Just had to say, today, for almost the first time in my life, I had REAL Italian food. You know. Not Tony's frozen pizza with Prego in a jar, drowned in Kraft Parmesan sawdust in a little green cylindrical can. As in recipes prepared by Italian American cooks, handed down by Italian American grandmothers, and served in restaurants owned by Italian American families. (I had a fresh mozzarella salad in Boston once, but that didn't come with sauce, so that doesn't count.)
I've heard stories about people going to some little out of the way place they never tried before and having the best meal they ever ate, but I didn't think it could happen to me. When I try a new place, I usually get nervous because there are ten people standing behind me in line on their lunch hour, and no time to decipher the menu on the wall, and I end up with half a croissant dripping something slathered in mayonnaise, a few stale chips, and a pickle. But now I'm in Pennsylvania, and in matters culinary, as in other areas of my life, there is, at long last, hope.
Couple of weeks ago I promised myself I'd have a piece of pizza for Fat Tuesday at this little hole in the wall pizza place next door to the grocery store where the nuns shop. I never saw anybody parked there, so I figured maybe it would be so-so, if I was lucky. But I didn't care. It was Fat Tuesday, and I was feeling daring. A simple Quarter Pounder just simply would not do.
I parked in the diagonal parking beside Gould's and walked in. At 1:00 PM there was nobody in there but the guy at the counter, a tall hefty guy with ear plugs (and I don't mean the soundproofing kind). There were several pieces of pizza and some stromboli. He said it was steak and cheese, and I said that sounded good. He invited me to sit down, saying it would be a minute and he would bring it out to me, which I thought was very gentlemanly of him.
I sat down and sipped on my Pellegrino Momenti (Clementine-and-peach-flavored Italian mineral water), perusing the to-go menu. Soon he brought my lunch to me on a tray with a little sauce on the side and OH MY GRACIOUS GOODNESS! The stromboli was excellent--very thin, tender crust cradling a thin rolled steak wrapped in thick slices of cheese--but the SAUCE, the sauce was to DIE for.
The weird thing is, I don't know why it was so good, only that it was the best thing I ever put in my mouth. I mean, I could put that stuff in my coffee in the morning and be a better person for it. I've heard of sauce like that before, sort of like a pureed gravy consistency, supposedly what they serve in Black Eagle, Montana, at Borrie's Supper Club, but I'd never had it. And I got both the stromboli and the drink for under $6 bucks! Bonus!
So now I can die happy and go to heaven fulfilled, or at least enter the season of Lent with some happy fortification, because today I had real Italian food in a real Italian restaurant. Best of all, it's just up the road, and I know where to get more next time I decide to go all out and indulge. And I don't need to fight the crowds or take out a bank loan or walk a mile to eat there!
Only forty days until Easter! Where will YOU break your Lenten fast? Happy Mardi Gras!
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