My first tornado warning, the mystery of lemon peel and espresso, and air guitar nation

My yesterday evening took me from one extreme to another to another. I was traveling from an account visit in Grapevine near Dallas, Texas to downtown Dallas for dinner with colleagues when I experienced my first Texas tornado warning. The voice of an NPR announcer on the radio gave way to an ominous and long monotone followed by “we interrupt this broadcast…” No tornado has arrived but man, they don’t joke around when it comes to weather in northern Texas. The lightening I’ve seen elsewhere doesn’t even come close in spectacle to the fulminous displays you witness around these parts.

The next extreme came in the form of dinner with Italian Wine Guy (above, left) and his ride-with for the day, Andrea Lonardi (right), director of winemaking for one of the world’s largest wine conglomerates, Gruppo Italiano Vini. Veneto by birth, Andrea makes wine across peninsular and insular Italy and beyond our conversation on our shared love of the Veneto and its language and traditions, Andrea unraveled a mystery that has plagued me for many years: why is lemon zest served with espresso? When I lived Northern Italy, lemon zest or lemon juice was served with coffee to stimulate regurgitation: when you’re sick to your stomach, you drink coffee with lemon to help you “evacuate.” Evidently, Andrea’s travels have taken him to corners of rural Sicily where two “shots” of espresso — made from old-style manual espresso presses — are served in one demitasse and the passed from one patron to another: the first patron wipes the edge of the demitasse with the lemon zest for hygiene. In Italian, you say chi non beve in compagnia o è un ladro o una spia, literally, he who doesn’t drink in company is a thief or a spy. Sicilian omertà, noted Andrea, applies also to coffee.

The final extreme came in the form of an encounter with the reigning Air Guitar World Champion, Hot Lixx Hulahan (above, left). He, Stryker (center), and my Nous Non Plus bandmate Björn Türoque are on tour for the U.S. Air Guitar Championship and they happened to have a night off in Dallas. So, we caught up over beers at the end of the night before I drove back to Italian Wine Guy’s place (where he lets me crash when I work the market here) in the rain. It was great to see Björn (aka Dan Crane) and his lovely lady Kate.

Life is certainly never boring and I’m always amazed by its richness and extremities.

But I miss Tracie B and I can’t wait to get back to Austin…