Small bites

When you work amongst food editors, the office potluck takes on new meaning.

Photo courtesy Becky Gissell

See those yellow and green pinwheels in the forefront?  They’re supposed to be rotolini ala crema de fave, stuffed mini pancakes with fava bean cream. my contribution to today’s cicchetti office potluck.

A sister imprint has a book out on cicchetti — aka Venetian tapas — so we thought we’d experiment.  (Read more about cicchetti the tradition and the book at

I say “supposed to be” because I didn’t actually start cooking until 10.30 pm and had found my neighborhood market lacking in robiola cheese, fava beans, even edamame.  So instead I used goat cheese and spinach to make the vibrant filling around which I wrapped prosciutto and egg pancakes, which in my version turned out to be more like paper-thin crepes.

In all, I probably followed 50 percent of the recipe. The rest was innovation and experimentation.  I made it up as I went along, with the resources I had at hand.  Refusing to give up in the face of lacking fidelity to the original.

Not a bad life lesson, I think, and one which I had applied earlier in the evening as well.

The reason I didn’t start cooking until 10.30 pm was that I had decided to participate in the Paul Madore Chorale’s annual summer sing.

It’s a grand tradition where volunteer musicians — singers and instrumentalists — gather each summer Monday on the second floor of Salem’s Old Town Hall to sing choral masterworks.  Think: Faure’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria.

Many bring their own scores carried through a lifetime of singing this repertory, though there are scores there for the borrowing as well.

There’s no rehearsal to speak of, or pursuit of perfection.  It’s about reaching out to remember the not quite forgotten.

Last night we say Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, which I not only had never sung before but had no idea what it was about.  While much of the dramatic score is familiar from movies, I got the distinct impression we were not singing about Jesus.

And indeed, at the interval, I sussed out that we were singing medieval Latin drinking songs!

In taberna quando sumus When we are in the tavern,
non curamus quid sit humus, we do not think how we will go to dust,
sed ad ludum properamus, but we hurry to gamble,
cui semper insudamus. which always makes us sweat.

I only managed to get half these words out, but I tried and I learned and the next time some fancy-pants starts talking about Carmina Burana I’ll smile inside.

I tried that once.

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