Buona Domenica con gli ravioli alla Luciannone

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. We just finished the original dish of ravioli with a San Marzano tomato sauce with shrimp, scalops and walnuts; in the middle there is a ball of Burrrata cheese. How does it look like? You are cordially invited. Let’s sit down to eat dinner together.

Raviolada alla Luciannone

Stat distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Sunday with family cooking

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday. We are getting ready to prepare one of our children’s favorite pasta dishes: ravioli alla Luciannone.  This unique pasta dish with shellfish in a tomato sauce was named in honor of the great Luciano Pavarotti; we had the honor to personally meet him in a fundraising event of the Scuola Italiana Guglielmo Marconi where Noël Marie attended school while we were studying at Columbia University.

Material para la raviolada

The pasta are ravioli of spinach and ricotta cheese from Mr. Pasta; the rest of the excellent yet affordable  ingredients were obtained at Whole Foods supermarket.

Sat distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Are we becoming indifferent to Death?

-“Doctor…my mother got infected in her New Jersey nursing home— she died alone.”

The patient (whom we will not identify even with a fantasy name) mentioned this terrible piece of news “a la pasada” [i], without even a hint of emotional angst. We do not doubt that, whatever the circumstances of their bonding, she might have been saddened by the loss, compounded by the cruel isolation of the pandemic. However, her tone of voice clearly expressed the exhaustion we suffer with the interminable list of new infections and deaths in the USA, the hardest hit country due to Public Health mistakes.

We must confess that we personally do not watch or read the about the latest developments all day long, every day. In the morning we dutifully peruse the online editions of The Washington Post and The New York Times while we are having some breakfast. When we are working in our office we might alternatively tune in to radio programs from France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and Uruguay. Finally in the evening we watch the news in CNN, RAI, France 2 and Telefe for two hours. Really? That much?However, in the late evenings we prefer to enjoy a Netflix series or a movie. On Sundays we read the papers in the morning and then binge-watch all kind of sports.

Even tough we are well informed about the daily tally of victims in many parts of the planet, we noticed that we are becoming a little bit more numbed every day to the sheer magnitude of the terrible sanitary and economic tragedy we are bearing. Recently we were shocked when we learned that a parking attendant in the Miami facility (where we do consulting work) had contracted the disease and passed away a few days later. However, we are trying hard not to be overwhelmed by the daily stories of suffering. Sadly, it might be the only way to control our anxiety and remain operational for the daily tasks we are supposed to carry on with integrity, endurance, and expertise. Given that this pandemic will last many more months, how will we end up emotionally?

There are a few critically important books that you read early on and then for some catastrophic circumstances like this pandemic, you feel obligated to go back to. The short novel L’étranger [ii]created by Albert Camus early on his career is one of them. We first read it in one of our clandestine raids of our dear father Mario’s library and we absolutely did not like it due to its unabashed nihilism throughout its pages. We  forgot about it until two years ago our son Giani gave us another copy as a gift. We looked at it with curiosity but put it in a bookshelf without much afterthought.

During the forced Social Isolation we have endured, we snooped at many books we have largely ignored, for various reasons; it did not take long to catch our attention. There was and still is a good reason: its brutal nihilism is in sync with our mood. The central character, succinctly named as Meursault, is a lower level functionary in the French bureaucracy of colonized Algeria that commits an irrational crime in an ordinary day and is tried for it. The narration is anchored by three major instances of indifference:

  1. Indifference No.1: the death of his mother. The book start with this line: “Today, mother died. Or yesterday, I can’t remember.” [iii] The initial 30 pages are filled with he mechanically detached account of his “participation” in his mother’s funeral, without ever expressing a hint of sadness or desperation.
  2. Indifference No.2: the killing of the Arab. During a Sunday outing to the beach with friends, Meursault provokes a fight with an innocent and murders him. The exact moment of the crime is described as: “all my being tightened up and I wrapped my hand around the revolver. The trigger ceded…” [iv]
  3. Indifference No.3: the end of his life. After the initial deception of being condemned to death, instead of being acquitted with a short prison sentence, Meursault accepts his end with resignation. The book ends like this: “In order for everything to be consumed, in order for me to feel less lonely, the only thing I had left was to hope that there would be a lot of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet with shouts of hate.” [v]

Meursault is marked by a triple indifference that conveys the idea that there is no sense in human existence and that we should not waste any time trying to find it. He incarnates the philosophical movement of Existentialism that was totally seducing  the European intelligentsia when the book was first published in 1942. Dismissing the great humanistic heritage of the Old Continent and the religious experiences of many faiths, that intellectual mode infected and paralyzed many learned spirits. Why bother to study, work, make families, etc.,  if everything is finally senseless? Better do nothing and rest.

