The artichoke is an unfriendly thing. The whole purpose of its design is to keep you away from it. If you try to cut it or rip into it, it bites back with a sting. Most Americans don’t eat many artichokes. I suspect that its ominous nature is the reason why.
I used to hate zucchini. No, that’s not entirely true. I just didn’t care about them—at all. I viewed them as green, watery, tasteless, and not entirely attractive. And millions of them were always showing up in the summer as well-meaning gardeners unloaded their surplus on their friends. Just what was one to do with all that zucchini?
It was like an apparition. A road wound up a steep hill to its pinnacle. The cumulus clouds had parted so that only the summit was sunlit. It was there that we saw the medieval town of Castellucio. The ghostly structures were impressive, yet forbidding. When we reached the town there were no people, only a cutting wind that swirled scraps of litter around in a circle. A wild dog sniffed the street.
I was born in New Jersey. Usually I’m proud of this fact. I’m especially patriotic about my roots when it comes to tomatoes. It has been my opinion that New Jersey is the world’s capital of the tomato.
A round man sat down at the table adjacent to us. His elastic-waist pants gripped the full circumference of his belly, making his rotundity all the more prominent. Like the dome of the Pantheon, his girth appeared to be geometrically equal to his height.
Margherita handed me her longest matterello. Shaped like a dowel, it was three feet long and two inches thick. It was made of oak, smooth, very old, and of a deep rich color and patina. One end was shaped like a small doorknob while the other had a gentle taper resulting in a blunt point. I held it with caution. It looked more like a weapon than a kitchen tool.
It could not have been colder. Perhaps if one were to compare temperatures between here and elsewhere a clinical case could be made. But the fog of the Veneto had proven its reputation. This was more than frosty, it was a bone-chilling, joint-aching, shivering cold. It was a damp cold that went as deep as one could feel. I was miserable
The first afternoon and early evening on the South Rim was tempestuous. The Arizona skies were heavy and swirling. This is never a good sign in the monsoon season of early September, especially for a hiker about to descend into the enormous gash that is Grand Canyon. When stimulated, monsoon season means a heavy diet of rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. It means clear skies that turn to into an apocalyptic fury that can curdle the blood of the most fearless of campers. One look at the sky upon our arrival and I knew it was going to be an interesting week.