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Food Wine Italian Riviera: mailing sea biscuits

At our local post office in San Rocco this morning we arrived with a box of sea biscuits to send to a friend in New Jersey. He’s become an addict. We were intending to wrap the box in packing paper before mailing it, but the friendly woman running the tiny, one-window post office told us that wrapping boxes and sealing them with lead “piombini” was no longer necessary. It used to be Italian law, a total nightmare.
“Oh, we’ve evolved,” she said cheefully. And then she spent about 20 minutes carefully taping up our tattered, secondhand box, making sure to leave room for the address. We told her the box was full of gallette from the Maccarini bakery. She said, “You don’t have to tell me what’s in the box!”
But we figured, what the hell, with the fear factor, which seems to be the rule everywhere else in the world, we were better off revealing the contents. A pair of locals, waiting their turn, insisted they weren’t in a hurry. Together we watched the post master tape up our box, and we all talked about sea biscuits, the snowy weather, recipes, terrorism, and fear.
“New Jersey?” exclaimed the post master, noticing the address for the first time. “People eat our biscuits in America?”
I confirmed they did, and told her and everyone else in the post office—there was a crowd by now—about the sea biscuit in the Seicento painting in Haarlem, and how we sent a bag of biscuits to the museum’s director. Each and every customer from San Rocco beamed with pride.

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