Short Orders

Short Orders

by Marty Martindale

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781463417307
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 06/17/2011
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)

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SHORT ORDERS: Food Stories and Travels


By Marty Martindale

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2011 Marty Martindale
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4634-1730-7


Chapter One

RESTAURANT RITUAL

Habitual restaurant visitors are fascinating, sometimes mysterious.

Luigi Bartone was no longer married. Widower? Divorced? No one knew. One thing everyone knew was Luigi's mama did some very strange Italian cooking for him when he was young, and he still liked it very, very much.

At least five nights each week, Luigi showed up at Banjione's Café at exactly twenty after six. Angelo Banjione always saved the third booth from the rear for Luigi, who always sat facing the kitchen.

Every night he ordered the same dish—fettuccini cooked just under al dente. The only sauce he wanted was bittersweet chocolate, perfectly melted. Atop this, he needed eight whole, white anchovies. Once his dish arrived at the booth, it had to be a perfect temperature. Then Luigi would withdraw from his pocket a small plastic bag. In it were a tiny shaver and a piece of imported Fontina cheese. Very carefully, he created delicate cheese curls, which landed gently onto his anchovies, basking in the rich, rich chocolate. With his meal, he ate just one Enrico's anise biscotti, which he ceremoniously dipped into a glass of Angelo's best Barbera deep red wine.

Angelo said the name of the dish was called Fettuccini II Cioccolato y Boquerones. Luigi disagreed. That's why they never talked. This meal made Luigi very happy, which meant he was happy five nights a week, and Angelo's staff enjoyed making their faithful customer so happy so often.

"Winna-winna," Angelo would say.

One night Luigi arrived late. It was seven, and he brought a woman friend. He wore a coat and shirt and led her to the second booth, not his usual.

The woman seemed Italian. She was small and kept looking down. Was she his sister? Everyone wanted to know, but knew they wouldn't find out. Luigi rarely spoke to anyone.

Angelo ordered for his companion as if they had discussed it beforehand. She would have Walnut Oil Pesto with Red Swiss Chard over Linguini, very al dente and topped with chopped almonds, no cheese. No bread. No wine. Only water.

For some reason, Luigi did not order his usual.

"Bring me Ruote Wheels, lotsa olive oil and meat marinara, no topping, no cheese, no bread, no wine, only water."

They did not talk as they waited. They hardly look at one another. He wiped his mouth nervously, unnecessarily and often.

She examined her fingernails minutely. They each sipped water occasionally.

Three or four weeks went by and Luigi Bartone never came in for his usual Cioccolato y Boquerones. Angelo began reading the obituaries looking for Luigi Bartone, but didn't find him there. He even asked his staff if anyone knew where Luigi lived. No one did.

Seven months later, the stern little woman, the one who ate Walnut Pesto with Luigi, came in alone and sat in Luigi's third booth from the rear. She faced the kitchen and ordered Fettuccini Cioccolato y Boquerones, one Anise Enrico Biscotti and a glass of Angelo's best Barbera, only she brought her own imported, rosewood handled truffle shaver plus her own imported Fontina. She carefully made thin little curls of the cheese, which sifted down onto the very dark chocolate, over the white anchovies, over the chocolate, over the fettuccini. She became a Monday evening regular.

After six months, the little woman quit coming in for her fettuccini. Angelo couldn't check the obituaries for her name. He also didn't need to stock bittersweet chocolate anymore.

FEASTING IN RIO CIRCA 1980

When slaves' "feast of necessity" goes first-class

Rio had a very strong sense of when the world seemed much larger and money was far more plentiful. Kings, princes, presidents and world celebrities flocked down to Rio to romp and frolic in a new playground for many glitzy decades. Rio was and is a dramatic cultural experience.

Bold mosaic sidewalks and broad avenues rim the landmark beaches of Rio, Ipanema and Leblon. Automatically associated with these beaches is constant tanga-tugging and skin-oiling, which accentuates Brazil's already diverse pigmentation. Rio's beaches are also settings for ball games, courtship, children playing and business meetings.

Probably one of the most pleasant gastronomic experiences anywhere was a good hotel's breakfast buffet. We combined fresh tropical juices—pineapple, guava, mango, persimmon, tamarind, passion fruit, orange juice and coconut water. We ate delicate manioc crepes with delicious fillings and homemade breads topped with fresh fruit preserves or cajuada jam made from cashew fruit. We fixed our full-bodied Brazilian coffee many ways.

Feijoada was originally, the food of slaves, a hearty meal of animal organs separated from the better cuts of meat for Sunday's Churrasco. Over time, Feijoada evolved to a Saturday afternoon feast for everyone. A favorite was served each Saturday atop the Caesar Park Hotel on Impanema Beach. It started with a special meat broth seasoned with herbs. Next, the traditional buffet of black beans, beef organs, cured meats, sausages, tongue, pig's ears, tails and totter. This was served with white rice, fried manioc flour, kale, hearts of palm, oranges, hot peppers and a groaning dessert table. Soft drinks, beer or Caipirinhas accompanied. Elegant ladies dined well on the hotel rooftop, confiding lustily to friends and confidants.

