last week, bored and computerless (i don't even want to talk about it), i caved in and bought tom mcnamee's book about alice.
i met tom in italy, at the dinner table where i tasted my first white truffles. alice had them in a little box, along with the first eggs laid by chickens at the edible schoolyard (cristina had carried them half-way across the world on her lap), and she gave them to chris to go around and shave over everyone's pastas. pasta after pasta after pasta. tajarin, ravioli, agnolotti--so much pasta! i remember the bathroom in that little hole in the wall restaurant (corby had sent us there) had this funny toilet seat that flew up every time you flushed, and sprayed itself with sanitizer.
the next night we left turin for the countryside, and got soooooo lost. we were headed to cornale for dinner, and after three or four hours in the car (it should have been an hour's drive), we found the place and had a great, authentic, pure dinner (tajarin with chicken hearts!) that just overwhelmed us. out of all of us, my italian (still quite weak at that point) was the best, so i translated for us everything that elena had to say. she swept us off her feet with her passion fro farmers and the land, and we stayed there for many, many courses beyond what we needed.
though we knew we were late to get to verduno, we had neglected to realize that the time was changing that night. we thought we were getting there at 1.30am, but we'd actually made them wait up for us until 2.30. yikes. maybe that explained why they hated us so much the next day.
anyway, you can read tom's version of the dinner in the alice book. it doesn't mention mikhail baryshnikov taking photos of us all day long with a little disposable camera, or me wincing when i realized that i had to make creme anglaise with that weird parmalat cream in a box and then desperately trying to hide the evidence from alice and lindsay. there are lots of little and not so little mistakes in there (the whole book, not just that chapter), and it makes me sad, because i know that he worked on it for a long time. i also was sad because i was cut out of the original story in saveur (though i did get to write the recipes for that article), after dragging 10 kilos of porcini and 6 huge cardoons in my backpack on the eurostar train from florence (i got a lot of weird stares from the italian businessmen). but all's well--i can make my own star one day. i don't think i need to ride this one to get where i'm going.
there is a great picture of bob in the book. and one of cp before it was cp. it was worth it for those two photos.