Today Italy is celebrating 150 years since the unification and the tricolor flags are slung over balconies everywhere, soaking up a good dose of Spring rain.
I imagine his apartment. A table with a place setting already laid out, a Corriere Della Sera folded just so for him to read. I imagine an old radio or record player playing something soft in the background. Maybe opera. He's not like the other old men I see all over our neighborhood. They stand in groups smoking, talking idly, loudly, never going anywhere, not moving for us to get by on the sidewalk. This man is different. Engaged somehow, yet withdrawn. Always coming or going. Alone. Polite. From another era. I keep thinking about the tip of the hat. I wonder again what he'll have for dinner.
If you want to find out something about someone in Italy, ask the portiere. I mentioned my mystery man to our doorman Alfio and he raised his eyebrows in recognition. “The Colonel,” he said. It turns out he's a retired Colonel from the Italian army and he goes to a military mess hall nearby to have his main meal every day. “He's a widow?” I ask. “No,” Alfio tells me, “he's alone.”
This man served his country and I wonder what he's thinking today and what this day means for him.
Radish leaf pesto
Inspired by Chocolate and Zucchini's recipe
I used the leaves from two bunches of small, young radishes. If you get them very fresh, you can also use radish leaves in a salad of mixed greens. It feels great to find a use for something that I used to just throw away. These greens make a terrific pesto that would add a zing to pasta, pizza or spread on a sandwich. As for the quantities, you can wing it and make it just to your taste.
Wash the radish leaves well and place them in the food processor with a small garlic clove, a handful of pine nuts and whizz until processed. Drizzle in some olive oil and then stir in some freshly grated parmesan cheese.