Once upon a time in Palermo : Caponata

In his chapter on Sicily in The Food of Italy, Waverly Root quoted Sicilian writer and scholar Gaetano Falzone: “He who has not eaten a caponatina of eggplant has never reached the antechamber of the terrestrial paradise.” Last fall, I found myself in Palermo, Falzone’s hometown, tasting caponata for the first time. That feels like…… Continue reading Once upon a time in Palermo : Caponata

Topping and tailing : Fagioli lessi

“I’m gonna grab an espresso. Any else want one?” Sam’s raises his hand, then continues dragging a giant crate of string beans over to one of the long wooden tables in the cortile. He lifts the crate and dumps them out in front of Cybelle, who is sitting and waiting patiently for us to join…… Continue reading Topping and tailing : Fagioli lessi

Kicking the can : Summer corn, peach, and tomato salad

My family moved to the Chicago suburbs from Wisconsin before I started school. Our house sat in the middle of a cul-de-sac. Almost all of our neighbors had kids around me and my sisters’ ages. We spent the summers playing kick the can and tag football in the street. On Saturdays, my mom went to…… Continue reading Kicking the can : Summer corn, peach, and tomato salad

Sweet and sour : Zucchini in agrodolce

The dog has pancreatitis. The beaches in Chicago are still closed. I sprained my toe three weeks ago and still can’t run on it. The coronavirus continues, leaving in its wake remnants of hope and optimistic spirits. The end is nowhere in sight and despair is never farther than a few breaths away. This week…… Continue reading Sweet and sour : Zucchini in agrodolce

Tomatoes, again : Pan con tomato

When I was a kid, my mother had a couple clusters of garden space situated on the periphery of our giant backyard. Our backyard was a rectangle shape and had two small hills of man-made landscaping on either side. The fence line buttressed the bike path and, behind that, the Metra, a commuter train that…… Continue reading Tomatoes, again : Pan con tomato

Don’t be a bonehead : Turnip soup with greens

In Italian, turnip is rapa; the plural, rape (pronounced RA-peh). Rapa also means bald or shaved head; in slang, una rapa is someone who’s acting like a bonehead. Every time I see one of the college bros who live down the street from me throw garbage into the blue recycling bins, I want to yell:…… Continue reading Don’t be a bonehead : Turnip soup with greens

One time I ate a meal

I’ll be turning 35 this month, which means I’ve eaten roughly 38,325 meals over the course of my lifetime. Some have been rote and unimpressive. I went through a streak in college where I survived off of wet spaghetti and turkey sandwiches that tasted like cardboard. Others have been more memorable. * One time I…… Continue reading One time I ate a meal

To live in the gray : Couscous salad with fresh peas and mint

I got a box of English peas in my CSA last week, my first peas of the year. The skins were firm and taut. They snapped like twigs as we shelled them. Inside were neat rows of perfectly round green orbs the size of pearls, sweet and tender enough to eat straight from the shell.…… Continue reading To live in the gray : Couscous salad with fresh peas and mint

To work with what you’ve got : Butternut squash curry

The state of the world being what it is, I haven’t had the energy to cook. I mostly just want to stare out my window in a daze or hide in my closet. But I mustered up the will to make this a few days ago with random bits I had on hand: half-empty bags…… Continue reading To work with what you’ve got : Butternut squash curry