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Power Nappin’! September 30, 2007

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point.
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I woke up this morning and tried to write the ol’ blog, but for some reason couldn’t clear the haze out of my head enough to come up with a good topic.

Then I went to an airshow with my brother and saw the pretty airplanes, took in a little sun, and came home and had a power nap.  Man I love those.

I call what I do now a reboot.  All I need to do is to let the engine wind down for a few minutes, and when I do I know I run more efficiently!

 My napping habits are way different from when I lived in Rome though.  When we were in Rome, we had to get up at the absurdly early hour of 6:15 in order to get everything done, eat breakfast, and walk to school before everything started at 8:00 AM.  It was horrible torture.  Then we had to listen to 4 hours of lectures in Italian.  Well, some of us listened to 4 hours of lectures in Italian, some went to museums or read a book. (I admit, I skipped a class now and then to take in the cultural education of Rome).

After listening to all sorts of different nationalities trying to punch out an hour long Italian lecture in a number of accents, it made a young man hungry.  We were always greeted at home with a wonderful full Italian meal every day.  Pasta, salad, meat, and a side.  I still think my house had the best food in Rome- especially the Carbonara and the Mille Foglie.

So we did what any smart guy would do, we carb loaded like crazy.  Imagine living in an all you can eat pasta bar every day.  I am surprised I wasn’t 600 lbs in the first couple of weeks (but I am sure all the walking in Rome took care of some of that).

After lunch we would spend some time with Katie Couric, as it was 2 in Rome, and 8 in the morning in the US.  That is when the carbs began to catch up with me.  The groggyness would start- the eye lids would get heavy- even the peppy nature of Katie couldn’t compete with a stomach full of noodles.

Eventually, after a couple of jokes and a quasi-delerious how do you do, one by one each fellow would retire to his room.  The blinds in Italy made it possible for you to completely block out the sun and make your room pitch black.  You could have set off a nuke outside my window, and no light would have made it into my room.  Routinely that nap, pajamas, under the covers, and in the dark, would take me to about 6 in the evening.  It was wonderful!  I would get up and have some dinner, and stay up way too late.  It was a great life!

Now I can’t sleep in the afternoon more than 15 minutes- but all I need to do is lay fallow for a few minutes.  I sometimes wish that American culture would embrace the whole afternoon nap thing- Not necessarily the 4 hour afternoon nap, I admit it was a bit excessive there, but a little power nap in the afternoon might increase our efficiency at work and make us easier to get along with!

 I think I have some more thoughts on “letting the fields lay fallow,” as more as an observation that needs to be followed in life.  I think I will let you sleep on it and continue tomorrow.

Coasting September 29, 2007

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The Magnum

A few years ago, while my dad was still working for IBM, they had a IBM club gathering at Cedar Point, which is an amusement park in Northern Ohio halfway between Cleveland and Toledo.  At that time they had just opened the Magnum, which they touted as the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster.  I believe it went up 6000 feet and passed the speed of light for a few seconds.  My facts may be a little off on the specs of that particular ride.

I was only 11 at the time, and was privileged to be hanging out with my brother Mark the whole day. He is my older brother, and so the duty fell to him to try and get me on all the roller coasters.  We arrived at the park, and among all the different roller coasters, the Magnum shot way beyond all the others.  I believe that its summit was surrounded by clouds, and only visible with a high powered telescope, or at least that is how it seemed at the time.

My brother Mark pointed at the monster of a roller coaster and he said, “we are going to ride that one.”  To which I promptly responded, “I would rather go to the Happy Friar and get some french fries.”  (The Happy Friar is located near the Gemini if you are ever there- one of those places that puts french fries in a cup and serves them with vinegar.  Heaven my friends.  Heaven.)

Mark was a smart guy though- he took me on the smallest coaster first, the Blue Streak.  It is a rickety looking thing just past the entrance, and is still the oldest coaster they have in the park.  It was a wooden coaster, so part of the fun was that it violently shook you every inch.  Nothing says good fun like a numb back and legs.  When I look back on things, I would wager that the Magnum, with all of its steel and advanced design, was probably safer than the Blue Streak.

From there we worked our way up to the Iron Dragon, the Gemini, the Corkscrew etc etc.  Each time I rode a bigger fast coaster, it seemed that I built more confidence.

Then it was time.

