Thursday, July 30, 2009

Junk in the Trunk

Dallas, Texas
So a recent Monday didn’t start out so well. Around 5:00 AM it sounded like someone was banging on my back door. I was already up. A few minutes later I heard some sirens and then what sounded like a full tilt gunfight with automatic weapons. Weekend is over.

Around 12:30 I stepped into the local Whole Foods looking for a sandwich. A demo person was asking me if I wanted to try their prosciutto. I asked her what kind of prosciutto it was, because it didn’t look like it had meat in the little demo cup.

She said something about not knowing what it was, but there was no meat. I looked at the product and it said bruschetta. I said, “Oh you mean brew-skeh-tah.”

She cast this askew glance at me as if to say “Whatchoo talking about Willis?” I said,” My people come from Italy where bruschetta originated and we pronounce it brew-skeh-tah. Brew.Sket.Ahh. Not too hard to say now, is it?”

She started to look truly afraid like I had said something vulgar or worse, threatening. So I wished her luck and ran, not walked, away from this pitiful creature.

The sad thing is, I was trying to help her market the product to a group of customers who most likely have been to Italy. This was in a wealthy part of town in a very upscale store. But once again to use the words of Jim Schutze, I was “Forever the foreigner. More than 30 years I've been here, sawing this same log.”

Other notes: I love the photographs of Kors van Bennekom (all of the B&W's on this post are his), who has an impressive and enormous body of work. I found him on another site Bint photobooks on Internet, which is also a great source for interesting images. People ask me where I get all the images on this blog. I take many of them, but I am a visual forager, always looking for interesting images. These are two additions to where I will now scour for interesting shots.

Uber Blogger Mike Wangbickler showing an impressive array of Rueda whites

Wine notes: I can’t remember a day when I tasted so many unusual (and good too) wines in one evening. Dornfelder and Kerner from Lodi, Verdello from Rueda, St. Laurent from Austria, Zilavka, Bena and Krkosija from Bosnia Herzegovina, Plavac Mali from Croatia (some say the "Noah" of Primitivo Zinfandel), Kékfrankos from Hungary (good blog here for those wines: and an old vine Barbera from Lodi (a great story here too). I tried these at a walk around reception at the Society of Wine Educators yearly conference, this year in Sacramento. It is a great place to learn, to taste and to comingle with many people, at all levels, in the wine biz. And a great value. Highly recommended. Tomorrow I am presenting a topic, The Italian influence in California winemaking with my sidekick, Guy Stout, who has more initials behind his name than Niels Bohr. But that’s a whole’nother story for another day. Gotta get on the wine trail now. Cheers!


Jeff Siegel said...

Glad to see you aren't the only one who has had a run-in with the Grocery Store Chain That Must be Obeyed.

Anonymous said...

wish i was there to witness your performance tomorrow. my regards to Mr. Stout too...

Frank Dobner said...


Nice piece of writing and good research on the photographs. I like the historic B&W pictures.

I think bruschetta in the U.S. is largely different than in most of the places in Italy which is toasted rustic bread, garlic rub, oil and..

In the U.S. it is almost always ground up tomotoes, spices.... I think the only time I had it in Italy as they serve here is in a little restaurant in Pisa run by nuns. Fantastic place where they cook everything over an open fireplace. I will return.\

Tante Grazie per l'articolo.

Frank Dobner

John said...

I like wine, but I'm not a wine buff, however, I nejoy your blog, love the photos and recognise the conversation with the demo person. Sometimes you just have to wonder. As we say in Yorkshire, England; "there's nowt so queer as folk".

Anonymous said...

Everytime I try to tell people haw we pronounce italian words they start waiwing their hands and their arms like crazy puppets....Bruschettaaaa....
(do we use our hands that much?)
I stopped 'helping' people with those words: gnocchi, tagliatelle, fettuccine,vernaccia,....but please still help me with my english

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