Friday, July 18, 2014

In pursuit of the (Italian) American dream

..and other tales told while riding inside the sommambulance

I keep having this dream over and over again. I’m in a restaurant. Pretty paintings on the wall, Bocelli crooning though the speakers, the lights are low. The waiter comes to seat me. He puts me in a corner and brings me a menu and a basket of hot steamy bread.
The bread is loaded up with oil and butter and garlic and parsley, because you can’t have it without parsley. Then I proceed to navigate the menu and the wine list. I order a simple house salad. After all, in my dream it’s always July so the tomatoes are perfect. The salad arrives, the tomatoes are too cold, frozen lifeless, like they had been harvested three months earlier on the other side of the world. Stabbed onto the plate. What happened from there? Salt, lots of it. The good news is, the vinegar was real, not balsamic, sweet molasses vinegar. I order carbonara, I don’t like to cook a carbonara at my house, it’s too messy. I’ve made hundreds tableside in my waking days. I’ve had really, really good carbonara in my waking life. Is it really an Italian dish? In some places, but it’s a marker. Carbonara comes after too many minutes and it’s a big lump; a creamy, cheesy, blob of white, the lifeless overcooked stands of spaghetti shudder underneath the weight of the cheese and the cream and the endless wait under the heat lamp. It looks like crazy strings. Covered by more chopped parsley, topped with an illogically placed parsley festoon.

I take a bite into it. The noodles are mushy. I think of the Henry Hill character in Goodfellas at the end of the movie in his new witness protection identity when he goes outside to pick up the paper, “Can't even get decent food - right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup.”

Here I am in the middle of America, deep urban America. The servers are from Central America, the clients are from Asia. What do they know about real Italian food? To them, this is probably really good. So what’s wrong with me? Why do I keep having this dream?

By this time I am almost asleep because I am rolling all this over my head in order to fall asleep. It wasn’t a dream. It happens. It reoccurs all the time. It might be someone's American dream; it’s just not my American dream.


The young wine savant

In this other dream sequence there is this girl who goes to Italy and has an awakening on an island. She comes back home a woman with a mission. She tastes Italy (and Italian wine) and it is different than any Italian experience she had ever had in America. In her mind she has discovered Italian wine.

When she arrives back home, there are people who have been “discovering” Italian wine for 10, 20, 30 or more years. But she isn’t having anything to do with them. She wants the world to know about her discoveries.

She fell under the spell of the wine god on the island, but she left before the lesson was completed. She came back a savant, in no further need of collaboration. There ain’t no cure for love.

She comes out of a generation that doesn’t want to sell out, doesn’t care for the classics, doesn’t think the successful forerunners are at all meaningful in her universe. Her universe is filled with romance. Wine and sex are intertwined. It’s a bit of a sticky mess, observed from the balcony.

Wine without romance is dreadful. But to the business owner, wine, like anything else, must flourish. And in order for that to be, it must sell. It cannot be a museum piece. It cannot be just adored. It must be sent to others. And in this world, the world of those who are slaves to the wine god, there must be communion with “the others.” The others are not trying to steal her youth or her sex or her enthusiasm, but she is now in their sand box as well, and she must learn to play nicely in that sand box. Or she will be a very lonely person. She may be a savant, but she is in this world, and this is the world she must face. Sooner or later.




wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

Do Bianchi said...

I love that Henry Hill line.

Real Time Analytics