Category Archives: Essay

The Cheese of Forgiveness

 

don oreste benzi

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

Have I Got a Ragu for You

imola

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

Critters

bug on the subway

Whatever we’re up to, it probably won’t work.

“Wouldn’t you know it,” my wife says.

We pull up to a red light a mile from our house.  It’s 7:00 a.m. Stopped in front of us is a pest control truck. On the back of it, facing us, is the company name, telephone number, and an all-star list of domestic pests that, if you don’t watch it, can get out of control. Wasps, ants, termites, bats, raccoons, ground hogs, mice; each pictured with a larger-than-life-size photo for the reading impaired or animal challenged, or both, on the back of the truck. Continue reading

Stand Short

tall boy short girl

Short people of the world, unite!

My wife and I are having breakfast one morning at a local restaurant. In this establishment, you stand in line and place your order at the cash register. You take a number, find a table, and wait for your food.  We’re here early. The restaurant is full of men. It’s the power breakfast hour.

While we wait for our food we watch more men come in, many of them dressed in summer business casual.  A couple tables over, two guys with a laptop talk in hushed tones. At the table next to us a guy leans over a legal pad, checking his notes. He’s wearing a black and white gingham shirt, jeans, and running shoes.  He’s got serious, shiny, freshly-combed-back Gordon Gecko hair. In a couple minutes he’s joined by another guy in jeans. Their meeting begins. Continue reading