Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bev is on a diet.

A Hilton desk clerk took a photo of me yesterday with Diana and Adele. When I saw it, I freaked. I knew I was getting heavy, for this is what sloths do when under intense professional pressure and given the challenge of a punch-card from Bagel Bakery, but I was completely caught off guard by my inability to create a flattering angle for that photo. Say, like standing behind a sofa or posing way off in the distance. Like in another county.

I can no longer whine, “My head’s just too small.” Or “I’m perfect weight … for someone 6’7”. I’m just too short.” Or “It’s an optical illusion created by hanging around with slender friends.”

After a month of eating pasta and being chained to my desk, I am not really surprised that I have bypassed “obese,” “morbidly obese,” and “super morbidly obese,” and gone straight to “sasquatch.”

I’ll let you know how the weight loss progresses, but I don’t want to reveal the starting tonnage. (Please don’t go into “comments” and guess. This will only strain our friendship.) To give us all a starting point, I found a numerology Web site and typed in SASQUATCH. From the resulting number 28, we’ll begin decrementing. And by the way, numerology also did a nice little character assessment. I left off all the negative attributes. Let’s pretend for the moment that they don’t exist, and if they do, they’re neither hideous nor shockingly spot-on.




You entered: sasquatch
There are 9 letters in your name.
Those 9 letters total to 28
There are 3 vowels and 6 consonants in your name.
Your number is: 1

The characteristics of #1 are: Initiating action, pioneering, leading, independent, attaining, individual.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday night dinner OUT!

Yesterday, after a long afternoon meeting that spilled over into the evening, my two darling writing-conference-partners and I decided to have dinner together before going home. Because I had not eaten out since Project La Cucina Italiana, I was suddenly seized by the possibilities of something different. Gainesville has a gazillion restaurants, so anything was going to be fine with me. I let them choose.

They wanted to go out for pizza.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our marriage is in trouble.

Dinner was the prelude to a disturbing evening. I'm supposed to be blogging about running, but we've drifted into Italian food, so we'll just get that over with and get on to the evening (which is how I usually think of dinner anyway). Tonight I waltzed to the table with plates of linguine nestled in creamy, citrus-flavored sauce so subtle and mysterious that we were halfway through it before we could figure out which flavor was gerbil-chervil and which was sauteed orange zest. It doesn't photograph well, but it tasted better than it looks. Pretty good in an exotic (yet artery-clogging) way!
Spaghetti Scented with Orange

And then like Dr. Jekyll and Pasta Hyde, the evening took a strange turn ...

After dinner my adoring Michael, who last night affirmed that I was a goddess forevermore, offered to take me in his truck to a warehouse store to stock up for the Anhinga Writers’ Studio Summer Workshops next week. What a good guy.

Still flushed with love and linguine and concerned by the sheer bulk of my purchases, he then generously offered to let me borrow his truck next week so that I could take all our conference stuff to the Hilton without having to make multiple trips in my bitty Honda.

I was touched, but hesitant. He drives a Ford F-150. It’s like an aircraft carrier with car keys and a Gator decal. Worse, it’s his baby. I told him that I would need to practice a little in order to feel confident in docking the Saratoga at the Hilton.

So three miles from home, he pulled over and with a flourish, turned it over to me. Fearlessly, I slid behind the wheel and threw it into gear. I glanced at Michael.

His face said, “You go, girl.”


I pulled out into traffic anyway. From outside the truck, the drive home was perfection itself. But inside the truck, it was another matter altogether. Michael Browning was slowly decompensating. The man can hold a beating human heart in his hand and not even break a sweat, but put Bev behind the wheel of his truck and he loses his mind in six of the longest minutes of his life.

I won’t describe it. But I will tell you that I parked halfway up the driveway, got out, and walked the rest of the way to the house. A goddess can only take so much.

He has been sitting out there in his darkened truck since we arrived home. I watch him from the window. His forehead is pressed against the steering wheel. They’re both safe and happy again.

Tomorrow night I’m ordering Chinese.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Anniversary Blog

I realize that it’s bizarre to blog on the evening of one’s anniversary, but the simple truth is that I have discovered the Holy Grail of recipes and it would be morally wrong for me to keep this to myself.

This will only take a sec.

Besides, Michael is occupied in making lists of ways to worship me, gifts to buy me, vacation spots to take me, and ways to express his adoration. (I think I'm getting a pony!) It’s not me, really. After THIS meal, any cook's grateful partner would be making lists.