Mark looked at me and said, it’s time to ride the Magnum. I looked at him and the idea of french fries appeared back in my mind.  We got in the line though, and we waited the obligatory hour and a half for a 4 minute ride. Each step brought us closer to that looming network of steel and cables.

We got to the loading dock and my brother got into the car first, probably so I wouldn’t just walk through.  We had invested quite some time standing in line, and he wasn’t about to let me chicken out right at the end.  He knew me too well.

The bar came down.  That was it.  I was trapped.  I realized my doom, and as the train clanked up the first giant hill I started to cry.  How embarrasing!  The guy behind me started to make fun of me.  But don’t worry- he got his.

I looked around and there was the ominous clank clank clank that you always hear when you are being pulled up that first hill.  Actually, that is a good thing because that means the emergency breaks are working, in case you didn’t know that.

I looked down and saw a seagull flying below us.  I believe I saw Sputnik we were so high.  Then that first hill- the drop- my tears turned to cries of exhilaration as we approached mach 7.  It was a blast indeed!  I screamed and yelled, and before we knew it the ride was over and I was shouting to my brother how I wanted to do it again!  It was a pretty neat feeling.

Oh yea, and that guy that was behind me- scared the heck out of him.  He was crying upon the return and he must have been 16 or 17.  Told you he got his.

Life works the same way.  There is a three fold lesson to be learned here.  One I suppose you could call a circle of achievement.  Achievement builds confidence, and confidence allows us to achieve more.  As I ascended the ranks of roller coasters I did get more confidence.  There was no way that I had the confidence to ride that roller coaster at the beginning of the morning, but I had built up just enough by the end of the day to at least attempt it.

Second, we achieve goals in increments.  The person that begins New Years saying that they are going to lose 50 pounds is probably not going to lose any.  It is too big of a task, much like that roller coaster was for me at the beginning of the day.  The person that says that they are going to lose 1 lb this week no matter what is likely to do it.  I have a philosophy of following shortter daily goals.  Sometimes I feel like I am spinning my wheels, but when I look back and see the collective progress in something I realize how far I had come.  In terms of the roller coasters, the Blue Streak seemed like an ant hill compared to the Magnum by the end.  It is always neat to see where we have been when we don’t think we are going anywhere.

Finally, anticipation can be our worst enemy.  The actual event of the rollar coaster was a fun one.  The anticipation was what was causing me the fear.  I have avoided a lot of things in my life because the anticipation of a particular event causes me fear and anxiety.  There are ways to work through that, and that fear and anxiety should not be a determining factor in our decisions.  Sometimes you just have to live with it and push through.  Usually the actual event isn’t as bad as the anticipation might make it seem.  Certainly my first ride on the Magnum was more of a harrowing experience WHILE I WAS IN LINE!

After all that was said and done, Mark and I walked over the Happy Friar- and ate some vinegar covered french fries.  Those WERE as good as I anticipated!

American Pie Party September 27, 2007

Posted by rengawman in Events.
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Last Sunday, September 23rd 2007, I had the opportunity to speak at an event that benefits the American Cancer Society called “The American Pie Party.”  It is interesting how I ended up doing that particular event, and the event itself was a great experience.

Since having moved to the south end of town, I have had to go to a laundromat to do my laundry.  I will be getting a washer and dryer any day now.  I actually like the laundromats because you will inevitably meet people there.  A couple of weeks ago I met a great lady named Kitty.  She was there doing the family laundry, and I happened to sit near her to a read a little of some books that I brought to pass the time.  She is a delightful woman, and we struck up a great conversation.  It is great the people God puts into you life at the right time.

We chatted about some important things and we exchanged some emails and I ended up meeting a friend of hers named Tony Sobony.  Tony and his wife Sally ended up having me over for dinner last week with Kitty and her husband George.  That is when I was introduced to the American Pie Party. 

It seems for quite some time now (1980 according to the website) Tony has been organizing events where celebrities “take a pie in the face to help fight cancer.”  Each pie thrown generates a charitable donation which is then given to the American Cancer Society.  Tony is, to say the least, passionate about the pie throwing… Even talking to him he ends every conversation with a hearty “good pie!” in place of good bye.

