Category Archives: Eating

Falsely Badly Bigly

Donald Trump

Donald Trump feels badly for Brett Kavanaugh. He feels terribly for Kavanaugh and his family.

When I hear him say things like this, I feel sadly. In front of reporters with microphones and cameras, which means in front of all the world, when this president says he feels badly, it just makes me feel sickly. Continue reading

Get Thee to a Bakery

ladder

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” my wife says.

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, early September.  I’m climbing a ladder leaned up against the house. It’s that time of year. The air has begun to change; it’s both crisp and faintly rotten-smelling. Where we live we are rich in cottonwoods, proving that riches can also be a curse. Trees with big leaves, cottonwoods start unleaving early in the fall. Our trees are mature, tall beasts.  The eaves and gutters on the house are already full. Up on the ladder, I’m on clog patrol. Continue reading

Oxtail, Head-air, and a Swim

trastevere

At dinner last night I had a piece of Lake Superior trout with oxtail on top of it.  Five green beans and a fried polenta ball with roasted corn inside. Nifty.

To my knowledge I’ve only had oxtail once, in Rome, when my daughter was having a semester abroad in college. She and I ate lunch one day in Trastevere. A chef buddy back home named Franco had spoken appreciatively of Trastevere. Ballanno, cantanno. Non lavora nessuno.  They sing, they dance. Nobody works.   Continue reading

The Pizza: Simple to Complex

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For dinner one night we find our way to Casa del Sole.  It’s a country house outside of Pesaro.  We’re 15-20 miles inland, where the gentle hills rising to Urbino begin, far enough from the sea to know we’ll be eating meat.

“We haven’t been to this place before,” my wife’s cousin says.

“But my sister has,” his wife adds.  “Si mangia bene.”

That’s good enough for us. Continue reading

Spiritual Peril

One of my first recollections of grappa dates back more than thirty years. My wife and I joined a friend and her husband for dinner down in Villa Verucchio, at a place called Casa Zanni. One part butcher shop, nine parts restaurant, Zanni is known for its meats. That night, after warming up with tagliatelle al ragu, we probably had a mixed grill: castrato, which is a cut of young lamb, pork ribs, and sausage.

At the end of the meal Fiorenzo said he would like a digestivo, a “grappina,” a little grappa. The Italian diminutive makes just about anything seem attractive. I pictured a small glass, maybe the size of a thimble. Bring one for me too, I told the waiter. Continue reading

Primary Sources

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The food is good, plentiful. The wine, Sangiovese from Bertinoro, a barrel of it.

Around here there is no shortage of help if you want to find a good place to eat. One of our sources is Ricky. He has an enoteca across Ponte di Tiberio, on the San Giuliano side of Rimini. Before lunch or dinner, we stop in for a glass of wine.

The thing to do at Ricky’s is listen to the locals. What do Italians talk about? Where and what to eat. Our friend Adele jokes about Italians: Even while they’re eating, all they talk about is food. Continue reading

The Kids Are All Right

These are people who know and care about local food.

piada

For years I would ask my Arabic students, Where do you eat? In what restaurants do you find the best, most authentic Arabic food? The response was predictable: a bewildered smile. Then, also predictable, the answer: At home. Whatever they ate in a restaurant was, by default, going to be second best. Eating around in Dearborn, I tended to look toward the kitchen, hoping to see an old lady or two. If there was a grandma back there, that was a good sign.

In the last couple days, we’ve eaten in establishments with kids in charge. Kids? Okay, people younger than us, a lot younger, fully in command of local food tradition.   Continue reading

Grab a Bunch of Gobbi

market

They should be soft. They will have a slightly bitter taste.

Grab what?

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

A Moderately Unthinkable Proposal

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It’s the pot’s fault.

The Italians call it a tegame di coccio or a pentola di terracotta. What cooks in it–a stew, a sauce, a roast– is, well, bliss. During the long cook, fragrance permeates your house. Of rabbit ala cacciatore. Of polpettone. Of lamb shoulder. You smell the meat, but also there is the unmistakable fragrance of hot terracotta. You smell the pot. It smells so good. Why I don’t know. It just does. Continue reading