There are countless ways Americans stand out abroad: the white tennis shoes, the shorts, the trail of fires we leave in our wake when cooking simple meals.
Italian newspaper La Nazione reported on Monday that three 20-year-old students abroad in Florence attempted what countless citizens of the world accomplish with ease every day: boiling pasta. The students, however, neglected to add any water, let alone boil it. They dropped a bunch of dry noodles in a pot. Which promptly caught fire.
The group called the fire department, which extinguished the fire (possibly with water?). The fire department took the whole thing in stride and insisted that they didn't know how to make pasta either. That seems unlikely, but it's a nice gesture.
The commenters on the Italian article were less generous: "Return to the USA to eat hamburgers & chips from [McDonald’s],” one said.
Taking the opportunity to teach the young women a valuable lesson about pasta making -- though probably a bad lesson about learning from one's mistakes -- Florentine chef Fabio Picchi stepped in to offer four hours of free cooking lessons at one of his restaurants.
“They will have lunch in our restaurant with two of my extraordinary cooks,” he said to La Nazione, as translated by Munchies. “They will teach them the simple basics that are very good if done well. I think this can be useful to them, but also to us. Understanding is what is beautiful and necessary.”
The lesson of this story might be to boil your pasta. It might also be that if you fail hard enough you'll receive world-class instruction. Do with it what you will.