In one event they threw over 11,000 pies at celebrities, and a total of over 60,000 pies over the years!  That is a lot of whipped cream- but a lot of good done to fight cancer as well.  I can only imagine what the 3 Stooges are thinking in heaven, as they were de-throwned as the kings of pie throwing by Tony!

 The event Sunday was human checkers on the patio of the Funny Bone Comedy Club.  There were two teams of people, red and blue, each coached by a celebrity.  One team was coached by Dino from the morning show on Sunny 95 here in Columbus, and the other a Woody Hayes look a like. (At least I hope he was a look a like, or the dead have risen and they are playing checkers!)

Each time one of the “pieces” got jumped the person had to take a pie in the face for cancer.  It was really fun to watch, and people seemed to have a great time doing it!  Unfortunately the Woody look-a-like did not get the coaching skills of his doppleganger, and was… “creamed” by Dino.  Sorry about the pie pun there folks…

Go and check out the website at www.americanpieparty.org.  It was a great time, and wonderful to be a part of something that fights cancer!

The great thing about an event like this is two fold: first and most obviously it raises money to help fight cancer.  Cancer strikes so many people each year and an event like this raises money and awareness to continue the ongoing fight.

The second aspect is that humor is a great weapon in the fight against any illness.  Reader’s Digest was right in saying that laughter is indeed the best of medicines.  I recall when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, the times in which we could laugh, and they seemed to be often are the times I remember the best.  It was that laughter that allowed us all to rise above the troubles for the moment and to find peace and harmony in the middle of our struggles.  I believe that this was the power of an event like this- it wasn’t just about throwing pies at people or playing human checkers- and it wasn’t simply about raising money- but it was about raising spirits.  I can certainly attest to the fact that my spirit was raised last Sunday!  Thanks Tony!

 

My neighbor Ted. September 26, 2007

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I have lived in this particular neighborhood for about a month now, and I have already gotten to know a lot of my neighbors by name.  We haven’t spent much time together yet, but at least I know their names and I am able to say: Hello Ted, or Hello Jay!


Me and Ted?

I thought that was pretty normal.  Turns out it isn’t.  If I think back to all the other neighborhoods that I lived in, at least in sub-urban areas, I can’t think of the name of one of my neighbors.  We lived next to these people for years and years, and while families came and went, I can’t say that their names stuck in my mind.  I think that is simply amazing, that people can co-exist, just feet from each other, and not know anything more than a name… if that!

I was out talking to my neighbor Ted the other day.  I make it a point to go over and see him when he is out working in his garden.  And what a garden!  I think he has about 60 different types of flowers in his back yard.  It is pretty neat to go out to my car and see all the colors and smell the potpouri of smells.  I will miss it when winter comes.  He jokingly (I hope) said once that he loves his garden more than his wife. (I know this to be a joke because I met his wife and she is a lovely woman and he obviously loves her a lot.)  I told him, “You better not tell her that,” to which he replied, “why not?  I tell her all the time!”  I just thought that was funny. 


For illustrative purposes I have a used a picture of Ted Danson, as I do not have a picture of my neighbor Ted.  There is absolutely no resemblance whatsoever… at all.

 

Ted is a retired fellow who probably lived in his house with his wife for the last 200 years or so it seems.  He often tells me stories about the neighborhood, the people who lived in this house and the other houses in the neighborhood, and how they came and went.  That is what got me thinking about this post here.  This was a guy who was invested in his neighbors.  I knew that he was making an investment in me as well as he spoke with me.

As I was speaking with him, another one of my neighbors pulled into their parking lot.  He waved at me and Ted who were chatting over the fence (kinda like Wilson and Tim Allen on Home Improvement).  He said “Hello, neighbor!”  Ted replied with an equally generic “Hello neighbor” as well.  They didn’t know each other’s names!  Amazing.  Again, how we can all co-exist with each other and not even know each other’s names is just shocking to me.  What was more shocking was to realize that in the past I have been guilty of it myself.

I suspect some of that comes from what I call the “name window.”  The name window can be a couple of minutes or a couple of weeks depending on the situation.  That is the amount of time after meeting someone that you can ask their name again without embarrassment.  Once you pass that “name window,” you pretty much have to be content with the generic greeting such as I heard between Ted and my other neighbor.  Probably they would like to know each other’s names, but don’t want to feel dumb asking.