There are two major ways in which the same Albert Camus renege from that failing philosophical stand. First of all, his prose—initially considered too simple and worthy of a simpleton by the French intellectual mandarins of that time—shows a richness of details that turn it into a truly sensorial tour de force. In the program L’heure Bleu [vi] of Radio France Inter for four consecutive days they presented a recording of the very same Camus reading chapters of this book. His clear voice, his rhythmic progression of the story and his unrelenting enthusiasm showed that he was satisfied with his writings, for which he had certainly invested a lot of time and efforts. Nothing is casual there.

Camus died prematurely after a fatal car accident that fortunately spared his kids. He showed until the very end of his life an uncompromising intellectual stand and participated in progressive causes, surely minding the future of his children. He nonetheless believed that Algeria, his country of birth, could remain as a French colony, albeit with many civic and economic improvements for natives. Until today. Algerians have a difficult, ambivalent attitude towards his figure and influence in their society.

After reading several books that he wrote later, we believe that Camus outgrew that initial phase of Existentialism and he came to appreciate Life’s value. Similarly we must understand that one day this horrible pandemic will cease, and we will be able to resume our lives, albeit in a rather modified and weird way. The fact that Death is so omnipresent in our daily lives does not mean that we have to give up living and working towards the future of our children; on the contrary we must strive more forcefully to create a much better society for them. Thank you Giani for giving us this opportunity.

Featured image is a famous scene form Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Death and Antonius Block chose sides for a game of chess.

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23256490

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

References

[i] Expression in the Castilian language that would mean: “something done as if you were passing by it and peeking from the side of your eye.” It gives an idea of emotional detachment, of hurriedness, of not really caring about it.

[ii] Albert Camus, L’étranger, Editions Gallimard, Paris, 1942.

[iii] Ibidem as above. Page 9. Our translation.

[iv] Ibidem as above. Page 93. Our translation.

[v] Ibidem as above. Page 93. Our translation.

[vi] https://www.franceinter.fr/emissions/l-heure-bleue

A nice sandwich to start our morning

Dear readers and fellow bloggers;

Good morning. Today we decided to throw caution out of the window and prepare a nice sandwich with freshly baked multi-grain bread with Prosciutto di Parma, Swiss cheese and a touch of artisanal cream cheese. All these items were delivered by Whole Foods to us. What do you want us to say? Life is too short, folks.

Sanguche de Prosciutto di Parma y queso suizo

You are cordially invited to share it with us. Buon apetitto!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Obesity is shifting the Covid-19 infection to younger people

The carelessly hasty re-opening of most places of big public gatherings like bars and restaurants, without a statewide mandate to wear a face mask and to keep social distancing, produced a tragic spike of new Covid-19 infections in the state of Florida. In late March, the state authorities were gloating about the supposedly “mild” and “manageable” number of infected persons in our state, compared to New York. The influx of thousands of tourists fleeing the pandemic in the North and the crowding of beaches and entertaining venues produced a disastrous sanitary picture at present.

One of the associate factors that might have had a critical influence could have been the high incidence of Obesity in young people in Florida and the nation as a whole. S.L. Philip et al studied the state’s adult obesity rate by using the electronic health records (EHRs) available from the statewide clinical data research network called the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium—filled with data from claims of more than 12 million patients of the Sunshine State. They found that: “Among the 1,344,015 adults in OneFlorida with HER data and who met inclusion criteria, the obesity rate was 37.1%. Women had higher obesity rates compared with men. Obesity rates varied within racial/ethnic groups, with the highest rate among African-Americans (45.7%)” [i] The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation prepared a report in 2018 called the National Report of Children’s Health where they found that the state of Florida ranked 13th in the nation with their rate of childhood obesity.[ii]

Graselli, Zangrillo and Zanella studied the characteristics and outcomes of 1591 patients infected with Covid-19 that were subsequently admitted to Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in the region of Lombardy in Italy; they found that their median age of 63 years, with only 203 patients (13%) younger than 51 years old.[iii] The initial epidemic outbreak in the province of Wuhan, China, had a similar age prevalence. When the pandemic struck the USA, similar results were expected, especially because, at least initially, the national and state authorities were mistakenly giving a “modicum of assurance” to young segments of the population as they emphasized the higher incidence in patients older than 65 years old and with chronic conditions.

In a recent communication to The Lancet, David A. Kass at al. wrote: “However, as the pandemic hit the Johns Hopkins Hospital in late March 2020, younger patients began to be admitted to our ICU, many of whom were also obese.” Slowly but surely, other professionals started to communicate that obesity was an underappreciated risk factor for the disease. The USA has a general prevalence of 40 % of Obesity in its population, compared to a meagre 6% in China, where the pandemic had started.[iv]

Using the least squares univariate and multivariate linear regression, they studied the data from 265 patients (58% of whom were males) that had been admitted to several major medical centers, including Johns Hopkins, to determine the relationship of body mass index (BMI) and age in patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They found an inverse correlation between age and BMI, whereby younger patients admitted to ICUs were more likely to be obese; there were no gender differences. They said that: “Obesity can restrict ventilation by impeding diaphragm excursion, impairs immune response to viral infection, is pro-inflammatory and induces diabetes and oxidant stress to adversely affect cardiovascular function.” [v]

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

Picture provided by: JoachimKohlerBremen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58168999

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

References

[i] S.L. Filipp, M.Cardel, J.Hall et al., Characterization of adult obesity in Florida using the One Florida Clinical Research Consortium, Obesity science Practice 2018 August; 4(4):308-317. Published online 2018 June 15.