The Caipirinha is Brazil's national drink. It is a mixture of raw sugar (crushed in a pestle), a liberal amount of cachaca (a rum distilled from sugar cane) and a generous amount of fresh lime juice.

In keeping with Rio's cosmopolitan tradition, the Copacabana Palace presented its famous, specially hosted high tea late Saturday afternoon. Scrumptious little sandwiches and tiny highly frosted cakes went very well with the live chamber music—a sharp contrast to the teaming beach just across the street.

Saturday night, Scala, then Rio's "greatest show house in Latin America," was a great place to be. The show was an extravagant re-enactment of Rio's own carnival, Bahian rituals and northeastern Brazil folk customs.

Midday Sunday, before Churrasco, we caught the Hippie Fair, where beautiful Bahian women from the state of Salvador served delicious street food, Acaraje, a fried bean curd cake with shrimp, tomatoes, coconut milk, fresh coriander and hot peppers. The flea market contained interesting gems and junk and quite a few chances to meet artisans selling their creations. An etched silver bottle-opener necklace/medallion was a find!

The Sunday Churrasco is just as ceremonial as Feijoada, but the cuts of meats are the best, including flame-broiled, sizzling beef, lamb, pork, sausages and chicken. Every meat was cooked in all degrees of "doneness," and seemingly endless streams of waiters sliced meat off their skewers onto our plates. A huge salad bar with more of hearts of palm accompanied, and a generous dessert table closed out the feast.

Stay until you can eat no more.

Down some Caipirinhas, too!

COCONUT RITE OF PASSAGE

Not just food, but so much more!

Tito was a proud father and frequently said to his son, Ado, "When you are sixteen, I will take you to your own island. You will have everything you need for a good life."

Ado heard this all his young life and felt fortunate. These times would put a tear in his mother's eye. She had taught him how to grind coconut flour, make coconut fry cakes and coconut porridge. Ado didn't like cooking much; however, he knew it was important for him to learn.

The eve of Ado's sixteenth birthday, his father packed the family's dugout canoe with fish line and fish hooks. Early the next morning, he also hitched another dugout canoe to it. He and Ado hugged his weeping mother and took off to seek Ado's island.

"It must be high enough for the tides," his father said, "and it must have several coconut palms on it. This is all you will need to survive."

Ado wasn't sure what "survive" meant. However, he remained silent, listening carefully to every word his father said.

They paddled all day, all night and well into the next day. Then Tito circled an island, he circled it three more times.

"I like this island for you," he said. "It is perfect. It has good trees, good shade and also some good slope."

They went ashore, and Tito carefully paced it off.

They unloaded all of Ado's possessions and carried them to the middle of the small island where there was good shade.

When Tito left the chosen island, he hugged his son. "You will have a wonderful life. When you are eighteen, a young woman will arrive, and you can start your family.

"Remember, your coconut trees will always take care of you. Always," his father said loudly and very seriously.

Ado settled in, confident what his father told him would see him through. He also knew, thanks to the coconut trees, his "Tree of Life," he had sufficient food and drink, vessels and clothing, heat and shelter for himself and his family for the rest of their lives. They would also have all the rope, soap, lotions, wine, textiles, baskets, weapons for defense, utensils, building materials and even musical instruments they would ever need thanks to the generous coconut tree. Further, their diet would never lack for protein, amino-acids, potassium, sodium, magnesium or sulfur.

One thing he would never know is that he and his family would never be bothered by intestinal disorders, dry cough, urinary problems, or skin disorders, because he and his family had never experienced them either!

Life was good!

ACME BEAUTY GRADUATION DAY

Biotin is their secret.

Beauty is a very serious thing in Belle Beau, as looking nice is ever so important.

And, so it follows, Acme Beauty Academy is an important and hallowed institution in Belle Beau. As the town has no other institution of higher learning, Acme is elevated even more. This is a low-income town, and when its children aspire to a beauty "degree," it's a family honor. It's also a huge family financial commitment.

So, it's no little wonder the annual commencement exercises for Acme are a huge event, so much so that the downtown movie theater is reserved every year for graduation ceremonies. As early as 1:00 p.m., families form a line outside the Bijou Theatre for the two o'clock event. Graduates-to-be line up to the left of the ticket window, the parents lined up to the right. At exactly 1:55 pm, their parents enter and quickly seat themselves.

The very highly-coiffed students enter next, very excited, very nervous and very stunning. They are conspicuous by their extreme hairstyles—long hair lacquered into stiff, sculpted positions, intense and extremely eye-catching.