I once had a living situation where I didn’t know what to call one of the other people living in the same place- so I always greeted them with a hearty- HEEEEEY you…  talk about awkward.  The “name window” on that one was about 45 seconds though, and I missed it.

As I think I have said in other posts, we are defined by our relationships.  That is what gives us context in the world- tells us who we are and what we are supposed to be doing.  Two things make us in God’s image and likeness, one is free will and the other is the ability to enter into relationships with others.  I know I need to make even more efforts to get to know Ted and the other people that live around me.  It is worth getting to know them because it will situate me here, and make it feel more like home.

Go over and talk to your neighbors if you haven’t for awhile.  Swallow your pride and ask them their name if you never got it, or never asked.  People like one thing above all others: the sound of their own name.  It will get you great service at a restaurant by the way if you know the name of your server.

Second wind…. September 25, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor.
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OK i thought that due to my lack of sleep last night (second time this week) my lethargic brain would not produce the myriad of concoctions commiserate with my cognitive creativity.

Apparently, it has opened it up to strange new places and concepts.

So I thought I would just add to my previous entry with a couple of puns I found to be funny.  I have to dedicate this blog therefore to an old classmate, Stephen Doctorzic (sp?) who literally spoke every other sentence with some kind of pun. 

Two peanuts were walking in a tough neighborhood and one of them was a-salted.

At a pet store: ‘buy one dog, get one flea’.

A music store had a small sign which read: Bach in a Minuet.

Waiting for her photos to be developed a young girl sang ‘Some day my prints will come.’

A man walked into a chimney store and asked ‘How much for this one?’. The salesman replied ‘It’s on the house.’

England doesn’t have a kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool

Drinking too much coffee can cause a latte problems.

The coffee around here is break fluid.

OK that’s enough… a serious post tomorrow.

(I can’t say by the way those puns are originals) (I wish I was that smart.)  (I am good at manking up limerics though!) (Puns can be found at : www.punoftheday.com )

Insomnia gets you this… September 25, 2007

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Had a hard time sleeping last night so my creativity isn’t what it should be.  So for your viewing pleasure:

Email Junkie, part 2 September 24, 2007

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, philosophy.
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So I was thinking about yesterday’s blog, which can be read below, and I couldn’t help but waxing philosophical about it a little.

Why is it that I like email?  I think all of us like a little email now and then- some of us, like it more than others!

Email is both a blessing and a curse.  This whole Internet thing is both a blessing and a curse if you ask me.  In some ways it seems that we are being connected to each other more than ever, while in other ways, it seems that we are more distant now than we ever have been.

I believe I will call this the Internet paradox.  Mostly, because I like the word paradox.  It is almost as good of a word as matrix.  I should come up with something called the “Internet Paradox Matrix.”  Throw in the words “flux capacitor” and you are cooking with gas!

The internet paradox is that while we are more connected, the less we understand how to actually communicate.  For instance, those networking sites like myspace or facebook give you access to millions of people who can become your “friends” at the click of a button or two.  I know people that have hundreds if not thousands of these Internet friends.  They can exchange emails and notes, show pictures, blog etc.  Instantly, millions of people can know all about me- or as much as I want to tell them.

Back in the day- I mean my college days- I used to be on aol a lot to chat.  I had friends on there that I would “see” every day.  We would talk for hours and hours, and most of them I never met.  I knew all about them and the intimate details of their lives, and they knew me.  The few times I did meet up with people in person, or talk to them on the phone, it was usually a different experience.  There is no replacement for real life chemistry.  That is where the paradox comes in.  See, we are not really relating to anything at all but a screen or a text message.  With the internet we are once removed from actual human contact.

I have always said that if you want to get to know a person you have to spend time with them.  There is no substitute for that at all.  The internet- while giving us access to lots of people- has diluted our ability to actually connect.  Friendships become superficial and end the same way they began, with a couple of clicks of the mouse button.

Friendships- heck, any relationship takes time and proximity to actually develop into something meaningful.  Email, myspace, text messages etc etc are great starts, but I get the impression a lot of young folks use that as a substitute for actual nitty gritty one on one communication.

I think the reason behind this is that in order to become intimate- truly intimate- with someone you must first expose the real you.  That is dangerous.  That leaves us open for heart break and hurt.  But it also opens us up to the wonderful potential that a deep and profound relationship can bring with it.  Intimacy is ALWAYS a risk.  But intimacy is ALWAYS worth the risk.

