Today we drove up the winding hill to Podenzana. Podenzana is a funny place. It’s like there’s no “there” there. There are houses scattered along the road, then you get a glimpse of a church near the serpentine asphalt that’s making you queasy, then a miniature municipio appears somewhere along the line. Not much substance. But then you come upon six or eight enormous restaurants. It’s like they were making a city and all the builders got together and said, “what this place needs is a restaurant.” So they each made at least one while ignoring the job of building houses.
And every danged one of those restaurants serves this bread thing we call panigacci. It’s a specialty of Podenzana. And on Sunday you couldn’t get a table at one of these restaurants if you had a 100 Euro note stapled to your forehead and pointed to it when you asked about availability.
So on Thursday in early spring you go to the top rated restaurant called La Gavarina d’Oro and order panigacci for two, one with salumi and one with stracchino, a soft cheese, and you order some Gorgonzola because you feel like some mold, and the above is what you get.
In the basket are the panigacci cooked over an open fire on a testa, a teracotta plate.
Then you notice that the trio at the neighboring table have ordered a chiodo di maiale as well.
So you do too.
Now, a chiodo di maiale is what the workers who are slaughtering your pig get to eat while they’re busy grinding the thing up to make salami. You just take a little of the salame before you stuff it into the intestines and put it in a terracotta testa and cook it up. It’s over there—>
Now, here’s the thing. You can put some meat on your panigacci and fold it in half and eat it like a taco. That’s perfectly fine. Or if you are one of those reprobates who refuses to eat meat, you can slather on some of that soft cheese and do the same thing.
BUT, if you are American, you have no such rules.
Yes, we Americans are a funny bunch. Given something good and simple and wholesome, we gotta improve on it, which usually means adding a bunch of stuff until you have a new flavor that nobody has ever experienced before—and doesn’t necessarily want to. We are like 4 year olds with our first chemistry sets and our parents are out of town so there’s no need to read the directions or use the “recipes”.
So, we can think up cool stuff like the iPad, then have it made where they are good at actually making things by the recipe. China.
Or we look at the olive oil and vinegar Italians put on their salads and say, “gosh, that’s too simple!” So we add sugar because its addictive and we have gotten lots of it from awful hot countries where people work for a few cents a day, then we ask Monsanto what we should use for oil because olive oil is too darned expensive and they tell us to squeeze some genetically modified corn and use the squeezings for oil, so we do. And then we have all this other crap nobody wants to eat—like dried bell peppers—and we add that to get rid of it because it clogs the enormous toilet they tried to use to flush the stuff—and finally we call the whole mess “Italian Salad Dressing” so as to make Italians look goofy.
It is with that thought in mind I introduce the product of the decade.
The Luniburger, or Lunigiana Hamburger for you wordy types, consists of BOTH a patty of chiodo di maiale and a very generous smear of BOTH cheeses, gorgonzola AND stracchino. “Holy-moly,” I hear you say.
That’s it on the right. The picture of the Luniburger 1.0 isn’t so hot, since I used Martha’s puny little camera which seems to have the Homeland Security Virus (HSV), in which the camera can’t focus on anything unless it’s your fingerprints, as you can see if you click the picture because it will make the picture so big you can read my fingerprints clearly. I suspect this picture goes right to the office of the Homeland Security folks. Anyway, you get the oozy effect. It’s a good ‘wich. Eating two of these will give you the strength to resist eating salad dressing with sugar. You’ll have to make your own. It’s way hard, with two ingredients and all, so I won’t even give you the recipe.
Because we real Americans don’t do recipes. You knew that, right?