Tonight’s dinner did it. This was a meal so sublime that we should bronze the leftovers.

Maiale con Puré di Pere e Mirtilli
Pork Chops with Pear and Blueberries

Darlings, listen to Bev VERY carefully. Click the link, print this recipe, prepare this dish, and serve it to the person you love most in the world. Tonight.

This dish is so luscious, so sensuous, so smooth and sweet and soft and scrumptious that beyond Michael’s plate, more than three decades of time melted away from my side of the table. All the years that have engraved themselves into my face. All the tough stuff and sad stuff and stupid stuff of life.


For one hour, I was his bride again. I could see it in his eyes. I could hear it in his laugh.

Blueberries and pears in wine sauce on pork. That’s all it took.

Our dinner hours have been transcendent and magical. We laugh and share stories and make plans and love each other over plates of food. Who knew? Project La Cucina Italiana was supposed to be a gift from the first of the month through tonight, but after tonight I clearly understand that food is love in more ways that I could have known. There’s no stopping me now.

Besides, we haven’t tried sautéed gerbil yet …

Gotta go now. I have no idea how long "grateful" can last. (wink)

Tomorrow we run! (I said this was luscious. I didn’t say it was low cal.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Before we begin tonight’s blog on the Kenyan Runner’s nightly desecration of the culinary heritage of Italy, we must address the delicate issues involving my accidentally overdosing Michael Browning on prunes last night.

Monday dinner, as you know, was a dramatic turning point in Project La Cucina Italiana: when Michael suddenly realized that there’s a fine line between a chef and a felon. I thought it was a little overly dramatic to screech his chair back up against the wall, point to my beautiful dish, and declare it to be the unholy pasta version of attempted manslaughter. As an upstart chef, one never wants to hear the word “apocalyptic” applied to one’s artistry. And yet …

Last night was so ugly.

Deeply concerned about Michael today, I phoned him in the midmorning to see how he was feeling. He seemed to be fine. When I discreetly inquired (using euphemisms, for we are Southern), he gave no details of his personal digestion, citing medical confidentiality and HIPAA violation. He IS a PA, after all.

And guess what! He came back to the table tonight … but only after studying the recipe I had taped to the cabinet door above the counter where I work. Smart man.

Penne alla Riccotta con Asparagi
Penne with Ricotta and Asparagus

(Uh, sorry. Still a little touchy.)

I highly recommend this dish. It’s beautiful in every way. It’s also fairly simple. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking that two dishwasher loads for one bowl of noodles sort of defines “fairly simple” in this project.

Tomorrow night is our anniversary, so I will disappear from my desk a few minutes early and get to work on turning the evening into a celebration of a marriage that has been going strong for more than 30 years and even survived last night. July 21st will be the first time EVER that we have not gone out on our anniversary, testament to the joy in our kitchen, the fun in our dining room, and Michael’s capacity for humor and forgiveness. Oh, yeah.

And just so you know, I’ve planned menus beyond July 21st. That's LOVE, baby.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Tonight's dinner guarantees FAST run tomorrow!

Tonight’s little taste of heaven was Petto di Pollo con Indivia Belga e Prugne: Chicken Breast with Belgian Endive and Prunes served with rice and a little crusty bread.

This recipe, as handed down for thousands of years and no doubt polished to high gloss in the test kitchens of La Cucina Italiana by a team of Italian Master Chefs, was perfection itself. Probably.

We'll never know. Bev had to play with it. The rice was beige. The chicken was beige. The cooked endive was beige. So as I plopped the deep purple prunes into the pan one-by-one, I became increasingly enchanted by contrast in color. They started looking pretty sassy to me. I liked their dark moxie. So I added more. Lots more. Without bothering to calculate Pruneage Per Portion (PPP).

Blythe and blatant disregard for the PPP might have been a mistake with apocalyptic consequences according to Michael, our medical professional.

He says that the prune thing is NOT an old wives’ tale and that very likely, being over-pruned will create an interesting challenge tomorrow.

I choose to believe the threat of [that which we dare not speak, for we are Southern] will only serve to motivate us to run faster and perhaps closer to home.