My favorite book is written by C.S. Lewis called the Four Loves.  I would highly recommend it if you are a human being.  He says in the section on romantic love that we have two choices- put out hearts at risk of being broken, or wrap it up in all sorts of distractions- burying it in the ground so that it turns hard and unbreakable- and also irredeemable.  Maybe this emailing and technology is a way of seeming to open ourselves up to intimate relationships when really it is another way to not risk our hearts from being broken.

I personally think it is worth the risk…

Email junkie… September 23, 2007

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Hello, my name is Joshua Wagner, and I am an email junkie.

I love email– I love it better than real mail sometimes because you don’t have to go through all the work of writing the letter then printing it out, getting an envelope, then a stamp… blah blah blaaaaah.  Oh no… more than anything else in this life email is INSTANT gratification.  I love sitting down and zipping out a few emails to friends every so often- they are great venues for creativity on my part.  I love sitting there at the end of an email about Ferris Bueller and his connection to Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell, and laughing at whatever I wrote.  I write them as much for my entertainment as the person I am writing it to. 

What’s better than writing emails is receiving emails.  Oh man… that is heaven.  A couple of years ago I bought one of the first hybrid phone/PDA’s so that I could keep up somehow with my email on the go.  The thing was the size of a brick (literally it was a phone and a computer tied to either side of a brick), and it only had speaker phone!  And not a very good one by the way.  I used to wear it on the right side of my belt, and now I walk with a permanent tilt to my right side.  My life is now officially slanty. 


My first PDA/phone and the Empire State Building- (Actual Scale)

It connected to the internet about as fast as I walk.  In fact, it would have been faster to send a carrier pigeon to whomever I was trying to get a message to. It may have even been faster for me to walk and see the person I was emailing!

By the way, if you think getting an email is a rush for me, I melt whenever I get a carrier pigeon.  MELT.  You should try it sometime… those medieval guys had something there.

Still I had the ability to check my email on the go- even if it took me 45 minutes to read and reply to one message.  Talk about efficiency!  Plus I am sure it was comical to watch me try to have a phone conversation by yelling into a giant brick.

Now I have upgraded to one of those fancy Palm Pilot Treo’s.  I am in heaven.  It shakes and makes noise whenever it gets an email– incidentally, I shake and make noise any time I get an email too.  It is like we were made for each other.  Now I am totally and completely in touch with my email all the time.  I am trying to find someone who will surgically implant the treo into my left arm.  Apparently they only do those types of operations outside the US.  Stupid FDA.  Something about being unsafe or something.

Literally I check the email about 100 times an hour.  A lot of the time- nothing.  It is sort of like perpetually the day before Christmas for me.  What I mean by that is I remember as a kid the day before Christmas being filled with the anxious hope of whatever I was going to get the next day.  That hope is a double edged sword: you knew you were going to get something sometime and somewhere, but you wanted it now and the anticipation was killer.  Sometimes… when things get real thin- I email myself.  (Hangs head in shame)

When my phone shakes and makes noise that an email has finally come there is a little shot of dopamine that goes off in my brain.  I see white lights and hear music.  The subject line is the little teaser- telling me what goodies I might find inside.  (Incidentally, if it is a bad subject line I usually don’t open it for a few minutes.  I still get the rush of dopamine though.)

I am even excited to get emails from the deposed prince of Abu-Dabi.  I gave him my bank account number and am still waiting to get my share of his $80 Million dollar estate.  Incidentally, I now need someone to cosign on my next car.  Until I get my $8 million.

Perhaps it is a little compulsive (which is so out of character for me) but I do enjoy a good email every so often that makes me laugh or think.  I do hate forwards though.  Usually if I see a FW: in front of an email the DEL key is quick to follow.

Now that the internet knows this… send me an email– or better yet a carrier pigeon.


This isn’t me by the way… I am usually curled up on the floor around my computer.  Nobody wants to see those pictures, so I pilfered this one off the ‘net.
It has to be fake by the way: Notice the conscpicuous lack of drool.

The Best Meal… Ever! (Legendary Meals- Conclusion) September 22, 2007

Posted by rengawman in food, travel.
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For the last few days, I have been reminiscing about three of the four “Legendary Meals” that I was fortunate enough to partake in during my time in Europe.  From that first one on the beach in Pescara, to the memorable Roman fare that Sunday in December, the sights and the sounds of each one of those meals, including topics of conversation, are as vivid as if they had happened yesterday.  I will take that Bolognese until the day I die!

