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I believe in artichokes

Italy did ruin me. After that first trip I came back disgusted by bodega coffee, which now smelled of old socks. Before, it was just fine. I rolled my eyes at red sauce joints, detouring old standbys like a stranger. If eating can be seen as a religious or spiritual experience I had been to the mountain. In time I would return on pilgrimages, always holding the simple pleasures in my thoughts.  An artichoke, methodically fried in good olive oil, with some salt. Black truffles, good butter and fresh pasta twisting around the back of a fork. A very cold and tiny glass of porto bianco sipped in a Genoa bar, with my friend Federico. A man cleaning sardines on a block of wood in the street. A woman selling green figs that she wraps into a newspaper cone. I have thousands of these memories, these artifacts. But I live in Moscow, where there has been an embargo for years now, and there is no population that expects perfect mounds of fresh cheese. They ship powdered palm oil here, that gets …

Cracker Jack

Carrying E home in my arms, on a wet rainy night I stopped and rested against a ledge. Her face hid in my coat. I watched raindrops splattering on my shoes, in puddles on the cobblestones. I thought about a dream I had a lot when I was her age.

I am in a small boat in the center of a clean white lake. Objects that looked a bit like Cracker Jacks are popping up all around me in the milky water. Its surface is covered with the carmel corn, and then they all turn black.

The dream would repeat itself, and I would sit perfectly still, watching from the little boat. I did not cry out, as they was no one there to hear me. I did not struggle as I knew the burnt candies would always smother me.

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