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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Now I Understand

Some years ago, my daughter returned from Italy, after an extend stay.  I prepared for her a dish of pasta in a white sauce of breadcrumbs, garlic, anchovy and black olives.  Not too shabby or so I thought. 

I was informed by my offspring that I had just prepared essentially the most ordinary of pasta dishes.  A common staple in every household.  

Last night I suffered the next indignity. A version of the this ordinary staple elevated to the sublime.  The anchovies were delicate, gently flavored and not at all salty. The garlic forward, yet not in control. The breadcrumbs light; just enough to attract flavor. And the olives, by me a salty addition, here forgotten. 

Of course, words come from the mouth while dinner passes the other way.  Two different realms. All I can say is the flavor was so stunning I forgot to take a picture.  

But I learned a new word.  Dolci is sweet but salato is savory. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Real Florence

Two days ago we returned to Florence for our second year, where I serve as the Fall rabbi to a small and vital Reform congregation. 

Jo and I were so happy upon our return.  After an initial grocery shop, with a friend and member and her daughters, we charged out to walk the city. It felt like a place we belonged. We entered stores in which we were remembered and ate dinner in a old haunt.  And it was very good. 

Yet, something was missing. Something so Florence that can't be bought or eaten or seen. And as it turned out, we needed to be surprised. 

Today, we went to the indoor market of Sant'Ambrogio for some fresh pasta, cheese, bread, bread soup, pesto and salted anchovies. Such a beautiful day, sunny and mid-70's. As we left the indoor market to buy bananas outside a now black sky began to seriously give up its rain. This was the missing something. It rains not all day, but almost every day in Florence. 

We waited the required ten minutes in the market, while telling the many street vendors that we did not need an umbrella. Then puddle hopping we returned home. Next time we go anywhere we will remember our umbrellas. 

The picture captures the returning blue sky and the tail end of the rain.  So good to be here. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wistful for Florence

Up the hills, past villas, small groves and arbors.  And by the Duomo, which, I swear, moved into our path no matter where we went.  The fifteenth century refuses to yield.

That giant rival, Milan, now resembles Hartford: large and gaunt. Rome, thief of the renaissance, remembers Mussolini and Berlusconi more than Leo X, who yet lives in Florence, returned to his Medici home.

Florence is the butter of civilization’s milk; nourishment of the flesh churned by hand.  The art, the food, the social structure, even the soccer sated in turned, sweet cream.

Fresh oil, fresh wine.  Old recipes.  The bread remains salt free. The tripe looks ancient.  The streets forever too narrow.