Thursday, September 29, 2005

The best laid plans…

Today over breakfast I gave myself a stern talking-to. “This is serious. You’ve got to be better about keeping a real work schedule, spending solid blocks of time on your research. No more getting distracted by the artichokes piled at the grocers or stopping for a pistachio granita with cream. You’re going to become a fat tenth-year graduate student…”. There’s not much chance of that, really, but when I create an emergency it’s easier to dump the cold coffee I’m still nursing and get out the door.
So, I chugged away contentedly in the library for my morning block of time, even postponed my lunch to find one more article I thought I could get through quickly. Emerging from the building I tried some funky maneuver to free my jacket from under my backpack – shrugged up my shoulders and yanked at the bunched jacket with one hand – and in the process felt my lower back recoil from the wrenching motion. Luckily, the spasm didn’t send me sprawling in pain, but it hurt enough to distort my face to a grimace and my poised stroll to a hobbledy-hobbledy-hobble.
A warm mortadella sandwich (yes, I had a baloney sandwich for lunch!) and two Advils later, I braved the walk home with my backpack loaded with books and my laptop. I couldn’t really do otherwise – returning the books to the library would mean I’d be home without work. Of course, the farmacies are closed for lunch so I couldn’t get a hot water bottle or compress. Woe is me!

Marta returns today? One never really knows with her. I’ve been wanting to fix a dinner for her and Alvise since she first announced arrival date as Monday. I was thinking about a tribute to New Orleans, with a rabbit etouffee as the main course: reasonably cheap ingredients, easy to find in Italy, not too complicated. They have funky crustaceans here too – things that are not shrimps and not lobsters – not really crayfish or prawns or langousteens either. And what exactly are scampi? They’re tasty, but how are they a different creature from the above? Life without my Larousse Gastronomique is so difficult!

Speaking of Larousse, it is lacking the richness of the vocabulary Italians have for varieties of fruits and vegetables. For example, I’ve been eating lots of plums: prugne, susine, gocci d’oro, settembrine, ecc. I think someone (ahem!) needs to get to work on an encyclopedia of Italian cuisine (and ask those California fruit geneticists why they’re creating monster ‘UFO’ peaches and ‘Dinosaur Egg’ plums when unbelievable varieties already exist here? with better names. I’m all for new hybrids, but those Dr. Frankenfruits will smack a trademark on any odd-shaped creature to double its price. Same with the heirloom fetishists, though).

For now I’m propped up comfortably with the laptop and a pile of books, daydreaming about having a goat farm and making artisanal cheeses. Super aged, sharp goat cheeses…


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