literary recipe (pasta noir): F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Summer Pasta Chicken Salad (125 years this month)

Only an essential, clean sauce can complete an elegant pasta dish as a purple-hued cloud can complete a glorious summer sunset. Not a vulgar sauce like, say, one made with Italian meatballs, those shiny, dirty round mounds of grease that sit glistening on the top of Little Italy restaurant displays calling out to passing Midwestern travelers like sirens to Odysseus’ crew. This dish is closer to the essence of pasta and for that reason I recommend you use only the finest ingredients, Martelli butterfly noodles, the most virgin of Tuscan olive oils, and free–range Connecticut chicken. (Avoid those of New Jersey, as they are often unclean. I know Hemingway thinks such differences are pretentious and without significance but he puts ketchup on his hotdogs. Ketchup. Hotdogs. ‘Nough said.)

Food Science – Professional palates are terrible at judging wine

Anyone can learn and appreciate but without those conditions…consistency, already nearly impossible in the typical context of wine tasting competitions with a bizzilion wines out of context, is unlikely. I suppose flavor perception might be comparable metaphorically to perfect pitch. Money can’t buy it. But as it seems to be increasingly evident, the notion of removal from context of sensory inputs, of sort of absolute qualia, probably isn’t usually descriptively useful. Maybe ever. Perception, integration and response seem to occur on many levels, use parallel pathways, and therefor per force are contextually influenced. Plus, well, this anglo-saxon notion of absolute point scores and our increasing use of uncouth symbolic representations of wealth…don’t change the fact that a cheap, disdained bottle of acidic, cherry-ish fast-fermented novello is the perfect fermented drinking sauce to accompany a paper roll full of steaming hot roasted chestnuts – and together they make a complex, culinary whiz. You need neither expertise nor wealth to enjoy that. (It might be, of late, better to have neither.)

Roman Flavors – Sushi at Hamasei

Why on earth would you want to have to sushi in Rome? With all the traditional alternatives, trattorie, restaurants, enoteche, osterie, pizzerie, regional take-away joints, delis for fresh sandwiches, etc., is your urge for a sushi fix that uncontainable that you just gotta’ have some hunks of raw fish with vinegared rice, a little ugly mound of green wasabi and another little ugly pinkish mound of sliced ginger root? Well, yes.  

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