Uh oh. Deepest apologies in advance to Michael and whoever is on the operating table tomorrow … or standing in the operating room beside him … or sitting behind him ... or in his way in the hall …

or later this week! Look what I found! Powdered Gerbil at $42.99 a pound.
(I wonder if it’s a diuretic?)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is rodent Sicilian or Roman?

Michael is fishing with his buddy Chic in the Gulf for the next two days, so I'm off the hook for cooking tonight. (No pun intended.)

I DID notice that when the boy packed, he cleaned out our refrigerator, which means one of two things: Either he really loves all his Italian food and cannot be parted from it or he's pretty sure they're not catching anything for their dinner tonight. Either way, I'm good with it.

I took the opportunity of his absence to get the grocery shopping done for next week. La Cucina Italiana made my mouth water as I planned meals, but as we've discussed, I have to be meticulously selective. I am unable to find a lot of the ingredients required by these recipes. In fact, I can't even identify them by food group ... or genus ... or planet.

Today I needed chervil. I've heard of it. So in all likelihood, it exists here somewhere. But I have NO clue what it is. Thinking it might be a cheese, I went to Publix Supermarket and exhausted the cheese section. Not cheese. Then I tore up the produce section. Not produce. Finally exasperated, I asked a customer service rep where they stock chervil.

She said (and I'm not lying), "If we have it, it's over near pork. But honey, I don't think we do. Not many people eat gerbil."

I could barely choke out, "Thank you so much."

Somewhere this evening, there's a worker from Publix who thinks I'm just short of a cannibal, for Bev is apparently planning to prepare Sauteed Gerbil con Pomadoro with fava beans and a nice Chianti ... feh feh fehfehfehfeh ...

When I perfect my recipe, I'm sending it in to La Cucina Italiana. Let all those real Italian chefs try to find THAT ingredient! HA!

P.S. Should we serve this with PETA bread???


Friday, July 16, 2010

Improv, Italian style

Okay, I'll admit it. Friday nights are problematic. Bev always finds herself in a coma, face down on top of piles and files and undone stuff. Freaking and fretting. Wanting the weekend to get going. Too guilty and exhausted to plan actual frivolity and fun. Knowing that the past week stopped being productive last Monday around 10:00 a.m. and feeling a sort of pressure that borders on the magma buildup under Old Faithful seconds before it erupts, but not in a way that inspires awe. In a way that inspires Xanax.

And to make it all worse, Michael was late getting home tonight.

So Project La Cucina Italiana got off to a really, reallyreallyreally bad start. BUT Bev swore on David's fig leaf that until our anniversary on the 21st, there would be an Italian meal on the table EVERY night without hostility. Amendment to the oath: " ... without (head-spinning, green-pea-soup-spewing) hostility." Okay, I was a little crazed tonight.

Plans went awry as plans do. This called for creativity. Being frugal, I had frozen a crazy-great tomato sauce from the pot roast thing last week. So it went into a fabulous improvisation over angel hair pasta sprinkled with cheese. "Improvisimo"? Good enough for me.

I call it Spa-gotcha. (Look! I'm starting to speak Italian kinda!) Because I dished it up with a flourish and the hovering grace of Aunt Bea, Michael was never the wiser. He didn't know it was a leftover. He doesn't know about leftovers. Remember: Up until a few days ago, he thought popcorn was a hot meal. There is never leftover popcorn.

Michael thinks I was in an apron between 6:00 and 7:30. I wasn't. I went for a run. This sweat isn't from chopping and stirring. It's from lumbering around the neighborhood. But don't tell the man. I like it when his eyes are filled with wonder. I like it when he's ... grateful.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pasta touted as magic food


The headline jumped right out of Prevention Magazine’s promotional insert in our paper this morning! Once again, Bev is cutting edge. Gotta say …

Referring to the miracles of pasta, the little blurb expounds: “… like magic in soothing PMS symptoms, including roller-coaster hormone swings, up-and-down blood sugar levels, mood changes, insomnia, anxiety, food cravings (especially for sugary, weight-gaining foods) and other PMS symptoms.”

I regard PMS as the perview of amateurs on the Psycho Scale I use to measure my own "bad days," but unwilling to turn my back on claims like this one, I've declared that Michael is less cranky this week; he is not bloated; and I can't spot anything roller-coasterish in his behavior. Is this man lucky or what?

