Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aristocrat Sauce, Ubiquitous Alfredo & Pleonastic Paradoxes

"First introduced" in America ~Photo by Teresa Rafidi
During the holidays, many of us take to the country, to visit grandfathers and other relatives. One of the odd things about living in America is that wherever you go you will usually find a Chinese, a Mexican and an Italian restaurant. And last weekend, we did indeed find an Eye-talian restaurant in the unlikeliest of places.

Krugerville (population 903) is a bedroom community of Aubrey, which is a suburb of Denton, which is a little north of Dallas. We were invited to a birthday party for lunch and made the 45 minute trek from town.

Fettuccini (sic) Alfredo with Chicken, or Shrimp
The little place was redolent with garlic, Sinatra and ketchup-colored dining rooms. The menu was typical suburban Red-state fare. There were indeed some very odd combinations. I will never, ever understand combining Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken or, horror of all horrors, shrimp. But there we were, in party mode, having a good time in the company of family. Hey, this was sandwiched between two other Italian meals we had. I was already heading into a food coma, so why not?

Chicken Piccata, with a side of garlic
It wasn’t Indiana, or a little sunburnt town in Arizona where they put wayward Italians in the Witness Protection program. It was “country”. The local supermarket advertises “deer corn”. And here was an Italian, from Calabria of all regions, who settled down with his son and started up a little place. I don’t mean to make fun of the spot, because what they do, they do pretty well. They have promised me, the next time I come back, a fig tree and an authentic Calabrese meal. And I promised to bring back a couple of bottles of Ciro and Gaglioppo and a bottle of Far Niente Cabernet (for papa) and so we will see.

I have planets of good food laid before me, too much. So that’s not a problem. But here’s the challenge. What if? What if I can “turn” these guys into making a couple of spots on their menu for the real deal?

Any guess as to what Aristocrat Sauce is?
Hint: It's a combo of two other sauces listed
It happened the other night in another northern community, about 30 miles east, as the buzzard flies, where we walked into a crowded pizzeria (VPN certified) and had some notable food and wine (an all Italian wine list in what is assuredly Kendall-Jackson country) . So things are changing, slowly, but they are. They are. They really, really are.

Are we in that golden moment for Italian food in the greater United States known as “the transition”? Man do I love America, anything goes. Anything is possible. Anything?

Fettucine Alfredo, with Shrimp Scampi

Then again, sometimes, shrimp scampi is just shrimp scampi.

Pleonastically paradoxical  Shrimp Scampi, or,
for the culinarily suicidal, Shrimp Parmigiana


Wine Curmudgeon said...

I don't understand Italian-American alfredo, with or without chicken or shrimp.

Thomas said...


At least once each year, usually around this time of year, I watch the movie Big Night.

To me, the most telling scene in this gem of a movie is the one when a woman wants to order spaghetti with meatballs as a side order to her seafood risotto.

Imagine what the chefs may be up against.

gsricks said...

You reminded me of the huge difference between Italian-American food and the real food of Italy. I think that the currents running through the culinary world are propelling the authentic forward. Once you've had the real deal you wouldn't dream of going back to Chef Boy-Ar-Dee. America is groping its way towards a new food identity. The transition is at hand - at least I hope so!

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