For the last installment in this series (and you are either starving or tired of hearing me talk about food) I will tell you of the best and most memorable meal I ever had in my life.  Truly, the Legendary Meal.  I wish I could accurately put into words how wonderful this experience was, but there is simply no way to even approximate what happened that wonderful day.

It was just after Easter, and my best friend Tony and I decided that a little trip to Paris was in order.  Paris is a lovely city, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.  The Parisians always helped me out if they thought I looked lost (possibly because I look German and maybe they thought I was trying to conquer them) (I had several simply surrendeder to me out of habit).  The city is clean and efficient- the people friendly (unless you butcher the language0 if you go just speak English)- the sights are breathtaking and the food is of course superb.

There are a lot of great stories about this particular trip, as it certainly had its ups and downs during the course of the week.  It turns out that another group of Americans from our college were also travling in Paris, and were staying in the same place we were.  So our groups melded and we ended up spending the week together touring the “City of Lights.”

Whether we ate baguettes from the store with some cheese, enjoyed the big bowls of coffee at the place we were staying for breakfast, or ate in a nice restaurant the food was always good. 

We did have to watch our budgets so we saved the nice place until the end.  One of the guys from the other group, Eric- a good man who once helped to save my life- said he knew of a place near the Church of St. Germain du Sulpisce.

We trusted him and went over- the night was cool as it was spring, and even a bit heavy with moisture.  When we walked into the restaurant it was like going to a whole new world.  It was like a little chalet in the middle of the bustling city of Paris.  It sort of reminded me of Frodo Baggins’ house in the first scene of Lord of the Rings

It was pristine in its decoration- it felt like we were eating at someone’s house.  Moreover, it felt like we were home!  That is how welcoming the people who owned and operated this place made us feel.  They treated us like kings, and Tony, Stephen, Eric, and myself all sat around this giant wooden table that you might see in some royal dining hall.  The sweet smell of the food cooking in the back filled the air.  There was only one other group of people there- a group of Parisians- so we knew we were in for a treat.

One of the things that made the dinner were, as I mentioned, the people who ran the establishment.  I really never got their names because of the accents, but they spoke wonderful english.  She was just so proud of the place that they had run for the past few years.  He was a rather tall and large man, not fat, just large.  They laughed a lot during our conversations- they were joyous people who loved each other and what they did for a living.  It came out in the food the served and the fact that they took some time to talk to us “ugly Americans.”

The food.

Oh the food.

There is no way to tell you what it was like.  We took the menu that they had prepared which turned out to be about a 5 course meal with appetizers salad and desert.  Really, there are two things worth mentioning specifically about this meal.

First was the fois gras- the patee.  Now perhaps the idea of goose liver doesn’t exactly make you salivate, but that just means you haven’t had the good stuff.  It came out on a little plate with three versions- each was so powerful and potenet in taste that it fill my entire head with flavor.  This is the hard part to describe- it seemed that rather than the flavor being in my mouth, I entered into the flavor.  It was sweet and sour in a perfect combination of the honey and the spices and the patee.

The other thing worth specifically mentioning was the steak.  The sauce on the steak again filled my head with flavor- it seemed that I entered into the experience of the steak itself.  The steak was tender and juicy and fell apart in my mouth.  It is as if the steak was making it easy for me to eat it!  Every bite was an experience.  (It was during this time that mad cow was being reported through France by the way, which may be the reason why I am why I am.  It was worth mad cow for this experience though.)

The wine was a deep red Cabernet that complimented the steak perfectly.  Our conversation was lively because of the fellowship we had from traveling together for the last week, and the fact this was our last night in Paris.  There was magic in the air that night- an unquenchable energy that is really indescribable.

Then from the other table of Parisians- a large group of about 20 or so, came over to our table.  It turns out that he was a professor from my university in Rome, the Gregorian University.  All of a sudden we were all in one large party of friends- the energy being contageous, the conversation fueled by good food, friendship, and of course wine.  The Parisians all spoke very nice English and were happy to converse with us.