Tonight’s menu: Orecchiette alle Verdure (little noodles I couldn’t find anywhere, tossed with every vegetable grown in Florida). With a half pound of chopped, pureed spring onions as the dominant flavor, we nearly verged on over-scallionage. But with all the red and green, this festive dish was Christmas in July! In fact, I put on Christmas carols and hauled out a few ornaments for table decorations. Nothing says "COOL OFF, KENYAN RUNNER" like plastic holly. Michael has stopped questioning the trappings. He focuses now only on his plate. (This ability to hyper-focus and remain calm at the table is probably a function of his abated PMS symptoms.)

RUNNERS: GO HARD OR GO HOME ... and Buon Natale!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Did Parsley save Rosemary in time?*

The Goddess of Grigliata announces tonight’s menu:

Grigliata Gamberi e Pomodore con Riso Pilaf
("Portrait of Michael in Rice")

Runner Bev knows you’re getting a little bored with the endless blogging about tackling Italian cooking with olive-oil-soaked recipes printed from the Web site of La Cucina Italiana clutched in my fist, but until our anniversary on July 21st, Michael is getting dinner every night without my usual hostility. It’s a gift. It’s a stretch.

But it’s also novel in our household. And to be runnerish, these dinners are calculated to be part of our running programs. Low fat. High carb. Fresh. Healthy. Nutritionally, this new menu is superior to say … uh … almost anything else I might have come up with for dinner. This is good.

What’s NOT good is that Michael rushes home now after work. This is bad because he’s a Physician Assistant who operates with heart surgeons. I got the feeling tonight that there might be a guy alone, still on the table; Michael mumbled something about a working aorta being highly overrated and duct tape having many uses.

I couldn’t really understand him. His mouth was full.

And here’s what else is NOT good: I designed this project as a gift up to our anniversary on July 21st. What am I going to do on July 22nd? And can Michael come live with YOU?

But angst notwithstanding, here’s what I’ve discovered in the week that we’ve been all Tuscan Sun at night. A happy dinner hour makes for a happy runner family. And that, my friend, is worth peeling all the gazillion little leaves off the bitty twigs of thyme.


*Apologies to Simon and Garfunkle. And many thanks to writer friend Darlyn Finch, who penned this question on a card during a Q&A at one of Paul Simon’s events and passed it to him. She guesses that because he deliberately skipped her card, he had heard the question before. I, on the other hand, had not. I found it HYSTERICAL!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deck the halls with bowls of Farfalle la la la ... la la la la.

Still on the carbo loading kick. Still pawing through La Cucina Italiana and looking for magic.

Tonight we had Insalata di Pasta con Verdure e Salsiccia. Notice tonight that the new Italian dish's name trips lightly and chef-fortlessly o'er the tongue? Is it that Bev has, in one short week, become so Tuscan that she no longer sees the kitchen as the true Portal to Hell? Or is it that Bev has discovered that Italian wines provide superior hydration for the runner: all the liquid of Gatorade with all the anesthetic effects of Sodium Pentothal (including blabbermouthism)?

Don't ask. Won't tell.

Tonight's fare was interesting, but problematic. The three main ingredients -- Farfalle noodles, zucchini, and eggplant -- are all three completely without flavor. The recipe called for sausage, but I think sausage is evil, so I allowed only a little to sneak into my bag at the market and made it ride home in the trunk. I'm guessing the dish needed it. The tomatoes and basil had to work too hard to drag subtlety over the finish line. My bad.

No problem. I grow bold now. A little creative doctoring turned a confusing whisper of a meal into a PARADE!

Runner Boy's patience was magnificently rewarded. In spite of tonight's momentary delay and adjustment of recipe, he's finally started to trust that dinner IS coming to the table, and it's going to be spectacular (Italian translation: favolosa, leggendaria, mitica, straordinaria, incredibile)! At the very least it's not going to be popcorn.

Tonight I am once again a goddess. But goddess isn't good enough. I want to be a runner. I'm carbo loaded alla Farfalle, but I want to put this load on the road. How is it that the Italians are so thin?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Runner Bev is now officially a goddess.

Paccheri Imbottiti al Pomodoro. This is Italian for "Bev, you are a freaking goddess."

Michael, with shining eyes, approached the dining table slowly and whispered, "What is this?" I gave him the short version. He looked upon his plate as an altar upon which I had offered up LOVE spelled out in mushrooms.

Sorry. Runner Bev is supposed to be blogging about running. But sometimes running is about food. And sometimes food is about love. This is one of those nights.

