For the six or so people that have consistently kept up with this blog (JG3, Becky, another person that actually subscribed to it whose name escapes me, and the other three that have looked at it on a routine basis), I offer my thanks. But what you are all dying to know, of course, is what we’ve been eating and what Italian fashions consist of these days. I’ll answer the last first.
Italians of a certain age are definitely well-dressed, regardless of where you go. The younger generation seems to be lost in the 80s, God help them. Pegged jeans and pants are all the rage among young lads, along with really bad Menudo-style haircuts. Scarves are a must, even with t-shirts. I’m not exactly sure when men make the leap from dorks to dapper, but they most certainly do. As for Ireland, if you’ve seen “The Fighter,” you know what people in Dublin are wearing.
But enough about fashion. What you really want to know about is food. Food in Dublin, such as it is, is expensive and white. And boiled. Or fried. Food in Italy is delicious and simple and expensive, unless you’re eating with relatives. Then it’s even simpler, even more delicious, and served in gargantuan, gut-busting portions, accompanied by gallons of wine. It’s a toss-up as to what the best thing was that we had. And Kat and I would certainly have differing opinions. The best pizza was definitely in Ferrara at Pizzeria Este Bar. I got a great porchetta sandwich at an AutoGrill rest stop off the Auto Strada outside of Florence, which subsequently made me sicker than hell. I had a better one in Orvieto at the weekly market, which did not.
All of this thinking about food, though, got me thinking about how utterly silly and above all pretentious food has gotten in the States. The same thing is happening to bartenders. Every time I hear the word “artisanal” applied to booze and chow, it makes me roll my eyes. So now I’m trying to imagine the things I would like to see on menus (a la’ the magnificent FUDS phony menu–Google “FUDS” and you’ll never look at a restaurant menu the same again). Kat and I were walking around Clontarf this afternoon, and I was just miserable and under the influence of high-octane Italian cold medicine. As I floated along, I came up with some doozies for Ireland…
–Mashed duck dorks with pilaf of Wheatabix, treacle drizzle, boiled apples, and mugwort
–Weed salad with tartare of leprechaun, spoonful of lard, twigs, beetles, and a hot bran mash
–Cold Conger eel puree over braised peat shank, wattles, clompies, and syrup of ipecac
–Pancreas with mash, nappies, and clotted turds under a steamed fillet roast of Lornadoon
–Steamers and bacon-wrapped sow nipples, with beets n’ cherries in a chilled sawgrass reduction
I wish I had photos…It’s a good exercise coming up with this kind of silliness. Try it and spread the wealth amongst friends or co-workers. A cautionary note, however…I’ve found that with the exception of my two brothers and my sister, no one really thinks phony menus are that funny. This leads me to believe that most people have a non-existent sense of humor…
This kind of thing just doesn’t work for Italian food. At least, not for Italian food made in Italy by real Italians. Cuisine is defined by region and everyone in that region makes the same dishes and types of pasta. We were in the Emiglia-Romagna for a week and all of the restaurant menus had the same things on them. The only universal is pizza, which everybody eats and is usually pretty good.
And speaking of food and dinner, it’s time to fabricate comestibles here at Cousin Eleanor’s house…Tomorrow, the journey back home continues.