The Wednesday edition of the The New York Times and its Dining and Wine section is a weekly event for food and wine writers and culinary professionals (New Yorkers and the rest of them west of the Hudson river).
Today’s section caused many of us in the wine world to drool with envy: Eric Asimov published a great story about Barolo and a recent tasting he attended. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime affairs (unfortunately not yet in my life!). I really like how Eric puts Barolo — a wine so misunderstood by so many — into perspective. Check out his post on the tasting at his blog (essential reading for me). It will surely make your mouth water (and bring tears of envy to your eyes as it did to mine).
Florence Fabricant doesn’t have a blog but she did do a great piece on guanciale in today’s somewhat Italophile edition of the Dining and Wine section. She writes: “Guanciale, which means pillow, a description of its shape, has an especially rich, sweetly porky flavor and a buttery texture.” It’s true that guanciale means “pillow” but in another context — that of medieval and Renassiance-era armor — it denotes the cheek pieces that were often attached to helmets (see illustration above, upper left-hand corner). It’s derived from the Italian guancia, which means “cheek” (from the old German, wanga or wanka, akin to the old English wang).
The suffix -ale is very common in Italian (as in nazione, nazionale), hence, guanciale from guancia.
Guanciale — the cured pork — is made from cured pig jowl (the part that runs from the head to the shoulder). So, it’s more likely that guanciale, when used in a gastronomic context, is more akin to “cheek” than it is to “pillow.”
I was so green with envy after reading Eric’s blog that I just had to point that out…
In other news…
I was really glad to see that a Sex Workers Outreach Program linked to my post on Sugo alla puttanesca: “Prostitutes are not responsible for the naming of an Italian dish” (scroll down the page).