as further testament to my welling solipsism, i have noticed that when talking to whoever about this or that obscure foodstuff i am often surprised that they don’t know what i’m talking about, not because i imagine the given item to be so common as to render ignorance unthinkable, but because i’m pretty sure that i talk about them often enough that the person must have been exposed to a similar tirade at some date previous. it is at that point that i begin to grow suspicious that people (quite reasonably) tune out much of what i say, much of the time.
one such thing that, in my mind, i talk about all the time, without seeming to make any significant impression on those around me, is (are?) arancini, an italian snack food that basically consists of a ball of risotto stuffed (often) with mozzarella, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep-fried. obviously delicious. they come in different varieties, sometimes stuffed with mushrooms, or meat sauce, or peas, and i spent the entirety of my trip to Rome back in aught-nine with one eye wildly attentive to any opportunity to try these little bastards in their natural habitat. unfortunately i only managed to try them on a couple of occasions, but in my defense, we were only in town for 48 hours, in which time we also drank 19 bottles of wine, so i suppose i’m lucky i remember being in Rome at all.
the name arancini means “little oranges,” after their arguably orangey appearance, and there is a slight (regional?) variation thereupon called suppli al telefono, which traditionally contain only mozzarella, the gooey strings of which that ensue from sundering a suppli evoking the slackness of a low-hanging telephone wire.
i of course keep an eye out for them in Montréal as well, but have yet to undertake a really concerted plumbing of Little Italy in order to divine where best to get them regularly. somewhat perplexingly, L’Amère à Boire currently has chèvre (er..capra?) arancini on their menu, which are fine, but strike me as an unnecessary twist upon an already quite adequate theme, myself being a little fickle about goat cheese anyway.
on the topic of twists, the foregoing has all been meant as preamble for me to mention that today, in the IGA (aka The Worst Grocery Store In Town), i had a sample of a, wtf, spaghetti arancino (o=singular), that was i guess what you expect for mutated Italian street food sold in an IGA. i do stop myself just short of high dudgeon at what appears on its face to be some culinary affront, because really can i say that it’s inappropriate? can i be like “listen, if you’re going to get me on board you’re going to have to go and deep-fry that spaghetti three hundred years ago.” thinking it through has the effect of putting the pretense of valorizing something for its ostensible “traditional” validity (ie: “authenticity,” a word at which i reach for my revolver out of sheer critical reflex) into harsher light. and i guess it does still look like a little orange, so the name isn’t altogether inaccurate. it also makes me reflect a little on the dangers of thinking our current cultural obsession with Deep Frying Everything and Foods Within Foods (could that the 2012 Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery is on “Stuffed and Wrapped Foods” be a sly, associative reference to Ouroboros, however oblique? i like to think so) as a peculiarly modern trend, which seems altogether too in step with the typical cyclical fixations on societal degeneration. although i do think that arancini speaks to the innovations born of the question “what to do with leftovers?” in a way that the deep-fried cheeseburger does not.
speaking of rice, one of my fillings just up and fell out the other day, leaving a grain-of-rice-sized hole in one of my back molars, which i can tell you is an inconvenient thing to be walking around with. i’m just waiting for that Worst Day Of My Life when i actually get a grain of rice (or like, a mini m&m) stuck in it. so if any of yous are of the praying persuasion, put a good word in for me and that not ever happening, please. this has at least provided me with the very “My Diamond Shoes Are Too Tight” experience of discovering how much it fucking smarts to accidentally douse an exposed dental nerve with 85$ single malt. on which note, for all you mid-to-high-rollers, in one of the rare instances of the SAQ not being arbitrary bastards (or maybe the paradigmatic instance of them being arbitrary bastards), apparently at the SAQ Signature downtown (677 ste-catherine) they’ll actually let you taste different scotches if you’re seriously in the market for something. magnificent.