Wet means everything uncovered, unwrapped, naked and exposed to the human touch…
“If I lived here,” I tell my daughter, “I would shop at Fart Mart.”
I’m referring to the grocery store next to the high-rise where she’ll be living the next two years or so. It’s real name is FMart. She goes there only when she has to.
FMart is a full service grocery store, with a Chinese accent. The store combines elements of industrial food production and distribution with the traditional Chinese “wet market.” It’s about the size of a large 7-11, well, four 7-11’s piled on top of each other. Four floors of pandemonium. Continue reading
Outside these places, people in line wait for the goods. We stop twice to eat.
Hello. Thank you. So far that’s all the Chinese I know. Nihao (KNEE-how). Xiexie (sheh-sheh).
I could use one more word, right away: fork.
Coming to Shanghai I knew I would face the challenge of how to get food in my mouth. I’ll use chopsticks in restaurants back home. It’s kind of fun, for about five minutes. I adjust my grip and the length of the sticks, align them and go for the pinch and lift. When my grasp fails, I stab whatever I can with one stick and take comfort in knowing there is always a fall back plan, a life preserver. Flatware. Inevitably I’ll lay my chopsticks down so I can pick up a fork and fully engage the food. Continue reading
They should be soft. They will have a slightly bitter taste.
They look like celery stalks. Except much bigger. Except for the leaves that sprout along the edges. And really except for the spines along those same edges that make gobbi look more like a medieval weapon of war than a food. Continue reading
Asked how I feel today, I’ll say, “Fresh as a fish.”
It’s a figure of speech I heard on the TV yesterday. The program examined the quality and safety of fish from the Adriatic. We were at an inland restaurant eating brassato, a braised beef dish our friend Lidia makes. At noon, for the workers who come for lunch, Lidia turns on TV news. The focus was on fish. This was long-form journalism. Three journalists in a studio were importantly holding forth, along with reporters and scientists in the field hoisting octopi aloft by their tentacles, displaying crates of sole, mussels, and clams; a full half-hour expose on fish. Given my limited fish vocabulary, I couldn’t follow much of what they were saying. I recognized a few fish names; every so often I heard inquinamenti, the Italian word for pollutants. Continue reading
The sauce was red, runny, and pungent, with bits of tomato-esque matter and oregano floating in it.
I was reading the other day in The Daily Beast about Mario Batali’s friendship with Jim Harrison and their “search for the genuine.” Harrison’s final book, A Really Big Lunch, a posthumous collection of his madman essays on food and drink, was about to be published. My mind turned to a favorite subject and my search for the genuine.
Ragu. Continue reading