Syrahlandia (no matter where you go, there you are)

Above: Yesterday was devoted to a sprucing up of our patio for summer, including the purchase of a grill and the grilling of some pork chops and sausage. Tracie P made her classic penne al pomodoro and an amazing cilantro, avocado, and black-eyed pea salad. Palazzino Chianti Classico — grapey and juicy — paired nicely with all of the above.

When you go to Italy, do you order hamburgers, that quintessential dish of Americana? I know of at least one ex-pat blogger who has probably tried (perhaps inspired by nostalgia?) every hamburger in Rome. At nearly every instance, she emerges bitterly disappointed.

Last week, while working in New York City with some Italian colleagues, I was amazed at one woman’s continued bewilderment at the American convention of tipping. “Why should I tip? Why is it not already included in the bill like in Italy? It said ‘tip’ on the credit card receipt so I thought it was included?” It was a sort of cognitive dissonance: despite my assurance that tipping is a widely embraced convention of the U.S. restaurant industry (where her client hopes to sell its wines one day), she just couldn’t wrap her mind around the thought of leaving a tip.

As St. Augustine once said, in a observation about fasting schedules in Milan as opposed to Rome, when in Rome, order a hamburger.

My bewilderment at her bewilderment came to mind when a friend forwarded me a tweet from a man who needs no introduction here, James Suckling:

    Tasted some wonderful Syrahs! 2007 is a great year for Syrah in Tuscany!!

When in Tuscany, do as the Tuscans do: drink Syrah (???).

Last week I found myself bewildered at a quasi apology that Mr. Suckling offered for a wine he gave 92 points out of 100 (a hefty score in a world driven by score-based sales revenue): “Not a big wine,” he wrote of the wine made from 100% Sangiovese, an indigenous grape of Tuscany, “but balanced and pretty.”

Thinking of my colleague the reluctant tipper and the ex-pat in Rome who orders hamburgers, it occurred to me that — like Plato’s man in the cave — we all see the world as projected by the lens of our previous experiences.

It makes perfect sense that Mr. Suckling would apologize from the lighter-bodied style of Il Poggione’s traditional-style Brunello since he clearly loves the richer, “big” style of (international grape, traditionally grown in the Rhône valley) Syrah grown in Tuscany. (I know for example that he loves the wines made by my and his friend Cinzia Merli at Le Macchiole, where a 100% Syrah is vinified in a opulent, rich style, definitely a “big” wine.)

In Italian you say, paesi che vai, usanze che trovi. In other words, you will find different customs in every village or country where you go.

When in Syrahlandia, do as the Syrahlandians do. Drink Syrah.

Or, in the words of Buckaroo Banzai, Hey, hey, hey, hey-now. Don’t be mean; we don’t have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

Buona domenica, ya’ll!

8 thoughts on “Syrahlandia (no matter where you go, there you are)

  1. @Barolista I do love that wine. I was doing a little reading on their site and I think like so many Chianti producers, the lower level wines like the Argenina that we had last night, are the best wines because they are not barriqued. Did you see Lettie’s article on Chianti in WSJ? thanks for stopping by and for the comment! :-)

  2. Jeremy:

    A nice post. Thanks for passing on Suckling’s note about the Syrahs. You know, just this afternoon I was wondering about the latest releases of Syrah from Tuscany. How gratifying that the ’07s are special. Now I can sleep peacefully!

  3. with the dearth of Syrahs from the world it’s nice to know that Tuscany is stepping up and helping us all out. And kudos to James Suckling for breaking the news and shedding the light. Now pass the burgers and fries, please!

  4. Yes… It’s near impossible to teach someone that they have the “freedom” to tip, when they come from a place where they are forced to – regardless of the service they may receive. So in turn, I guess she exercised her new found freedom by choosing not to tip – to think otherwise would be… well you know… being bewildered is giving a lot of credit – so to speak. Rearranging the furniture in one’s head has always been a most difficult prospect. “No matter where you go…?” – “When in Rome” has always been so much more “enlightened.”

  5. @Tom and Alfonso when I asked him on Twitter the other day (and I’m 100% serious about this), James would not reveal what goes into the preparation of his “Super Tuscan Burger.” Oy…

    @Charlie thanks for stopping by! So geeked to see you @dobianchi! And btw, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!” Remember that one, Rude Boy?

  6. Yes! I remember – still riding that “rock ‘n’ roller coaster.”
    Always reading the wonderful insights @dobianchi (rarely commenting)… Thanks for sharing “you” with “us.” . . . also – very stoked and surprised with every Vajra we open (from the last 6 or 7 pack offering)… Thanks again!

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