Right now you should know that I’m distracted. Today I spent the day traveling through the Tuscan countryside, and I started jotting down notes on an essay on masks. So far I’m calling it: “A Disturbance on One Face.” The essay is a fusion of personal narrative and cultural madness. From Joan Didion’s “White Album” essay to the Susan Faludi profile of Shulie Firestone to the Clark Rockefeller trial, from Picasso to Dostoyevsky, the The Red Shoes fairytale and an episode of The Twilight Zone, I’ve become fixated on the mask that is one’s face. The internal fissure, the external cracking. So it’s hard, as you can imagine, to turn back the clock and talk about what happened yesterday when all I want to do is get on with the work.
Hemingway once said that one should never write until the well is bone dry. You still need to tread to the deep, so lay down the pen and walk away, and come back when the well swells and threatens to drown again. Or something to that effect.
But I digress.
On the way to find the Mercato Centrale, a place that has been known to send foodies into ecstasies, I discovered a “pop-up” market of sorts, Il Mercarto Dei Sapori. A highly-curated affair, the traveling market features tastes and traditions from all over Italy, including Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy, Tuscany and Emilia. You’ll find fine leather goods, hand-carved soaps, local wines, oils, honeys, truffles and vinegars, and more importantly the abundance of cured and smoked meats, cheeses, handmade pastas, sweets and breads. I spent two hours sampling chocolate covered dried fruits, focaccia, cantucci and so many flavors of Italy and fell madly in love.
One extraordinary stand-out: Antico Forno Santi. Their cookies were arranged in grand baskets veiled in cloth, and they were tender, crumbly, sweet and baked to perfection. I secured a mixed bag of typical biscotti, bruto bruno (!!!) and hoards of other treats. As I type, I keep slipping my hand in this forbidden bag, itching to get on with my essay.