Besides their education and qualification for a degree, they have one other thing in common. They all take daily mega-doses of biotin, a vitamin B supplement, which delivers the equivalent of oodles and oodles of liver and egg yolk nutriments to their bodies. This is supposed to encourage hair health (growth) and nail health (growth.) Part of their education, however, is not to promote biotin as something that will bring about long hair. So, they believe in it, but promise not to recommend it to customers.

When the stage lights up, the theatre darkens and the crowd becomes still, Dr. Andrew Hillerman, owner of Acme, steps to the podium.

"Have you ever thought," he begins, "that if no one cut their hair for ten years, the world might tilt a little more, maybe a lot, from the new weight? It could ... we don't know. What we do know is that you have worked very hard to be here today at Acme Hair Academy's Graduation. This means you have taken on a difficult vocation and certified that you are in control of yourself and care for your client's deepest styling wishes."

All the stunningly-coifed graduate candidates rise to their feet. They whistle, they clap and they shout "Yo" in heated response.

"Think about hair for a moment," he continues. "Most European women have long hair, and they wear it back or up for work and out on the street. Younger American women, for the most part, follow the same habit, maybe wearing it down more often. And, it is likely that burka-clad Arabic women have long, beautiful hair as well. Most women with long hair let it down with all abandon, as they change gears and become the tigers their men want in the bed at night! Hair signals many roles! We know that."

Again, the excited graduates rise up with huge applause with fives and bumps.

"Long hair was a powerful tool for Lady Godiva, as well," he continues. Back in 1079, she rode her horse, bareback, wearing no clothes, through the English marketplace. She knew her extremely long hair would cover her body. She was demonstrating for lower taxes. Their ruler was her husband. It worked.

"Back to our modern day, it is possible to make a lot of money in the beauty business. Always examine TV anchors; check the Emmys, Oscars and all Hollywood events for new hair trends. Your patrons want you to challenge them with new styles and dare them to turn men's heads. You are powerful in a very powerful industry ... a trendsetter! Take this seriously."

The whole crowd rises to their feet with more bumping and fiving, yelling with joy as they glimpse a rosy future.

"Yes, it falls to you to increase your own clientele by making your patrons style leaders in their neighborhoods, their offices and their social gatherings. Pile it up, twirl it around or do half-ups, half-downs. Arrange new, crooked parts for them. Create long, dangling curls. Poof it up, poof it again, then let it bound back down. How sexy! Color it with streaks, stripes, hazes, touches of gray. Their bangs—create them, divide them, iron them, curl them, tease them. Talk them into the bright colors—oranges, greens and purples. They are all exciting. Hair is always exciting. These are the days of interesting wisps, face framers, layers of wisps, counter-layers of wisps—put some up, train some down, make them loners, iron them in unusual and opposing directions.

"Get on out there, all of you. You are powerful. Make yourselves rich and the world more beautiful!"

Dr. Hillerman steps away from the podium, arms raised high. The crowd rises in highest jubilation, arms stretched high, as beams of excitement spark from their eager eyes.

Annual refreshments are unlimited—champagne and wave-shaped ham salad finger sandwiches.

(Traditionally, Acme graduates wear no graduation caps, only gowns.)

A JUG, A MEAL AND A POEM

The land provided everything but the vino.

We always had a great time when we visited J. Robey Ward and his wife, Vera Mae. They had a retirement job of guarding their part of the ranch fence for the Lykes Steamship family. Their rent was free and in probably one of the most beautiful spots in Florida's Everglades.

The Wards knew each other all their adult lives, though married to different spouses. Once they found themselves alone, they tied their own knot. He, a retired Veterans Administration chaplain, spent his days publishing poetry. They were greatly in love.

And they made life in the Everglades a whole lot of fun. First, you could not reach them without accessing them via many miles of a dirt road, intersected twice by locked fences, which J. Robey would unlock when he expected you. The creek was but twenty feet from their well-designed outdoor home. They needed four living rooms, for it was winter, and the sun warmed from many different directions.

Their bedroom was the interior of an old Nash Rambler. Their particular model turned itself into a generous-sized bed. The backseat shelf and car rooftop became their sundries spaces, and at their age, they needed many. A city-type toilet seat sat supported by boards and mostly hidden by key bushes. Their kitchen little more than a couple of card tables and some cardboard boxes for cupboards.

