Author Archives: Rick Bailey

About Rick Bailey

Rick Bailey grew up in Freeland, Michigan, on the banks of the Tittabawassee River. He taught writing for 38 years at Henry Ford College. A Midwesterner long married to an Italian immigrant, he has learned the language and food of Italy, traveled around the country, and, in the process, he has been (partly) made over–italianizato. In retirement Rick and his wife divide their time between Michigan and the Republic of San Marino.

About the Parsley

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The parsley war continues.

My wife and I disagree.  The question is not whether to use it. We’re both parsley positive. The issue is when, during cooking or added afterward as a garnish.  I’m during, she’s after.

It has not always been thus. For many years we lived in perfect harmony, parsley-wise. Diced parsley was one of those first-things-first things, like diced or chopped onion-celery-carrot. Then one day a chef friend came to dinner.  We must have had something long-cook on the stove, like a braised meat. He raised the lid and lowered his face to the pan. “Always add parsley near the end,” he said. “Cooked, parsley is bitter.” It was a pronouncement. He confirmed what my wife must have always sensed. He named it. And that was that. Continue reading

Also Minerva

scribble

The phone rings at 7:00 a.m. That’s never good.  I make an educated guess.

“Dad?”

“Tom.”  My brother.

They say she’s had a stroke, he tells me. It happened sometime after she went to bed last night. She’s breathing but that’s about it. “She probably can’t swallow,” he says. “There’s not much to be done for her.”  Our mother. Ninety-two years old.

“Dad?”

“He’s coming here first.  We’re going over there together.” Continue reading

Give Us This Day Our Daily Breadcrumbs

zucchini raw

A friend asked once: “Are you one of those people who makes his own breadcrumbs?”

No, I’m not.

I had just pulled a sheet of roasted tomatoes out of the oven. Topped with seasoned breadcrumbs, they perfumed the house, then ravished the palate. Continue reading

Give Us This Day Our Daily Dirt

germs

The doctor writes down what I might have: an occult bacterial infection.

I’ve presented with vague symptoms–not fever, not chills, not headache; not blurred vision or runny nose or scratchy throat or ear ache or rash or suddenly flat feet.  Just a kind of malaise that, if I’m unlucky, might transition to one of the above symptoms. I’m going out of town. If that transition happens a few days from now, I’ll be in a world of hurt.

I get pills to take, two a day, fourteen days.

“What’s occult?” I ask, feeling a slight shiver of excitement. Continue reading

Device-ification Now

creative E-learning Concept Book and Laptop 3d render

This morning I reset my Kindle to address a memory issue. I went nuclear and used the factory reset option. That erases everything on the device.

I like the idea of full erase. To me, wide-open unused space is desirable, especially on a hard drive.  Maybe it’s an American thing–the lure of the open range and the West. It also appeals to the minimalist in me. My sock drawer is more than half empty. I like it that way. How many pairs of socks do I need? On the other hand, erasing books? Think about your bookshelves. Ours groan under the weight of the books we read last year, and the year before, and the year before that, going way back in time. Your books form you, become a part of you. Picture those shelves completely empty. A little dust, a few stray bookmarks and receipts. Nothing else. It’s like mind erase. I’ve seen dementia. It looks like that. Continue reading

A Celebration Lunch

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Serravalle, Republic of San Marino

For celebration lunch today we have Greektown of Detroit, Barbuto of New York, and Howdy Richards of Freeland to thank.

What are we celebrating? Being alive. Being together.   Continue reading

Chics and Tuna

chics and tuna

One of my fondest memories is having lunch at the Buca del Orafo in Florence. My wife took me there the first time–in 1978.  We had a Fiorentina, the giant Italian t-bone steak, which was awesome.

In subsequent visits, we’ve skipped the steak and enjoyed the shaved artichoke and pecorino antipasto, pasta with fresh peas, or ribolitta, finishing, if they were in season, with the fragoline, the mountain strawberries served with lemon juice and sugar, tiny flavor bombs that would put you over the top.

Every year we were greeted by the same waiter, Piero, who was quiet and genial and attentive. Maybe it was the third or fourth time we ate there, we had Tuscan beans and tuna for antipasto. He set the plate down and said, “Now you really should have some of excellent extra virgin olive oil,” and poured out that luscious green gold.

Shown above: an approximation of that heaven.  The dish is good any time of year. Fresh beans, canned beans (drained and rinsed). I used chickpeas today. Shown below: cannellini beans with diced campari tomato.

It’s a question of preference, tradition, and knowing what you like.  For a dish like this I want tomato to be peeled, seeded, and diced. It’s March. The campari tomatoes are in the grocery story and Costco. They are bursting with flavor. Peeling and extracting seeds takes a while. A job made less onerous if accompanied by a glass of wine.

At the Buca, I’m pretty sure there will no tomato.  And given the quality of the ingredients, the ambiance of the restaurant, and what’s just outside the door (the Arno and Ponte Vecchio) it won’t matter.

BucaOrafo

A Minor Memory

Kutatók éjszakája - Mozart-szonáta kéziratának egy töred

I’ve been using “shazam” as a verb for a while now.

Not to be confused with the interjection that expresses amazement Gomer-Pyle-style. It’s when I use the Shazam app on my phone. It’ll name that tune.

Open the app and touch its signature S to begin Shazamming. The app “listens.” You see concentric circles radiating outward the way submarine sonar looked in old black and white movies. Shazam decodes the music’s digital signal, searches databases, and, Shazam! You’re listening to Vashti Bunyon’s “Train Song” or Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor. Continue reading

Monsters

polyphemous

She’s been reading in bed, beside me.  When I wake up, my wife turns toward me and whispers, “We’re so screwed.”

Good morning.

It’s probably politics she’s reading about. Possibly the environment. I pull myself out of bed, tell her okay, but let’s have coffee first. Continue reading