this explains everything.

when one calls the italian ministry of the interior, one reaches an automated recording of some woman’s mellifluous voice, rattling off the list of options or explaining that everyone is on vacation until further notice. however, this is barely discernible underneath whitney houston’s rendition of “i will always love you,” which is fuckin’ blasted in the foreground all the while. i wonder what the pop hit of choice is over at the ministry of defense?

there’s this theory
that your body will naturally attempt to compensate for any nutritional deficiences with manifestations of cravings. so apparently, i’m really low on sodium chloride and vitamin E, because lately, i’ve been chucking loads of maldon’s sea salt on everything i eat, after a good dousing with extra virgin olive oil (an excellent one made by masi, a vintner from the veneto). or it’s more like i prepare things that beg for this treatment — which, besides pa amb tomaqut and just plain ol’ tomatoes, means boiled new potatoes, poached chicken salad (which, i’ve discovered, is best — amazingly tender and succulent — when you let the chicken rest for a few hours after poaching) and roasted chicken thighs. and now, roasted peppers. for some reason i’ve never been that psyched about roasting peppers, but i’ve, yes, developed a craving as of late, and it’s pepper season here in the piedmont (and the nearby town of carmagnola, halfway between bra and torino, is famous especially for its “bull’s horns” peppers, a long, skinny, pointy variety). so i’ve spent the past couple of nights keeping an eye on these guys as they char over the gas flame of my range. and then i read in the nytimes grimes’ revelation that i didn’t have to leave them whole (which makes the fuckers difficult to char evenly and even more difficult to peel) but that you can actually cut them into quarters. this he got from a martha stewart program. so let’s all thank her for sharing this and wish her well as she heads off to prison, where she belongs. grimes also mentions in this same article his distate for canned peaches. sorry, bill, i beg to differ — canned peaches are one of my favorite things to eat. and i wouldn’t bother with ppin’s whole rigamarole of caramelizing the syrup: all the gussying up they require is transferral from can to bowl, retaining an ideal 5% of the syrup. i might even like canned peaches better than fresh peaches (sacrilege, i know), but in recent years, i’ve just found the fuzz unbearably, well, fuzzy in the mouth. i’ll continue to stick to nectarines.

but isn’t it amazing how the whole canning process transforms foods like peaches and tuna into entirely different entities?

it seems that i’ve also been doing quite a bit of roasting lately, especially after a somewhat disappointing braising episode last week. i’ve been bringing home these lovely green figs from the market and roasting them in a little 8″ skillet in a good chunk of butter. after a half hour or so, they give off this great figgy syrup that mingles with the butter (excellent with a crusty slice of bread), and i eat the warm gooshy figs with giant chunks of ricotta piemontese (which is made in part with mascarpone, naturally). and adding honey is decidedly not overkill.


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