Thursday, July 19, 2012


Portland, Oregon, July 18, 2012—
A FAIR AMOUNT OF TALK about marjoram while dinner was being prepared. I guess Giovanna has it planted in the garden; I know we do, at home. It's one of my favorites, she said; me too, I answered. I have no doubt about individual differences in taste receptors (and taste reception as processed in the brain, for that matter); why shouldn't some of those differences be genetically linked, and passed from father to daughter?

Marjoram is the first herb I recall being attuned to. This happened sometime between 1945 and 1952, during the seven years my family lived on a broken-down farm; but I know the marjoram in question was not fresh; it was store-bought, probably the Schilling brand; and I had added it to a can of Le Sueur brand English peas, perhaps with a few tatters of torn-up lettuce. I'd got this idea from reading something, who knows where: in those days the only magazine that arrived was Farm Journal, and I doubt the recipe was in its pages. Perhaps in a newspaper.

Tonight we have orecchie, little ear-shaped pasta, if your ear is disfigured. Giovanna cooked some tuna pieces in a canned-tomato sauce that also involved capers and minced onion: as you see, marjoram is strewn atop. A few grinds of salt and pepper, and you have a fine meal; green salad afterward, of course.
Verdejo, Hermanos Lurton (Rueda), 2010; Barbera d'Alba, Ca' del Sarto, 2009

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