Thursday, September 07, 2006

Eugenio Spinozzi ~ Buon Anima

Sept 7, 2006 the Full Corn Moon~
Slated to be the brightest full moon of 2006, and I’ve got a house full of ones from the other side. They let themselves in when I went out to run, but they left calling cards (a dead mockingbird and an “unusual” mushroom). And they messed with the alarm and the hard drive, and the batteries are acting wacky. But these are my friends and family, and I love them, till death does us unite.

In memory of Eugenio Spinozzi, who died one year ago today. He was from Italy, I live in Texas. I was in Sicily, and he died in Texas. He was a dear, dear friend. His sister wrote to me today, “I like to imagine he is on one of his trips to the States and that one of these days he will come back.” She in Italy, imagining he’s in the US, and those of us in The States are thinking about his retirement in Italy. That’s how some of us cope.

I'm making dinner one year later, the buon anima meal. There's a full moon, the brightest of the year. I have Pachino pomodoro sauce from Sicily, oil from Tuscany, cheese from Emilia-Romagna, and pasta and wine from Abruzzo.

The mushroom from the garden, I knew I wasn’t going to touch. The wine, though, found me in the cool room, looking for an old one. A 1985 Illuminati Zanna fell into my arms, though the cork was near term. All the while the water is softening up the pasta, Eugenio is yelling, "don’t overcook it." The house is filled with so many spirits, but all of them enjoying the show, no one helping. Take a photograph, what, you aren’t going to open that bottle? Oh yes, you are! We will breath in the wine, you will open it. OK, OK….

I do really mean a moment of somber reflection, but for some reason these spirits want to have fun. Look, I’m not on the other side, I don’t know what they know, but I am outnumbered. Like the week starting September 9, 2001, when my bedroom was filled with every known and unknown relative, floating, hovering above my bed, for nights and nights, until that terrible Tuesday.

For those who don't know, Eugenio brought the wines of Abruzzo, and Illuminati, to America, literally, in his suitcase. A young man, when he started, looking to find himself and his way in the world. For 25 years he traveled endlessly, crisscrossing America with his wines and his stories. He made a million friends and was one of the postwar Italian wine ambassadors who brought the good news from the vineyards. He wasn't perfect, but he gave all he had for the cause. And he is missed.

In the first picture above, we are back in Venice, it’s 1987, and we are going to visit Girolamo Dorigo. He has a few wines, old and new, he wants us to try. A diversion into Venezia, my young son is with us. Eugenio is young, I am young, and the world is ripe like a cantaloupe. And we’re digging in.

The Zanna is ready tonight, it’s 21, it’s legal now. In those days the producers couldn’t use the term Riserva, so they substituted the word Vecchio. Aged. Now it’s really vecchio. The soil in Controguerra, when it rains, picks up the aromas of the deep dark soil, the fig leaves, and the funky barnyard rustic wonderfulness. There’s no animal on the label, the animal is in the bottle. Zanna, the fangs of the wolf, Howl Mountain.

No duxelles, no confit, no fois gras, no wobbly kneed Italian here.

Grab some vines, and let’s roast us some meat.

No cream, no balsamic reduction, no coulis.

Straight, simple, pure. Italian as it was and is meant to be, by God.

Good soul, good memories, good place.

Good Bye Eugenio, Buon Lavoro!

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