Slow Could Be Best
I began this year vowing to read more books. I was thinking “quantity.” Then I started reading a travel book about Italy and food and I just had to slow down. Why was I rushing through what was beautiful writing about topics I love? This was not a book to be devoured quickly; rather it was one to be savored for both its content and style.
The name of the book is Pasta Pane Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture written by Matt Goulding.. It is an exuberant romp through Italian cuisine in eight regions of Italy, exploring “a wave of cooks, farmers, bakers, shepherds, young and old, trying to negotiate the weight of the past with the possibilities of the future.” The author gets up close and personal to his subjects, be they people, environment or food items, in a fun and detailed way.
Though this post could be a recommendation for the book, it is more than that. It is a shout-out for slow reading. Maybe it’s an expansion of my “slowing into the day” approach to life of late. Give me a good latte or an evening meal and time to enjoy it, and I’m pretty centered on the now. Why not do the same with a well-written book?
SO… I am inching my way through this book, taking time to envision the scenes the author describes. As the author says of his first week in Rome, “I do nothing… but chew and listen.” I want to do something similar, paying attention to each delicious word on the page, to go “deep,” as the title of his book implies.
For example, how about this meal he and his wife share in the Piedmont region of Italy?: “I eat lentil soup ladled from a beautiful glass terrine. Laura orders gnocchi, celestially light, brought back to earth by a cloak of creamy Castelmagno, a mildly funky blue cheese made a few towns over. I finish with brasato al Barolo, beef braised to the point of collapsing in a bath of the region’s most famous wine.” Love this!
Or… this lunch in Rome? …”at Litro, a lovely osteria in the hilltop neighborhood of Monteverde, perched above Trastevere. We are eating warm bread slathered in cold butter and topped with salty anchovies, one of those three-ingredient Italian constructions–a shopping list more than a recipe–that can stop a conversation in its tracks.”
Or… his description of drinking coffee in Italy: “Don’t expect subtle notes of wild fruits in your caffè (the more common name for espresso in Italy.) Italians roast beans longer, for a dark, oily, potent brew. As you move south, expect caffè to get stronger and shorter; by the time you hit Sicily, you can nearly scrape it with a spoon.” Got it!
I look forward to continuing my slow reading of Pasta Pane Vino. I may not read as many books this year as I originally thought, but I bet I enjoy each one more, relishing every rich word like a tasty ingredient in a perfect dish. Slow reading, slow food. A winning combo it seems to me!
*“He/she who goes slowly goes well and far.”