For many years now, when fine food and wine are the topic, I've hidden behind the fading personna of an Italian-American shop boy, who grew up with an appreciation for simple food and maybe a glass of nice Chianti now and then. Pop pop's tomatoes, a little pasta fazool.
That's all in there - but underneath layers and layers of time spent at a lot of farmers markets, in fact visits to open air markets all over the world - that's my idea of sightseeing, perhaps a leftover from years spent minding the second hand book stall at the Reading Terminal Market in Philly - and more opportunities for fine dining than I like to admit to. That poor little shop boy, who wanted nothing more out of life than a bowl of snapper soup with sherry at McGillins on a Friday before heading to McGlincheys for endless glasses of Youengling - has been around a few blocks, a few times.
Recently, my perambulations included an opportunity to wander the streets of Cambridge, past the Red Poll cattle grazing on Midsummer Common (pointing and saying " Yes, YOU'RE looking especially tasty today - I shall eat you ALL up!") and even into a few of the local dining and drinking establishments.
As a Yank, I must admit to a skeptical attitude towards Jamie Oliver. His appearances on TV make him look like a snivelling, whining baby - dressed as a carrot. I'm absolutely prepared to rethink his attitudes towards kids school meals after visiting Jamie's Italian, his Cambridge venue, with a group of fellow "grown ups".
One of my dining companions that night pointed at the line hams and cheeses hanging as the only curtain between us and the kitchen and said "Look! We're safe!.
It was an easy menu to find favorites on - charcutery and fried seafood. The poor little shop boy nodded at Jane's dad when he suggested a Valpolicella.
I'm not touching pasta these days, but if I had - the spaghetti vongole - with a local variation, winkles from Cornwall - would have been the only way to go. As it was, I didn't even hit the bread bowl. It looked nice, though.
So, SO deprived. The poor little shop boy.
Next - our party moves on towards it's destination, a little house in a tiny village in a quiet part of France.
Read the "Slow Food Manifesto" here