The goddess may be the world's worst runner, but tonight she rules La Cucina Italiana without their knowing. Michael knows. And tonight, he is all who matters.

Tomorrow morning we run.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

La Cucina di Bev open for business

Project Cucina Italiana -- total success tonight. FINALLY. Michael actually came to the table willingly and without having to be dragged.

What did Runner Bev put on the table? Mozzerella cheese slices with tomatoes and basil drizzled with Italian dressing, a hunk of bread with bean spread, tiny roasted potatoes, and (drum roll please!) Galletti alla Diavola Affumicati con Frutti di Bosco (translation: spicy smoked chicken with berry sauce from heaven). Oh yah.

Recipe here.

I would hang around to discuss the entire experience and the antioxidantalism of a boatload of mashed berries, but you just gotta look at the pix. Michael really liked this dinner. Really. Liked. This. Dinner. Really.

The man looks unnaturally grateful. Gotta go. :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I wanna burn fat, but this is ridiculous.

The Whartons don’t let their athletes eat. They make us "fuel." They use this subtle distinction in vocabulary so that we will always be clear that food is nutrition with purpose. It’s FUEL for working out. (This keeps us from squandering fueling opportunity on cookies.)

But today the concept of purposeful food intake took a sinister turn as I was putting gas into my car in Orlando and noticed the instructions on the pump for the first time. The word “fueling” caught my eye.

Read carefully with me.

Unless you pat your car before you fuel, you could burst into flames!

So tonight before dinner, I ran out and patted my car and then returned to the dining room table, nervous, but fairly certain that I could avert spontaneous human combustion. (NOTE: spontaneous human combustion is admirable ONLY on the track as you accelerate down the straight-away.)

Yikes. I want to burn fat, but this is ridiculous.

NOTE: I've been in Orlando, so La Cucina Italiana project will resume on Sunday in Gainesville. Stand by for more serious kitchen action. Unless I burst into flames in the meantime.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This runner is now an official Ciao Hound.

TRIUMPH! La Cucina Italiana and I got food on the table!

Granted, we got off to a rocky start last night. Michael was startled and confused by the sudden appearance of actual food on our dining room table … especially a plattered ball of beef the size of his head smothered in tomato sauce and served with side dishes and real forks.

I’ve spent our entire married life convincing the boy that popcorn IS a hot meal. And last night he realized there could be more. This was a delicate, pivotal moment in our marriage.

Undaunted by Michael’s nervous breakdown last night, tonight I prepared Pasticcio di Ziti. Translation: Ziti baked in some flashy, high drama tomato sauce. Cost: $29.44. Servings: looks like maybe 25 --- I couldn’t lift it. I served it with crisp green salads, crusty bread, and Cabernet.

The cool thing about the Pasticcio di Ziti is that it contains Pecorino, prosciutto, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I’ve concluded that most any food that starts with a “P” and ends with an “O” is delicious … which is good, because we WILL be eating this again and often. And by “this,” I mean THIS particular pan of Pasticcio di Ziti. Like forever or until we can consume 23 more portions, whichever comes first.

Now I answer the question that hangs in the air: “What happened to the Risotto with Clams, Crusader Bev Who Blames BP Oil for the Eternal Downfall of Clamming?” Simple. I couldn’t find all the ingredients that I needed to prepare the recipe, so my little package of clams became a simple appetizer tonight. The Clam Cram continues, but Bev isn’t driven insane.

And here’s tonight’s question: “O Princess of Shortcuts and Swapping Ingredients, is it true that a dish tastes best when it’s prepared with ALL the real and right stuff?”

Oh, yes, my darlings. Oh, yes, indeed. Tonight I got smootched!

So the next question will be: “How do Italians stay thin?”

I’m guessing that tomorrow’s run will have to be longer and more brutally paced than today’s. At this rate, by the time we get to our anniversary, Michael will be a happy boy and I'll be large enough to command my own gravitational pull. I'm now beginning to understand the long flowing robes favored by Roman senators and the Pope.


By the way, George Hirsch, marathon runner and publisher of the American edition of La Cucina Italiana, will be here on July 28 to keynote our Anhinga Writers' Studio Summer Workshops. His name doesn't begin with a "P" and end with an "O" ... but our evening with him will be DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking up trouble

Greetings from the Kenyan Runner’s Kitchen, where the newly discovered flavors of Italy blend with the goodness of Advil.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I postponed my intended inaugural Italian meal, Clam Risotto, and prepared instead Ragu Alla Napoletana – roughly translated: “Pot Roast in Tomato Sauce That Cost $68.53.”

