Modena, October 13, 2016—
ABOUT HALF WAY between Torino and Rome we pull off the autostrada near the vinegar-making city Modena to spend the night in a house in the country. Where to eat? Our hostess suggests a nearby tratttoria, simple, plain, honest...
Well, we are not in Piemonte any longer, that's for sure. I'm not hung up about the state of people's bodies: fat, skinny, tall, short, there are many ways to be a human being, and they're nearly all interesting to observe.
But the people who eat in this restaurant are clearly mangiatore, confirmed eaters. Even the little bulldog being dragged by its leash on its resistant paws from the front door to the table next to ours — even he is clearly overweight, and not unhappy about it.
Our waiter lost no time getting many slices of exceptionally good salami to our table, along with pretty good bread and pretty mediocre commercial grissini. There was of course no menu; everything was spoken.
I began with tortoloni, dense ones packed with a delicious filling of spinach noticeably laced with nutmeg, and went on to as prosaic, straightforward a stinco di maiale as you could ask. The pork shank simply sat on my plate, with only a little of its own juice to accompany it. But it was good, honest pork, taking me back to the pork we ate on the farm when I was a boy. And on the side was a bowl of marvelous cold pickled onions.
Dessert was a sacripantina, a liquor-soaked three-layer dessert involving chocolate, rustic custard, and soaked cake colored an improbable red with the traditional alkermes, which I'll leave you to look up — you might not believe me.
Rebola, Romandiola, "Lupi di Rimini", 2013: light, refreshing, pleasant. And a glass of the local Lambrusco, fizzy, a little sweet.
Trattoria Secchia, via Serrassina 1083, Soliera (MO); +39 059.567.130