• James Eric Fristad

The Lowly Crostini

Essentially nowadays it's a piece of artisan toast with tasty stuff piled on top, served as an appetizer. People whose job it is to figure out origins, think that this was once the lowliest of the low forms of eating: crummy and crumbly and likely stale bread disguised with wine or oil, and topped with whatever was handy. I think it's curious that what was once (it is surmised/guessed) peasant-food has, over the centuries, moved up the status scale. I mean, today given two otherwise similar restaurants to choose between, for myself, I would opt for the one offering these kinds of little tidbits.

So being here in Italy where they take such items seriously, daily, I decided to try something of the sort, in my own humble fashion. And of course comment.

I could have titled this blog "LAYERS" because that's what these gadgets amount to, but how boring is that? So beginning with the first above-plate layer, it's bread from the local market: maybe three days old (bought in Orvieto as it happens). Heavy textured, sliced thick with the bread-knife that I packed with me for the purpose. Toasted using that weird toaster-thingie on the counter. Now only slightly crispy, perfect.

Next layer is Extra Virgin Olive Oil, just a tad. A little hard to restrict it to "tad-ness" because the spout in the bottle from today's market run is kinda large, and I have no proper cruet at hand. Aha, fill one of the tiny teaspoons from the utensils drawer, out of that biggish bottle, and you have the first of several needed tad-measures to finesse onto the first layer.

This next (more of a semi-layer) I might have omitted. But no, the finished artifact needed to be more special than yesterday's, if only a little. That unknown word on the label means garlic.

Next the Peccorino-Romano, thin sliced with a gadget delivered from Amazon the week before I left. I love Peccorino cheese, ever since the days of visiting Pienza in Tuscany, about which maybe more some other time.

And on what I'm arbitrarily calling the (roof)top, some salami. I had sliced and fried this stuff a week ago, because while the flavor was satisfying I really didn't like the greasiness of it. I say arbitrary top, because one could just go on piling layer over layer ... but that kinda defeats the purpose of the experience, as I shall explain. Or attempt.

See, the point of it was to ponder the Platonic abstraction of SANDWICH.

Hahahaha, seriously? Sort of. It touches on eating in general. In the minutes spent at last munching on my homemade crostini, you see, I concentrated on the flavors of its parts. Paused, smiled, tasted and thought about it again. Swallowed, smiled. Another bite of course, but not too soon; there's still residual flavor doing its magic in my mouth. Crunch. Yes, it really was that good. And, look (voila) I have three and a half of these goodies resting on my plate. Just lounging there, looking at me. Confident.

Because the crostinis had to have known that I was savoring every part of their taste-layers, and of course that I was anticipating the next morsel. Not to gobble it down but to process it with my senses.

Obviously all this introspection for the nonce brings to mind that great U.S. benchmark ...

So, what 'cha think?

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