ragusa, marketed primarily here on the island.  I should’ve known, as James Bond murmurs in one of the films after a villain orders red wine with fish, when I saw that the name on the label slyly changed from honest “Zappulla” to the more euphonious “Roverella,” but I read on.  The Sicilian oranges, now in season, of which my breakfast is composed, take time to peel.

The label had all the usual mineral-water stuff on it, like chemical and, hell, why stop at chemical, chemo-physical analysis.  This, by the way, from the Department of Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Catania, which is...

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