Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

I had no idea Leonardo di Vinci was a chef while he was working under Verrocchio. He also wrote Kitchen Notebooks. I don’t think Alton Brown would appreciate his unitasker culinary inventions, never mind their deadliness. “His invention for a giant whisk twice the size of a man involved an operator from within who was constantly in danger of being whisked into the sauce.” In his book, Leonardo also discussed table etiquette, including the protocol for assassinating someone at dinner. Too bad the books are so pricey.

What’s keeping Americans out of their kitchen? More than half don’t cook because their spouse handles the cooking, but 28% stay out of the kitchen because they don’t know how to cook. So sad. One of the other common excuses is really lame; you’ll know the one I mean when you read the article.

I’m a bit of a fish geek. Growing up in Massachusetts I was intrigued by the tough guy fishermen who earned a living on the sea. I was fascinated and a bit grossed out by the big bulging-eye fish on ice in the seafood market. When I ended up managing a McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant I wrote the “fish book” for our opening training school. Unfortunately my hours of reading and writing are lost on a floppy disc in a landfill somewhere, but that fascination stayed with me. Even if you’re not a fish geek, this video tracking a tagged tuna all over and across the Atlantic is pretty cool.

Darn, we’re out of Parmesan. Wait, let me use my pencil. What the what? Yup, you heard me correctly, check out these edible Parmesan pencils. If they ever make these for the U.S. market, they will be the ultimate Christmas stocking stuffer.

Do you run your dishwasher during the day or night? The Kitchn explains why it’s better to run the dishwasher late at night. Makes sense.

Before we get to this week’s beautiful poem, enjoy Vincent Price as Fortunato Luchresi and Peter Lorre as Montresor Herringbone in a wine tasting competition in this video of The Black Cat from Tales of Terror.

Neruda understood the majesty of the tuna.

Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market by Pablo Neruda

Here,   
among the market vegetables,
this torpedo
from the ocean   
depths,   
a missile   
that swam,
now   
lying in front of me
dead.
 
Surrounded
by the earth’s green froth   
—these lettuces,
bunches of carrots—
only you   
lived through
the sea’s truth, survived
the unknown, the
unfathomable
darkness, the depths   
of the sea,
the great   
abyss,
le grand abîme,
only you:   
varnished
black-pitched   
witness
to that deepest night.
 
Only you:
dark bullet
barreled   
from the depths,
carrying   
only   
your   
one wound,
but resurgent,
always renewed,
locked into the current,
fins fletched
like wings
in the torrent,
in the coursing
of
the
underwater
dark,
like a grieving arrow,
sea-javelin, a nerveless   
oiled harpoon.
 
Dead
in front of me,
catafalqued king
of my own ocean;
once   
sappy as a sprung fir
in the green turmoil,
once seed
to sea-quake,
tidal wave, now
simply
dead remains;
in the whole market
yours   
was the only shape left
with purpose or direction
in this   
jumbled ruin
of nature;
you are   
a solitary man of war
among these frail vegetables,
your flanks and prow
black   
and slippery
as if you were still
a well-oiled ship of the wind,
the only
true
machine
of the sea: unflawed,
undefiled,   
navigating now
the waters of death.
 
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