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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 …

dusty pianos (far from home)



Somehow I know that if I walk into the best restaurant in town, there will be a place at the bar for me. In between the thunder and the clouds I find the address and at the next seat is a woman with a fountain pen that has leaked all over her hands as she calculates the final grades for a class of tenth graders. The bartender is her friend and within minutes I am sipping a Dusty Piano, which is not on the menu. It has some barley whiskey and absinthe and many other ingredients. Sweet, sour, cool on my tongue I feel it wobble around my mouth as the sky grows dark.

I eat salami and homemade pickles, lamb chops with a sweet pea puree, and then a sticky toffee that is disappointing but the bartender slides a little glass of madeira to me and somehow this makes things right. I finish with a ginger sazerac. The woman grading papers has gone home. Alone at the bar in some odd corner of Boulder, Colorado the world seems suddenly minuscule and infinite at the same time.

The streets are wet from rain and I have had that perfect combination of two cocktails and a glass of wine and those extra sips of madeira that put me over the top. I am not drunk and but I am not sober and my belly hurts from trying to finish that dessert.

There are streets musicians playing gospel, with barefoot girlfriends traipsing around. A man with a superhero cape and some balloons tied to his hat stands next to me. I give them all of the change in my pocket. He stalks off into the rain. I might have put some rubles in their case by mistake but I say thank you and they say thanks man.

I think of my girls on the other side of the world, about how I am very far away from them and there is nothing I can do to change that. I find my way back to the hotel, set the alarm for very early so I can take pictures of some old bicycles or graffiti before the taxi to the airport.

The sky is huge here, and there is silent lightning without a sound, just flashes in the sky. A young man walks in front of me singing in a loud voice with his hands shoved in his pockets.

          Where is my tuna,
          right right now.
          Where is my tuna,
          right right now.

I know he is saying tuna, nothing else. I feel like I am back in college again.






Comments

David said…
"Far From Home"

Maybe that has grown on you a bit? I know what you mean. I would love to see the street musicians face when he picks up the coin and it's in cyrillic with a double headed eagle. Givin you are in Denver he probably thinks he toked on the Hookah a little much. Good post. Check your email.
ZuD funck said…
Transformational writing. Don't stop. You possess a gift, nurture it wisely. I will visit you again.

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