Friday, May 12, 2017


Eastside Road, May 7, 2017—
READERSHIP IS DOWN, I notice, and it's easy enough to see why: I've been to preoccupied with other things to post here with any regularity. Other things, you ask incredulously; what can possibly push aside his contemplation of food?

I won't go into it here, beyond noting the thankfully exceptional nature of the political news these days. Even so, you say, in such times is one's daily bread not of more concern than. ever? Well, yes, I can see that…

But Cook's had other more pressing work to do, and I haven't been up to handling the pots and pans, and eating out hasn't been indicated since our return from a month away. One thing that's kept us going is vignarola, that marvelous Roman (and marvelously Roman) vegetable concoction; it was Sunday's dinner, thanks to Saturday's Farm Market in Healdsburg.

You soften some chopped guanciale or pancetta or prosciutto in your skillet, and then some onion; and you add in the order in which they need cooking time artichoke, favas, and English peas; and, at the very end of cooking, mint and chopped lettuce. You want these vegetables all cooked. While in Rome a friend who shall remain nameless, a friend who knows a lot about cooking, complained that the Romans don't know how to cook peas, they always overcook them. First: Some peas need more cooking than the tender subtropical peas we find here, which can be eaten raw, pods and all.

Second: Let these flavors stew and marry. (The nature of marriage has been much on my mind these last few days; stewing, I suddenly realize, in all its senses, has a lot to do with marriage.) The individual flavors — yes, and textures — coexist in this marvelous dish, as the individual natures of all the immigrants have in Rome over the last nearly three thousand years (during which, you would think, Romans would have learned how they wanted their peas cooked, if nothing else). The result is a subtle, rich, mysterious, almost chthonic thing, like a long marriage, or a complex history.

Sunday night Cook grilled a couple of small boneless pork chops; they seemed almost infantile and innocent next to this profound vegetable stew.


RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016      2015     2017

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