I hope my French title is correctly spelled and grammar-ed. I left my lesson worksheet at work... I'm now learning French via podcast! Yesterday I sat in my office repeating French phrases and likely sounding a bit loony to all colleagues and students walking down the hall. The first lesson included such helpful phrases: yes, no, how are you? i am well, i am very well, i am not well, i am in good form, and you?
Why am I learning French in haste? I'm in the early stages of planning a mini-study abroad/continuing ed course that would focus on the American Ex-Pat writers in Paris, mainly in the Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Wharton years. I'm planning on applying for a grant to fund a brief site visit this summer and therefore need to have at least rudimentary language skills. If my summer trip comes to pass, I will most definitely need a travel companion or two or three...please feel free to volunteer yourself:)
Last night I had the most scrumptious pasta in recent history. The honors of best Italian restaurant are shared between Trattoria Stefano, Trattoria Stella, and Cafe Spiaggia as to which restaurant has my favorite pasta. For now, Stefano is pulling ahead because of their geographical proximity, the warm ambience, and their (still giant) half portions of pasta.
After work yesterday I drove to She-town for two hours of bliss (i.e. highlights and haircut), and then walked into crowded Il Ritrovo for pizza. Because it was so busy I would have to wait even to eat at the bar, the host suggested I walk across the street to Stefano, where I could also order pizza if I wanted. The warm atmosphere, small tables with flickering candle light, and hushed patrons created immediate intimacy. I settled down at a round high table beside the bar and ordered half a glass of red wine (my new trick so I can imbibe with my meal and still be able to drive home). My mista salad (described in previous entries, I'm sure) arrived almost instantly. The salad is evolving with the seasons...now it includes small slices of young pecorino, which I usually am not overly fond of, but this non-aged variety was mellow enough to offset the barnyard tang.
I abandoned my platonic ideal of pizza when I read the menu: instead, I settled on a half order of rigatoni con mozzarella. Simplicity: rigitoni, cooked perfectly al dente, with a san marzano sauce, thin slivers of garlioc, parm, basil, and fresh mozzarella. I don't know how they manage to produce such amazing foods that I nearly make a spectacle of myself. When the host from across the street walked in, he stopped by to see how I was enjoying my dinner. I'm almost ashamed to say that I did not at all disguise my utter culinary bliss.
Here's the magic of a fine meal: my imagination is fired, my idealism returns, hope triples, and my heart expands to include everyone and everything that had previously fallen aside with the daily grind of disillusionment. Eating well can be truly transformative, and I pledge myself to making everyday foods and moments so spiritually elevating.
Thinking of Amanda Hesser's dear Mr. Latte (who misguidely orders lattes after 11am), I ordered a decaf espresso, which was bracing and just the tonic to cut through the heady dreaminess of my meal and set me back in reality and ready to drive home, my hair stylishly coiffed, my tummy happily fed, and my soul expanded.