Tag Archives: italian food

Polenta, I’m Coming

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Twice now I’ve chosen not to eat polenta. My wife and I are in restaurants. It’s a choice between tagliatelle and beans or passatelli in a vegetable sauce, or polenta, I reluctantly say no to the polenta.

Last night it happened again. This just has to stop.

Oh, polenta. It comes to the table vivid yellow, this cooked corn flour mush with a sauce ladled over the top of it. Last Sunday, at Osteria del Pisello, their polenta with pea sauce.

You eat it with a spoon. It’s still hot. The red sauce, peas or beans or ragu or whatever, is likely to leave an reddish-orange olive oil sheen, as you stir, mix, spoon, and lift this wonderful food your mouth. To borrow a phrase from Raymond Carver, it’s a simple, good thing. That’s the dominant culinary principle in this region. Simple is good. More likely, simple is perfection.

When she was a kid, my wife says the practice was to pour out the polenta on a large cutting board and put it in the middle of the table, cover it with ragu. No plates. No servings portioned out. Each individual, spoon in hand, having at it.

In one of my undergraduate psychology classes I learned about what researchers call “the just noticeable difference.” We’re talking levels of perception. At what point does one lose the ability to distinguish one sensory input from another that is a measurable gradation less or more in strength. What is the just noticeable difference between the pleasure you take in one dish you love over another you love? That’s the fix we are in when we eat over here.

As we say these days, indulging in cliche, It’s all good. (This is cliche I can live with.) Seen below, last night’s polenta from Trattoria Rinaldi.

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Polenta, I’m coming.

A Reading at Hannan House

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Happy to be reading at Hannan House, 4750 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan on September 16, 2018, 2-4 p.m.  Music, open mic first. Then the reading.

They say, “He’s funny, warm, and peevish.” Yup, that’s me.

 

Brown Rice, Chopped Tomato, Arugula

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When gluttony meets restraint…

There’s always brown rice.

We are on the threshold of tomato time in Michigan. It’s hard to be patient. At the local farmers market they will have both red and gold cherry tomatoes (what the Italians call pendolini) and Early Girls and Big Boys bursting with flavor. You take the Girls and Boys, slice and anoint them with olive oil. Continue reading

A Sweet and Tangy Spaghetti Dish

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How to make a fast sauce that’s always great

A number of years ago I taught a cooking class I called “ten sauces, ten pastas, ten wines.” The animating idea was to become a good match-maker. Some sauces need a particular form of pasta. Meat sauces, for example, instead of spaghetti or linguini or tagliolini, are best paired with wheels or fusilli or a wide noodle like fettuccine or tagliatelle. Tengono il sugo, they say in Italian. The pasta holds the sauce. And wine? I didn’t know much about wine then, and still don’t. The class was an excuse to try ten different wines from all over Italy. Continue reading