It was so beautiful that one of us (not me, but I felt this way myself) began to tear up a little.  We didn’t deserve this, and we knew that what was going on was special.  I remember everything from that night- except the names of the people that owed the place- and the NAME of the restaurant.  I guess it is going to be like Brigadoon- something that only happens every few decades.

I am not sure any meal will ever come as close to this one- I entered flavor.  I still close my eyes and taste the fois gras and the honey.  I wish there were words to desribe this evening, but they have all fallen short of the true beauty that a dinner like this can bring.

Legendary Meal part 3 September 21, 2007

Posted by rengawman in food, travel.
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All this talk about food is making me hungry.  I ate whole box of pasta last night just thinking about yesterday’s post.  Maybe tonight, I’ll even cook it.  Crunchy.

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Franco    

As I write about these Legendary Meals, I realized that I am writing them in order of lowest to highest quality.  That is sort of like testing a low end Mercedes, and then testing a high end Mercedes.  Really, it only gets better from here.

Of course living in Rome for as long as I did, I had some fantastic and memorable meals.  In fact, I can safely say that I only had two bad meals my whole time in Rome.  Even the Burger King was great. (Yes… I ate Burger King on occasion because it made me feel like I was home, well, except for the mayonnaise on the french fries.  Plus, it made me appreciate the Italian food even more.)  It will be fun to tell you about those two bad meals some time because I remember them as well.

Because there were so many good meals out in the city of Rome, to say that I had a meal of “Legendary” status is saying a lot.

It was a Sunday morning in late December, and we had mozied over to see the noon “Angelus” with Pope John Paul II.  That is still a tradition where the Pope comes to his window, says some things in a couple of languages, gives a blessing and says a prayer.  This happens every Sunday, unless the Pope is on vacation. (I hear he likes the Grand Canyon!)

I usually didn’t go to these audiences because you had to fight 10,000 other people who also wanted to see the pope from hundreds of yards away, but I had some friends over from the States, and everybody needs to see the Pope.  It is sort of like going to Disney World and not seeing Mickey… it is just something you have to do.

Because it was Sunday we were all dressed up in our best attire, and after the Angelus, we got hungry.  At the bottom of the Janiculum Hill (where I lived in Rome) was a little restaurant that I had been to many many times called Sor’eva. (Corner of Via Gregorio Settimo and Lungo Tevere if you are ever in Rome.  Tell Franco I said hello).

It is your typical trattoria with great food and great fellows working there.  We walked in and the Roman families had already filled the place up.  It was raucous and loud with all the families in there which added to the usually tranquil atmosphere of Sor’Eva.  There was an energy there because it was Sunday and because the Italians still have retained the utter importance of family.

The food that day was superb- it was always good, but this day there was something special.  The cannelloni was spectacular.  It melted in your mouth and had a bit of ginger or something in it to give it a little kick.  There was actually a sort of mixed pasta plate that was being served to everyone there that day.  The cook really outdid himself.  If I close my eyes, I can still taste the cannelloni.  That is one of the requirements for a Legendary Meal if you recall.

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The atmosphere got louder as the wine was consumed.  Us being poor students, we could only afford the house wine, which of course was great, but the Romans were either drinking the good stuff, or actually brought their own! 

That is where the fun started- we weren’t the only ones dressed up- The Romans are fashionable people from birth to death and this day was no different.  All of a sudden all the tables began to talk to each other, whether they knew each other or not, and they didn’t leave us out of it.  We were all of a sudden being invited to share the good wine with the other tables- there was a mix of Italian and English being spoken, as the wine loosened everyone’s inhibition for language.  The whole restaurant- mostly Romans and us four Americans began to have lunch together in one huge party!  Even the waiters joined in!  The energy level in the room, already hightened by the families and the kids, good food and wine, rose exponetially!  You could have powered a small city!

Again, as all Legendary Meals, it was a timeless moment- a furious exchange of laughs and the clinking of glasses.  The Romans loved us and we loved them!  I was able to participate even more than my friends as my Italian by this point (with the help of some wine) was perfect.  We felt like Romans that day!

I have eaten at Sor’Eva a dozen times (or more) since that day in December of 2002.  I am friends with the staff, and they have some great and wonderful food and atmosphere.  If you are ever in Rome and near the Vatican looking for a place to eat, it is worth the extra couple of minutes of walking- go, especially if it is on a Sunday! 

Ask for Franco.