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.


At Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 7:42:00 PM PDT , Anonymous quilly said...

What a cheesy post!

If I pass you a plate of pasta will you smother it in marinara and a bit of that cheese?

At Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 7:46:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gillian said...

That's allotta cheese!!!!
Your dad's hair is as amazing as ever.
Caterpillars in a can? Now those I CAN'T communicate with!
I was saying to Mum today; Gawpo hasn't posted in over a month.
No, she said. I noticed that.
We had a moment of silence for you.
LO! The blogging angels whispered in your ear that it was time to post, haste.
I'd like to visit you one day and try the cherry brandy.

At Friday, June 13, 2008 at 12:33:00 AM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

QUILLY-POOH: Yes. Yes. I would pass you a lovely mound of pasta tossed in a marinara and then pass you the grater with the cheese perched atop for your own grating pleasure.

BLUE TSG (and MOB): Ha! That makes me smile big and wide. I have a package all bundled up with your name on it and a card signed on that one day I had time to run into the package place where the guy cut some cardboard so that the oddly shaped shapes could fit, but haven't had a day to get it to the post office. He said UPS wouldn't deliver to your north-of-the-border locale. Had to go USPS. I paid the man, threw my nose as high into the air as it could possibly go and with a loud "HMPF!" I marched out of that store, and DID let the door hit me in the ass on the way out. The NERVE! This miracle will come to pass. Oh, will come to pass.

And by the way, Deah Hawght---not quite a month. Go check those dates like a good little gull, now won't you?

Did I hear someone say they would like a taste of some cherry brandy??? Hmmmmmmm?????

Yeah!, indeed. w00t!


At Friday, June 13, 2008 at 9:28:00 AM PDT , Blogger Butch said...

I loved the demonstration on how to cut the cheese. Your uncle has such finesse with a final flair of the hands. Ecco!! That is a huge wheel of cheese. Does he divide it up among the family or store it in some cool place?

I loved the visit with your family. Many thanks.

At Friday, June 13, 2008 at 10:09:00 AM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

BUTCHERINO!: The cheese cutting guy with the cheese cutter is actually my dear old dad. The wheel gets divied up amonst us three kids and pops. A whole bunch goes into the walk-in for cooling.

Ecco! Senti.

At Friday, June 13, 2008 at 12:27:00 PM PDT , Blogger lime said...

that is the mother of all cheeses! what do you do with that much cheese? where do you keep it all? inquiring minds want to know!

At Friday, June 13, 2008 at 2:38:00 PM PDT , Blogger Logophile said...

Romano is lovely, and I don't care what it smells like, it tastes like HEAVEN.
It's so nice to see you round these here parts.

At Friday, June 13, 2008 at 11:53:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

LIMERS: Lovely to come home and find a big, fat pile of Limer word in the IM field. I picked through carefully and relished each and every word. I was on the road when you "called."

This much cheese gets doled out to the grandkiddlettes who are addicted to this particular cheese. The mother of the grandkiddlettes, my sis seven years my junior, when she was a wee lassie, ate so much of the stuff that she got plugged up. For days. My father had to resort to....uh....a hose of sorts to "cure" her of this painful malady. True story. We talk about it to this day. Funny how her children are lemmingly disposed.

PHOGOLILE: And you would know! I will fly you some, perhaps as soon as this Tuesday. Weather cooperating, I may be heading (but not beheading, as first typed!) your way. w00t! Pray to the god of gawd.

At Saturday, June 14, 2008 at 1:43:00 PM PDT , Blogger Greg said...

Oh, Gawpo, the that an artichoke flower?? I've never grown them, so I'm only guessing...but what a color!!

Nice to see a new post from you again!

At Sunday, June 15, 2008 at 4:51:00 AM PDT , Blogger somewhere joe said...

Your dad has such style, mon peaux... look at that flourish! I take it the piano wire was one of the sharps.

At Sunday, June 15, 2008 at 8:17:00 AM PDT , Blogger Cheesy said...

I just got home from the great tundra land to this post!
Please excuse me for a moment.. I have to go change to a thicker bra~~~~

Ok I am back.. sorry but the sight of that pecorino made my nips.... well I think you know....

Save a small slice of that nirvana and I'll make you some faboo little "crackers"- they are to die for! [or I can send the recipe but not as fun]

I MISS THE HECK out of calif chokes... I am so jealous!

