Archive for July 16, 2009


July 16, 2009 1 comment


I mentioned our now-favorite pasta dish, bucatini amatriciana, in April and again a couple of weeks ago. To review: I ordered the dish in April at a nearby restaurant, Piatti. Bucatini is basically spaghetti with a narrow hole running down the middle, making it a long, narrow tube. The amatriciana sauce is named after the Italian town of Amatrice and has at its heart guanciale, or cured pig jowls. Pancetta can be substituted, as was done at Piatti, but I have the impression from my limited reading that guanciale is to be preferred.

Last month, when my cousins were in town, we took them to the one place John wanted to see in his first visit to Seattle, the Pike Place Market. We had been talking about guanciale the night before, and the fact that Salumi, famed local purveyor of cured meats, supplies it. We then saw guanciale down at the Market, in the meat case at DeLaurenti. John bought some for us, but we couldn’t find bucatini in the DeLaurenti pasta section. What we did find was a package of rigatini, which was thicker than spaghetti, with a proportionally wider hole in the middle. Gail made rigatini amatriciana for Joel’s birthday dinner that night. As I said in my post, “The guanciale made all the difference. It was so tasty. Go get some, get whatever pasta you like, and make this dish. It’s great.” I also noted that Gail used the recipe from Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant, which is appropriate, since the Salumi was started by Mario’s father, Armandino.

Which brings me to this week. Two days ago Gail’s old friend Cynthia was visiting from Syracuse (well, Cazenovia) and they went to the Market. While at DeLaurenti, Gail bought some guanciale again. And this time she found bucatini as well. So we had bucatini amatriciana for dinner at last. And yet again, it was great. When I ate some of the leftovers yesterday, I did find the sauce a little on the salty side. I don’t know if anything changed overnight. Maybe I just had more guanciale and less of the rest. Or maybe we need to cut the guanciale into smaller pieces. In any case, once again, I recommend that you buy some guanciale and try it for yourself.

Categories: Food

Hilzoy Retires

July 16, 2009 Leave a comment


hilzoy, my favorite blogger, announced her retirement late Monday night. I will greatly miss her special combination of intelligence, passion, and good writing. Below is an excerpt from her retirement announcement.

The main reason I started blogging, besides the fact that I thought it would be fun, was that starting sometime in 2002, I thought that my country had gone insane. It wasn’t just the insane policies, although that was part of it. It was the sheer level of invective: the way that people who held what seemed to me to be perfectly reasonable views, e.g. that invading Iraq might not be such a smart move, were routinely being described as al Qaeda sympathizers who hated America and all it stood for and wanted us all to die.

I thought: we’ve gone mad. And I have to do something — not because I thought that I personally could have any appreciable effect on this, but because it felt like what Katherine called an all hands on deck moment. I had heard about times like this in the past — the McCarthy era, for instance — though I had never expected to live through one. Nonetheless, I was. And I had to try to do something, however insignificant. …

Then, in 2004, I was asked to join Obsidian Wings. It was an honor: at the time, ObWi was, for my money, the best blog that really tried to create a dialogue between liberals and conservatives. And that was what I really wanted to do: to listen to people I disagreed with, to engage with them, and to try to show that it was possible to care deeply about politics without hating your opponents. Being civil doesn’t mean you’re lukewarm, and being committed to your principles doesn’t mean you have to be hateful. Being asked to write for the Washington Monthly was a further honor, and one that I never expected.

That said, it seems to me that the madness is over. There are lots of people I disagree with, and lots of things I really care about, and even some people who seem to me to have misplaced their sanity, but the country as a whole does not seem to me to be crazy any more. Also, it has been nearly five years since I started. And so it seems to me that it’s time for me to turn back into a pumpkin and twelve white mice.

Categories: Politics, Writing

Giraffe Teleology

July 16, 2009 Leave a comment


A five-day-old baby giraffe was introduced to the public yesterday at The Safari in Ramat Gan, Israel. (The Safari, as the website explains, is the combination of an African animal park and the former Tel Aviv Zoo. It “is the largest animal collection in the Middle East and is unique in the world, because of the large herds of mixed species of African animals that roam the spacious African Park.”) There’s a good slide show of the giraffe here.

Some of the photos impressed upon me the point that the baby was born at just the right height to reach under her mother Denisa and get milk. How about that! It’s enough to make you believe in intelligent design. Then again, I suppose giraffe mothers could have been designed to lie on their sides while nursing, allowing for shorter babies.

(HT: The Daily Dish)

Categories: Animals