Let’s say right off the bat that I am not in a good mood. I have had a headache for two days, and its hot and muggy. All I really want to do is lie on my bed and read magazines while consuming endless lime popsicles.
This evening we went out for dinner at the faculty club of the nearby University. My parents took all of us, as well as my brother and his sons. There’s a pool, it was all-you-can-eat ribs night, and it seemed like a great objective to fill (and cover) the little boys with ribs and then throw them in the pool to get clean before bed. That part all went according to plan.
Although it has moments of pretty-darned-good-ness, “The Club” is not a place one would select for haute cuisine. They make good burgers, a couple of nice salads, and a dessert called a Coconut Snowball that I have been eating since I was a kid. They also do a very nice Sunday brunch buffet. In the summer, I usually order a couple of appetizers for dinner – the Shrimp and Lobster Cocktail and a cup of Gazpacho is a combination I enjoy, and something I could never make at home (because no one else at my house would eat it).
Tonight I decided to take a walk on the wild side and order a new menu item called the “Tuscan Chicken Sandwich.” I had been looking at Italian cookbooks earlier, and this sandwich promised to fulfill my yearnings for the flavors of Tuscany in summer, from the fresh herbs on the chicken breast to the Pesto Mayonnaise and roasted peppers I would be able to taste the sophistication of Florence and the charm of San Gimigiano.
When my dinner came, it was a boneless, skinless chicken breast on sourdough toast with cheddar cheese, hothouse tomato, unidentifiable white cheese, some very slimy roasted pepper and mayonnaise. If there was Pesto in there, it was well hidden. No Tuscan sunshine. No Florentine flair. Just a broiled chicken sandwich on toast with lots of mildly flavorless glorp on top.
As I mentioned, I am grumpy, but what the heck? Did I miss the great tradition of Tuscan sourdough makers? Would any self respecting Italian eat a hothouse tomato in the middle of summer? Cheddar Cheese?!
I will take myself and my sore head to bed and dream of something better – grilled chicken with a smear of pesto on Ciabbatta with good tomatoes, fresh roasted peppers, and maybe garlic Aioli. Or maybe a cold melange of eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion and garlic. Or maybe Foccaccia.
Next time, back to Shrimp & Lobster Cocktail and Gazpacho. At least its honest.