When I lived in Chicago, during my brief stint as an art handler one of my colleagues hipped me to Bari Italian Subs west of downtown. It’s an unassuming deli, with the usual assortment of Italian groceries and a deli in back. The thing that makes it so special, and the reason we would often drive many miles out of our way (on the clock, of course) was their hot giardiniera.
Late tomato season ranks among the most intense and fulfilling stretches of the gardening year, especially since those glorious fruits are accompanied in force by their nightshade cousins: peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, and husk cherries. I can never grow enough tomatoes to get us through a whole year—I’d have to dedicate half the garden to them—so I always order a bunch from my man Jay, the tomato whisperer, who first turned me on to blue beech tomatoes back in the day. They’re prolific, dense, meaty, and above all their seeds aren’t bitter. This last attribute may seem insignificant, but it’s a big part of why I love them so.
I took the kid to Italy for his thirteenth birthday; we just got back a few days ago. I realized when we arrived in Rome that it had been fifteen years since I was last there, an inconceivably long time given the crucial part Italy played in forming who I became artistically and culinarily. The visual influences became apparent immediately in my paintings, and that continued until I left figuration behind entirely a few years later. The culinary influence proved to be even more durable, and increased in importance as I began growing and cooking food all the time when we left Brooklyn for the country. Now that I write about food for a living, the Italian approach to ingredients—the simplicity, the honesty, the glorification of peasant frugality—remains one of my touchstones.
Okay, I need to vent for a minute here about the ubiquitous use lately of the word “humbled” in posts all over the place about various awards/honors/interviews/press/accolades/handjobs that people have received and want to promote and/or link to. Shorter: you’re not. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Have you been humiliated, chagrined, or brought low before your peers? No? Then shut the fuck up with your humblebragging. See below for a list of words you should use in its stead:
We had some friends over last night, and I made a pork shoulder according to my standard method when there’s not enough time to slow-smoke it to a giving succulence: a couple hours in the smoker and then a couple more braising in various liquids until it attains a passable tenderness. While the spice rub (coriander, fennel, cumin, garlic, black pepper, fermented chili powder, salt) contributed significant flavor to the meat, it’s the components of the sauce—those various things that made up the braising liquid—that I want to write about.
I saw this link in a friend’s feed recently (30-second read, tops—go!) and went on a bit of a tear in the comments. Idiocracy‘s immortal Gentleman’s Latte (a latte and a hand job) was the first thing I thought of, obviously, and since that movie turned out to be a documentary and “hand salad” is the most abjectly moronic non-political phrase I’ve seen in some time—does nobody at the magazine know what “toss your salad” means?—it positively cries out for promotional slogans fit for America 2.0: The Dumbening.
Almost four years to the day since I shook hands with Zak and Jori on the deal, Project 258: Making Dinner at Fish & Game has been released into the wild. You can buy it directly from the publisher here, and from Amazon here. I’d strongly suggest buying it from your local indie bookstore, however. They need your support. More things:
We finally got it together, just under the wire, to release the new Fish & Game Quarterly. Never ones to bury the lede, we’re pretty happy to announce that Project 258: Making Dinner at Fish & Game will be out on March 14 and you can preorder it right this very minute. It took three years to make this book, so if you’ve been a fan of this blog it’s safe to say that you will enjoy owning and reading the result.