Thursday, June 12, 2008

Time To Cut The Cheese

Pecorino Romano, many say, smells like baby's barf. My father buys a 55 pound wheel every couple years. He buys one. My Uncle Charlie buys one. We drove over to Redwood City from Turlock yesterday to claim our wheel. Can you say, "I'd like to buy a vowel, Alex"? The fortune comes in the knowing that a 55 pound wheel of Pecorino Romano, at 8 bucks a pound, and after adding the sales tax, rings up at $479.16. My cousin Denise said she only brought nine hundred and fifty dollars with her to the deal that went down in San Francisco. Hey, did you know that San Francisco is both a city AND a county? Yeah. Cool, huh? For this reason, it can never expand geographically. Where was I? Oh yeah. Not enough money. She was ten bucks short. But the guy at the counter said, "Fuh-GET-uh-BOUT-it" and sent her on her way with her 110 pounds of cheese. Yeah, I'm in California again. I'm home. And once home, it's time to cut the cheese. So what, you might ask, does one use to cut the cheese? We're Sicilian, remember. What else? Piano wire...

This is my Uncle Charlie, eldest of the five Sicilian brothers, all born in New York prior to coming to California in 1940. My father says they stopped at a dairy on the way over and bought ice cold milk for 10 cents a gallon. Many dinners came about thanks to road-killed pheasants, rabbits, "whatever we came across, we barbecued it."

Uncle Charlie took me fishing in the ocean when I was very young. He smoked Cuban cigars. Turned me on to exotic foods (like those caterpillars in a can that came from Mexico) and he made GREAT red wine. He is 85.

We got a tour of the huge garden. That is my Aunt Amada. She is from Quito, Ecuador.

This is a tomato tree. Yes, a tomato TREE. They grow in Ecuador and they produce tomatoes just like the vine. I laughed and called my father right after seeing a sign in the produce section of the local market in Newport that read, "Vine Ripened Grapefruit." Don't be so quick to laugh when you start seeing signs reading, "Tree Ripened Tomatoes," because as Judy Tenuta would say, "It could happen."

The next day, ask Mr. Gawpo, Sr. and I were going through the photos from his brother's place, we looked at each other and said, "Dang. We shoulda brought some artichokes back." There were plenty that were in perfect shape. We did snag about four pounds of cherries, though. My father makes the best cherry brandy this side of Camporeale.