Discovering the bait and switch, deeply disappointed friends challenged me on the sincerity of my impassioned case for eating all the clams we can (the “Clam Cram”) before the BP oil gush overtakes the harvest for the next 500 years.

To be honest, after my clam-soapbox, it was difficult to justify my switch to pot roast, and whip up that same impassioned political frenzy over beef. But it’s entirely possible that a cow could theoretically walk into the Gulf, maybe get sticky, and possibly reduce the herd. It’s a reach, I know. The truth is that I simply couldn’t find all the ingredients I needed for the Clam Risotto this evening, and I had a better chance with the Ragu tonight.

Of course, there was a LOT of ingredient-swapping going on. The recipe calls for “lardo.” I have no idea what “lardo” is. It’s not lard, because lard is called by name later in the recipe. It sounds like something that would cause a Wharton’s head to explode, but then again, eating beef would cause a Wharton’s head to explode. So we won’t tell beloved coaches about tonight, okay? In my own defense, I put great effort into making the Ragu Alla Napoletana as non-artery-clogging as I could. Red wine—even 3/4 of a cup in the recipe—is GOOD for the heart. Right?

Michael arrived home to a fragrant kitchen with pots bubbling and Bev halfway through the bottle of leftover red wine, belting out a Puccini aria. While another husband might have been delighted by this sudden passion for Italian cuisine (or any cuisine at all), Michael was instantly suspicious. Sigh. You think you know a man.

He’s still downstairs, ruminating over what just happened. Dare we tell him that Bev is deeply into the magazine La Cucina Italiana now and there’s no turning back? I think my serving clams tomorrow night might kill him.

Thursday’s run is going to have to be a long one with intervals (slow run with short bursts of fast pace). Gotta burn off some of this lardo. And this time, my darlings, we know EXACTLY what it means …

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bev is cooking PASTA!

Michael thinks I'm a terrible cook. Gotta be honest; he's right. Our dinner table is woeful if left up to Bev, who thinks one should leave the intricacies of food prep to the professionals at Taco Bell. Our anniversary is this month, so in a gesture that can only be described as one part adoration and one part guilt, I vowed to do better in the days leading up to the Big Night. A month of dinner on the table sans hostility is my gift to hubby.

But Bev is not creative. If it doesn't come in a box, Bev panics. You know. You've been reading.

Enter publisher George Hirsch's La Cucina Italiana magazine. The Whartons once told me that if I followed every word published by iconic marathon runner and publisher George Hirsch, I would be a great runner. Okay, George was publishing Runner's World at the time and has since moved on in his illustrious career to publish the American edition of the top Italian cooking magazine in the world, but what the hey. Italian is pasta. Pasta is carb. Carb is for Kenyans. George is George.

I'm in.

This magazine is gorgeous and full of recipes! For my first meal, I've zeroed in on Risotto with Clams. I got a little stuck on ingredients not found in Gainesville ... uh ... Florida ... uh ... on Planet Earth. If anybody knows where a girl can score Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice, do call.

But unrecognizable ingredients notwithstanding, the CLAMS are the sacred part of this dish. In Florida the clam harvest is in high gear, gathering and salvaging before damage from the BP oil gush takes out the leases in the Gulf just west of here. Who knows how long we'll be able to get them? Everyone is eating them as often as possible now in a collective, tearful, "Good bye." A chowderless world is going to be a bleak one. We want to remember the good times, so we're trying to cram the clams.

Buon appetito! (Translation: Italian-Kenyan for "Enjoy the clams, even if Bev is preparing them").

In George Hirsch's honor, I'll also be running a few extra miles tomorrow morning to burn off the 13,029 calories per serving.

For those of you who think that diving into a plate of Risotto with Clams is an un-Kenyan thing to do, remember that the Kenyan marathon runners train six months out of every year in ITALY. Oh, yes, they do. I know. I've been with them. Well, not WITH them ...


By the way, George Hirsch will be here on July 28 to keynote our Anhinga Writers' Studio Summer Workshops. Don't tell him about the crack I made about Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice, okay? I don't want him to think I'm a Philistine. I want him to think I'm a Kenyan who can cook.