Category Archives: Uncategorized

Calamari and Seppia: Happiness Plural


Is there a more guilty pleasure than a fritto misto (frittura, as they say here)? You can see what you’re eating, sort of–rings of sliced calamari, curled shrimps, spongy scallops, a stray chunk of fish, and, if you’re lucky, some thinly sliced or shredded zucchini–all lightly covered in a crispy brown batter, lightly salted. Continue reading

Poached Cod with What?


Who thinks of these things? In conversations I’ve had with Italians about talented chefs, they refer to “fantasia,” which  translates as something like “imagination.” This cod dish, served as an antipasto at Ristorante La Vela in Pesaro, is an excellent example. And as with most things on the table in Italy, particularly in my wife’s regions (Emilia-Romagna and le Marches), the guiding principle is simplicity. Continue reading

This American Smile

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How to account for this witless cheer?

“I hate airports,” my wife says.

We’re checked in for an early flight, sitting in a Leo’s Coney Island at Detroit Metro. Leo’s is a joint that, along with diner breakfasts and a vaguely Greek lunch and dinner menu, is famous for its eponymous hotdogs slathered with chili and onions and, if you want it, mustard.  Even at 6:00 a.m. Good morning.

“What are you going to have?” she asks.

Outside the big picture window, passenger jets taxi toward takeoff.  On the restaurant sound system, above the din, I can make out The Jackson Five singing “I Want You Back.”  I feel a tickle in the back of my throat, a cold coming on. Continue reading

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

T-shirts, Cobblers, Invasive Species

Finishing lunch I turn to my wife and smile big. “Do I have fleas in my teeth?”

It’s a potential danger up north, where fruit flies appear out of nowhere, dive into your wine glass, and drown. In the last ten minutes I’ve probably swallowed a couple of them


“You didn’t look.”

I smile, she looks. “No.”

I know what she’s thinking: Peach cobbler. Up here I think water, lake, swim. She thinks dessert, fruit, peach cobbler. And for good reason. Years past we have had late summer cobblers with late summer fruits—to wit, peaches—that are memorable. That’s understatement for her. More than mere memorable, they are shining moments. This year we have come up short. Continue reading

Zucchini Flower Risotto

This is zucchini flower risotto revisited. The one my wife made the other day was with brown rice, which meant a long cook and a risotto that didn’t have that velvety, gooey consistency that makes you consider executing a faceplant.

Yesterday she used arborio rice. Velvet, check. Goo, check. Faceplant, suffice to say I got low. But we had friends over for lunch. Also yesterday a little bit of saffron, which imparts a richer color. But taste, I just don’t know. What saffron tastes like. Further research is required.

Those zucchini chips you see, thin thin thin. And the blossom, faded orange in color, may be one of the most delicate, most appealing of ingredients. Though I would also argue essentially without much flavor. Pure sex appeal. Otherwise little substance.

Tizi also makes a fritter with these blossoms, beer batter. They are to die for, but again, you bite and ask, What’s a zucchini flower taste like? the batter’s the think. Probably a beer batter fritter with paper towel instead of blossom would be just as good.

Where We Are Was Once a Sea

When you get to Pahrump it feels like the end of the world. It’s California desert country, on the northwest edge of Death Valley National Park. Driving into town we pass Bride Street, Gravel Pit Road, and WTF Sand and Stone. Next to the Mobil where we gas up is a storefront church. It might have been a travel agency at one time, Anywhere But Here Travel. Now, in big letters above the door, between two crosses, the church identifies itself: IT IS FINISHED. What, as in end times? Continue reading

Foreward Indies Finalist

March 20, 2018
For Immediate Release

American English, Italian Chocolate is named 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist

As part of its mission to discover, review, and share the best books from university and independent publishers (and authors), independent media company Foreword Magazine, Inc. hosts its annual awards program each year. Finalists represent the best books published in 2017. After more than 2,000 individual titles spread across 65 genres were submitted for consideration, the list of finalists was determined by Foreword’s editorial team. Winners will be decided by an expert team of booksellers and librarians

“Choosing finalists for the INDIES is always the highlight of our year, but the job is very difficult due to the high quality of submissions,” said Victoria Sutherland, founder/publisher of Foreword Reviews. “Each new book award season proves again how independent publishers are the real innovators in the industry.”

Winners in each genre—along with Editor’s Choice Prize winners and Foreword’s INDIE Publisher of the Year—will be announced June 15, 2018.

Christmas 2017, Dear Friends

Dear Family and Friends,

This year there will be no Christmas mustache. I do not refer to my face. I refer to our hearth, which Tizi has adorned the past few years with a horizontal wreath. In the off-season she collects holiday greenery and reddery. She’ll say, “Hey, let’s stop at English Gardens.” Definitely my idea of a good time. We come out of the store loaded with artificial poinsettia blossoms, faux holly branches laden with berries, assorted sprigs and stems, fronds and vines, shoots and peduncles. In prior years, bent over these decorative riches, she lashed together a long, narrow pastiche of holiday flora that, to my eye, looked like a festive Snidely Whiplash mustache. Same ingredients this year, except more; less linear, more rectangular arrangement. Suitable for framing. Continue reading

In the Context of Love, a review


The first scene tells us so much.

In Linda Sienkiewicz’s novel, In the Context of Love, in the very first scene a woman and her two children visit the husband-father in prison. The encounter is shot through with awkwardness: bewildered children, humiliated wife, appalling institutional sterility. “The four of us sat at a metal table,” the narrator, Angelica Lowsley, observes, “falling into the same seating arrangement we used to take at the dinner table.” Gavin, the husband, tries to make small talk, tries to connect with his children, while Angelica tries to control her rage at her husband, at the situation, at what her life has become. This is a context of love. Rock bottom. Continue reading