I like the word “pap”. I always relished the word most when Samuel Becket wrote it. There was something elemental in it. Pap. The glop the world is made from, the elemental slurry. It’s for when you have no teeth. Beginning or end. Amen.
So here we are, “bloggers” (a word I almost hate as much as I like the word “pap”) continuing a great journalistic tradition by descending like starving vultures upon the buffet table on the roof of the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte in Viareggio, a hotel overlooking the long stretch of beach promenade. The buffet was provided us, just so you know, and served elegantly as befits such a grand hotel, even to those in muddy jeans.
I can’t help but notice the neatly arranged martini glasses that bookend the groaning table. Inside them is our elemental, blood red substance, the elemental slurry from which cucina povera derives, pappa al pomodoro.
We are not all up to speed. “What is it?” a blogger asks.
“Ah, the chef has made for you some pappa al pomodoro” the man in the suit answers, except without the italics.
Which raises the question: why do we love this elemental food so much? I mean, we’re in an elegant setting in a hotel a huge number of the world’s people could not afford and we’re being served something largely made from stale bread! And we’re loving it!
This is so wrong, isn’t it?
I have my theories, of course. Can the bandits of the food contamination industry—monolithic flavor marauders like Monsanto I’m talking about—suck enough flavors out of food and bankroll the banning of heirloom seeds so that we’ll lose the God-given vitality of a world full of good things to eat, God’s gift to us, (or Mom Nature’s gift, depending)? And now, on our last journey as the earth crumbles beneath us, we’re gobbling up the last vestige of the natural goodness that the oil squeezed properly from an olive combined with a ripe red tomato and our old, stale bread can give us.
It’s sad, isn’t it? Soon (very soon!) we’ll be forced into gussying this recipe up, and the simple goodness of the elemental tomato and stale bread “soup” will be lost. You know, like the food channel makes it. 17 ingredients including (gasp!) pancetta. Yes, it needs flavor when you take the flavor out of the main ingredients.
Yes, the quest for “cheap food” is a scam. Don’t fall for it. Oh, wait, you already have, most of you I mean.
And, yes, our stay at the hotel was wonderful, and the pappa al pomodoro was exactly as promised. Rooms these days might not cost as much as you think. Check them out by comparing prices: Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, Viareggio, Italy
Find out more about the Versilia Blog Tour 2013 on the official Facebook page.