Guest mealtime was always the same. After J. Robey unlocked the fences, he'd fell a prime swamp cabbage. Vera Mae took over seasoning it "her way" and cooked it soft in her pressure cooker on a kerosene hotplate. We always brought the usual, a gallon jug of Carlo Rossi's Rhine white.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from SHORT ORDERS: Food Stories and Travels by Marty Martindale Copyright © 2011 by Marty Martindale. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

RESTAURANT RITUAL Habitual restaurant visitors are fascinating, sometimes mysterious....................1
FEASTING IN RIO CIRCA 1980 When slaves' "feast of necessity" goes first-class....................5
COCONUT RITE OF PASSAGE Not just food, but so much more!....................9
ACME BEAUTY GRADUATION DAY Biotin is their secret....................13
A JUG, A MEAL AND A POEM The land provided everything but the vino....................19
SHAMAN'S SAVVY It took a bonfire feast to pull it off....................23
BELGIUM'S ACCIDENT-PRONE HORTICULTURIST How a new vegetable was born....................27
CAN-DO CHEF Food is yeoman's work....................31
CARVIN' THE BIRD What would a family gathering be without food?....................35
FIRST-TIME NUDIE When food takes a back seat....................43
BUCKET LIST CROSSING Poseidons and fresh fish from Portuguese waters....................47
COMMERCIAL FOR A SALMON DINNER Foods and their boxes....................51
CULINARY ALCHEMY There will always be new things to do with food....................53
DEMONSTRATION DEBBIE Vegetarian convert....................57
CULINARY SUITE Better be glad most recipes are tested....................61
DINNER AT BARNEY'S What's a good soup kitchen without fresh-baked bread for dunking?....................65
DOGGY BAG LADY Meal planning in a restaurant....................73
FOR FANS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES' "WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS" Petit fours at four at Foggy Bottom....................77
FORAGING WITH THE WILDMAN New York's bountiful patch of greenness....................81
INTERNATIONAL PINEAPPLE FRENZY Awestruck by a fruit....................85
GREEK ISLAND MEMORY MAKING Something about a Mediterranean waterside café....................89
GIBRALTAR'S COMFORT FOOD Wars forge permanent eating habits....................91
GOOD LIFE MOUSE A bit to eat and a place to hide....................95
GREEK TO TAMPA BAY Potato salad mystery solved!....................97
HAGGIS ON TRIAL She knew he was right, but she did it, anyway....................101
HAPPY KITTEN DIARY The milk of human kindness....................105
NEVER A LIFELONG FULLBACK Running a popular restaurant makes one "sort of a star"....................109
JAYSON'S PARENTS Too little food can ruin things....................113
JAZZ BREAKFAST A Big Easy, pre-Katrina reflection....................117
LOLA'S CHAGRIN Food will keep one alive Sex won't....................121
INFERNO SIMPLY WAITING Contrasts in fine cruising....................125
LUNCH BREAK LET-DOWN And a carry-out detour....................129
LOVE SONG TO A GRILLED CHEESE So gooey!....................133
MANICURISTS' SECRETS Food and a tip will usually do it....................135
MISSISSIPPI MUD-MOUTH Jes' good eatin'....................139
MASCARPONE MONDAYS Too much of a yummy thing....................143
NO BAGGAGE Strange dining acquaintances....................147
MILLION-DOLLAR REFINERY Food processing most simplified....................151
MORNING PERFORMANCE Weekly supper celebration....................155
MR CHIN'S EGG ROLLS Cultural food bump....................159
VICTORY SAUCE Necessity is almost always the mother of intention....................163
RHODE ISLAND FRIENDS OF THE GOVERNOR The corn smut disaster....................165
SAMPLING THE GOOD LIFE Fine living gets complicated....................169
SHARED COMMUNION How ho-hum snacks can derail anonymity....................173
SOMETHING FROM THE NYOTAIMORI? The world's never-ending quest for unusual serving trays....................177
SUPERBOWL IS EATING TIME! TV tells us to spend big bucks on treats We do it....................181
WE COOKED MEXICAN! It is possible to organize a bunch of novices and still get things done....................183
TATTOO TABOO Different cravings for different folks....................185
THE BUSH DOCTOR WHO WROTE IT DOWN Cures can be very simple....................189
THE CHUTNEY MAKER Such latitude!....................193
THOMAS JEFFERSON, THE FOODIE PRESIDENT He grew it, he enjoyed it, but he never cooked it....................197
THE WEDDING PARTY Good scarfing is so much fun....................201
THOSE ITALIANS AND THEIR BRIGHT-COLORED GELATOS Smoother and can have less calories....................207
THREE-IN-ONE DINNER PARTIES So many special occasions demand menu repetition....................211
THE SOUTHWEST'S OWN FOOD Fred Harvey's girls made the chili express happen....................215
TRIATHALON, THE CAKE Cooking always looks good on anyone's qualifications list....................219
TURKISH DELIGHT Even whirling dervishes eat....................225
WHEN FABRIZIO'S IN THE HOUSE While some speak in parables, Fabrizio speaks in recipes....................229
HE PLANS THE BEST PICNICS! "And, he thought she was so perfect!"....................235
ZUCCHINI POWER Bet you can't grow just two!....................241
FOR FANS OF IRON CHEF AMERICA Food frenzy dramatized....................243

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