Now.... pull my finger and I will really show you how to cut some cheese~~~

At Sunday, June 15, 2008 at 8:42:00 PM PDT , Blogger Butch said...

L'odorato e perche non? Hmmmmmmmmmmm..
Mille Grazie! ;-)

At Monday, June 16, 2008 at 3:31:00 PM PDT , Blogger Annie said...

Gawpo - are you still HERE????

At Monday, June 16, 2008 at 9:48:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

GREG: Yep. Perzackly. That's a 'choke goin' to seed. I mean, all they are is a big, fat thistle. I worked at a youth camp as a counselor and learned how to successfully eat bull thistle. You pull on those purples and the seeds come up with them. I have never tried it with artichokes. Crap! I keep forgetting. Anyway, the seeds are succulent. The heart of the bull thistle, raw, is also very tasty and nutritious. What a color, huh?

JEAUX: You know, Cindra and I compared notes over a recent phone conversation with both of us saying, "Yeah, what does he mean by that?" Ha! I just now got it. Yes, sharps. To marry the piano keys to the cheese. BRILLANT! You were playing to brains in the flats. But not for long. I have arrived. My father does dance when he does anything. He flairs. He flourishes.

CHEESEYDOODLEBABE: So happy am I to make your nips get all pokey. What a complement. Thank you, dearheart. In Spanish: "Jale mi dedo" equals...pull my finger.

BUTCH: Si! Si! Ecco! Prego, Butch! Prego!

ANNIE OF TURLOCK: So sad the recent news about what happened 10 miles out Bradbury Road. The real mind blower is that I was at that very spot now 48 hours prior to that bizarre and tragic event. I am so sorry that the toddler died. So very sad.

No, my dear. I have left. I am back in the land of 40 degree mornings, solid 1,200 foot overcast and driving, chilling winds out of the north along the beach. I miss Turlock. I wore my Turlock shirt and the pilot yelled, "Turlock!" He explained that two of his grandparents are buried in Turlock.

At Monday, June 16, 2008 at 10:24:00 PM PDT , Blogger Claire said...

Oh Gawpo, you're back! Yeah! I want to know more about the curious tomato tree. I love growing interesting new tomato varieties. Please do tell.

At Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 11:50:00 AM PDT , Blogger Annie said...

Dear G - Don and I sat in stunned horror as we listened to the news that night. This has to be THE most hideous thing I've heard of and that is saying a lot considering how badly too many children are treated these days. Had this gone to trial instead of ending as it had, a guilty sentence would have almost turned my head to an agreement with capital punishment. I think I need to drive out there with flowers and find the shrine. I'm sure one has started.

At Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 7:19:00 AM PDT , Blogger Candace said...

I love cheese, but I've never had Pecorino Romano. I'm sure it's better than Casu Marzu! ^_^ Though I guess that IS a type of pecorino.

The artichoke bloom is stunning when it's all biggified!

At Saturday, June 21, 2008 at 4:01:00 PM PDT , Blogger Cooper said...

Your Dad looks rather like Lionel Jeffries, the grandfather in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a movie I loved when I was a kid. He looks like he has glorious character, too.

My little Matteo, now aged 2, would rather eat cheese than chocolate. He even likes blue cheese, but his favourite is aged cheddar. I just may need a wheel that size by the time he is a teenager!

So good to see you back.

At Monday, June 23, 2008 at 10:04:00 PM PDT , Blogger Diesel said...

Holy crap, that's a lot of cheese.

At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 7:49:00 AM PDT , Blogger Lisa "Oceandreamer" S. said...

You were HERE, in California????? NOT all that far away from the Bay Area??? You mean you were HERE AND you're still blogging too? Forgive my sarcastic tone Sky King but it's been so dreadfully long and frankly....yes I'll say it...I have missed you so!
Look at all that!!! I could only admire it from afar....I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!What kind of Italian has lactose issues??
Hugs and kisses,

At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 12:41:00 PM PDT , Blogger Sicilian Mama said...

GAAAAAWPO! Your dad is so cute. And now I want a plate of pasta with alfredo and some of that lovely romano sprinkled on top.

Hope you're doing well!!!

At Friday, June 27, 2008 at 7:40:00 AM PDT , Blogger mindy said...

cheese sounds good. catapillars, not so much. so, what do you do with all that cheese??? recipes please.

At Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 2:55:00 PM PDT , Blogger Butch said...


Where are ya hidin'out?? Haven't seen you in these here parts for a blue moon . . . ( so much for my poor cowpoke impersonation. ) ;-)

At Friday, July 4, 2008 at 6:57:00 PM PDT , Blogger Butch said...

Happy 4th of July, Gawpo!

At Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 8:31:00 AM PDT , Blogger Pam Aries said...

You are so gouda! Havarti you do it? You even have a good friend named Blue! Anyway you slice it ...this is too cheesy and I 'm gonna have a melt down! Holy Swiss, Batman! Amyway..I am still stuck in the deep south due to BUS repairs before I even got out of this town!

At Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 1:32:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi mate, this is the canadin pharmacy you asked me about: the link

At Friday, July 11, 2008 at 1:58:00 PM PDT , Blogger Claire said...

bernard n. shull is a shill

Gawpo, where the heck did you go??

At Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 3:04:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

Oh,Claire: Yeah. Well, I WAS back, but got sucked into the overtime hole. Sigh....

My Ecuadorian Aunt tells me those tomato trees are typical in Quito. I am going to inquire further on this tree. Amazing, huh?

ANNIE FROM TURLOCK: Old news, that horrible slaying of the toddler on a stretch of road so familiar to peaceful drives on the way to the fishing hole in the San Joaquin River. So sad.

CANDACIA: The biggification of any flower can't but help to put it right there in yo face. You are a fellow cheese-o-phile, for sure, if you can eat something that many compare to baby barf. But I do love it.

COOPS: So sorry so tardy in making it back here. A little prod from the Joe kind helped.

I'm loving little Matteo's cheese affections. One of my niece's dumps heaping mounds of the pecorino on the pasta with just a smattering of sauce. But Matteo's love of bleu is something to applaud. I'm not even quite there yet!

DIESEL: Yeah, my dad was literally RIPON it apart.

LEEESUH OCEANDREAMUH!: Yes, 'tis true. I was THERE. But I do tend to stick close to family when I make it down there. Did I mention we got the cheese in Redwood City? Gulp...

I'm still lovin' you, Sweethawght.

Oh....and I have a bit of a story about our common friends who live down the Gibson Lane. You will want to call me. Or I will do the same. First one wins.

MAMMA SICILIANA!: Yes, my Daddyo is way cute. How about those mutton chops? Too much. But they are his trademark. He's even been cartooned several times. Funny, funny man.

I am doing well, but working too much. Must...pull....out.....

MINDANCE: Well, all you have to do is grate that stuff on anything pasta or anything soup and you will have your world light up like a Christmas tree. We grate copious amounts in fish soups, on cioppino for sure, and on cauliflower soup and all manner of soup. But it's a staple on the red sauced pasta.

BUTCH: Well, hello there, Pil-GRIM, ah-hyuh, ah-hyuh....(my best John Wayne. Sorry.)

I got Shanghaied by the work demons, Butch. Dang.

BUTCH: Happy 16th of July!!! (Oh, My, GAWD. Has it been that long???)

PAM ARIES: Hooty Hoo! Too bad about the hippie bus. And good puns on the cheese, by the way! GET YOUR BUNS OUT HERE!!!! The weather is getting good!

BERNARD N. SHULL: My very, very good friend Claire says you are a shill, so I am NOT going to reply to your comment. Good day, Sir. I SAID GOOD DAY!

Oh, CLAIRE: Thanks for the heads up on that Shull shill, Claire. Sheesh.

At Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 4:33:00 AM PDT , Blogger somewhere joe said...

Holy Pecorino... you're back! Break out the robes, rings, and some a dat prize veal. We're hungry!

At Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 12:07:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

SOMEWHERE JOE: All I have to say is: Prodigality has its rewards. The makeup Blogging is incredible.

Now which box-pen was that veal in, last time I saw him?...

At Friday, July 18, 2008 at 10:38:00 AM PDT , Blogger Cheesy said...

Headed that way... stil working all the massaive hours?? cripes...

At Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM PDT , Blogger Lisa "Oceandreamer" S. said...

I win......called you first...well I got the machine anyway. HOpe to hear from you, curiosity is mighty peaked!
Sending mushy hugs and kisses,
Hey- I have a new blog now!


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