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Friday, June 29, 2007

Why I Hate The Smell of Mario's Baked Ziti

(Just a bit of fun. I'll get to the southern food this weekend.)

I can't believe they ended The Sopranos that way.

Nevertheless, I loved the ending. "T", Carm, Ajay, and...that Meadow! Guess what Meadow?? I have trouble parallel parking too!!

(I can't tell you how many times I had to back-up, pull-forward, pull-out, and back-in last night! It's maddening! It's enough to make one go all "Cleaver" and stuff.)

All of them – together, in of all things: a dive! How frickin' wonderful is that?!

But wait! It gets better. They went out with one of the coolest Journey songs ever! "Did he just say ever?" Ooohhh yes I did! Not only is Journey a local band, acceptable to consume as they fall within 100 miles of my music-shed, but they totally rock (in that power ballad, poppy, falsetto, guitar solo way). "When the lights, go dowwwn, in the Cit-tayyy...."


Anyway, there WE were, the ______ Street Glorified Crew, all neighbors, watching the last episode of The Sopranos that we'll ever watch together again (excluding re-runs). This has been our cosa nostra thing every Sunday for the last 4 years. Oh! the laughs, the tears, the joys, the federal indictments we've all shared with Christopha, Sil, Adrianna, the evil Janet, crazy Uncle June, Johnnycakes, and the Russian from the Pine Barrens; all over good food, wine, Gentleman Jack, and lately ice tea (for me).

For the final episode, I thought we'd go out like we came in – with a big ol' dish of pasta cooked the Italian-American way. Instead of just following my instincts and cooking with the knowledge I've picked up over the years, I decided to consult an Italian-American – or rather, his cookbook.

Now don't get me wrong: I like Mario Batali as a television personality. Granted, I don't know him personally but he sure seems like a nice guy (although, historically, the only fat guys who wore brightly colored rubber shoes were clowns, but such are the times we live in).

Speaking of, that baked ziti recipe in Molto Italiano smells like dirty clown feet!

The ingredients sound innocent enough: tomato sauce, béchamel sauce, penne pasta, cheese, breadcrumbs, some mild Italian sausage (disclosure: that's something I added). It looked great in my casserole dish. But on the way over to Laura's, Bruce and I were like: "Dammmnn! Is THAT the ziti?"

Truly, it smelled like Mario's unwashed Croc's – with extra toe funk thrown in. Although the ingredients were completely fresh and not out-of-date, this specific combo of ingredients gave the casserole the distinctive smell of something festering past its prime. Could it be the cheese? I only used parm and mozzarella. Couldn't be the sausage, could it? The combo of béchamel sauce and tomato sauce duking it out like Tony and Phil Leotardo over who'd run garbage collection in Newark?

I don't know.

The good news is that it tasted fine; good even. My neighbors thought it was great, although Laura was a little startled over how heavy it was as she lifted the casserole dish from the oven, where it had finished cooking.

Of all people, I realize that often things that smell (hmmm, how should I put this?) nasty often taste wonderful and complex. Mario's Baked Ziti is no exception. But perhaps next time I'll omit the béchamel sauce or try a different recipe altogether.

In the meantime, I'll have to try Mario's other

(roll credits)



Anonymous E said...

ha-that's so funny

1:35 PM  

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