[ii] https://rwjf.org

[iii] Graselli G., Zangrillo A., Zanella A. et al., Baseline characteristics and outcomes of 1591 patients infected with SARS-Cov-2 admitted to ICUs in the Lombardy Region, Italy, Journal of the American Medical association (JAMA) 2020; published online April 6, 20202.

[iv] David A. Kass, Priya Duggal, Oscar Cingolani, Obesity could shift sever COVID-19 disease to younger ages, Correspondence, The Lancet, Published online April 30, 2020.

[v] Ibidem as above.

Gnocchiatta alla LiDea

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. We finally prepared the pasta dish we had mentioned in the previous posting and are about to sit down to enjoy it with our family. In honor of one of our most loyal readers and fellow blogger, Ms. LiDea, we will name it in her honor; we hope to prepare it live for her one day in her Russian home. Grazie per tuo aiuto cara LiDea.

Noquis con caviar

We prepared potato and spinach gnocchi with a mixed sauce of tomato, shrimp and lobster, topped with avocado and that ultimately decadent necessity: caviar.

Do you think it came out creamy enough? I don’t know…Anyway, buon apetitto.

Noqueada con caviar II

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Sunday with nice family cooking

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy Sunday to you all. As we were very busy the last 29th day of the month, we could not prepare the traditional gnocchiata. With a vengeance, today we are preparing potato and spinach gnocchi with shrimp and caviar in a lobster sauce. Let’s see how it turns out to be. We promise to post the corresponding pictures later on. All these ingredients were obtained from Mr. Pasta and our local Whole Foods store.

Noqueada con caviar I

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Thank you Mister Pasta

In the River Plate (geographic area that encompasses the socio-economic integration of the Argentine provinces of Entre Rios, Santa Fé and Buenos Aires plus the southern part of Uruguay)  we are used to visit the local pasta shop to buy fresh tagliarini, ravioli, gnocchi, fusilli, etc., plus artisanal sauces and grated cheese for our traditional Sunday family lunch. As we are mostly descendants of Italians, we value the opportunity to connect with our close family members through a nice meal. “La pasta del domingo” is much, much more that a dish that will be summarily consumed. It is a precious ritual.

For the past thirty years we have enjoyed that unique opportunity in South Florida thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Mr. Jorge Stekelorum, who designed a superb pastificio called Mr. Pasta in Miami Beach (Instagram address: mrpastamiami )

We introduce you to Mr. Jorge who, true to his vocation of pastaio dal cuore, keeps “las manos en la masa”; he is preparing the dough for the spinach tagliarini and fettuccini.

Tallarinada I

After preparing the dough in that old Italian machine, he will cut it and leave it to dry.

Tallarinada II

In order to complete the numerous orders ( his shop provides pasta to many restaurants in South Florida) he can count on the priceless help of his wife Melanitt (too shy to allow us to take her picture but she is very beautiful, take our word) and two young and eager assistants named Harriet and Camila. In the following picture you can see the latter preparing by hand the traditional potato, spinach or cheese dumplings called gnocchi.

Prpeaprando la noqueada I

The working area is properly clean and they follow all the sanitary regulations of Dade County and the City of Miami Beach.If you live or are visiting the area, please stop by to say hello, buy some pasta or peruse some of the imported gourmet items they exhibit.

Prparando la noqueada II

In these times of Social Distancing where families are spending more time together, including preparing some delicious dishes at home, this is a great place to shop and seek advice. Mr. Jorge will gladly inform you about the different choices of fresh and frozen pasta; moreover, they have several varieties of prepared sauces to accompany them.

Buon apetitto!

Mr. Pasta, Gourmet Pasta Shoppe

7311 Collins Avenue, Miami Breach, Fl 33141

Tel: (305) 866-8020

mrpastausa@hotmail.com

http://www.mrpastausa.com

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Fourth of July

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. We wish all our American relatives and friends a Happy Fourth of July. Today we celebrate the national day of a unique country that, even with its many flaws, has been a great nation of socio-economic opportunities since it was founded in 1776.

Today we are having a very subdued celebration due to the ravages of the pandemic in our society, with millions of infected people and, sadly, too many deaths already. However, we believe that finally the local and state authorities have realized that this is a problem that will not go away with silly magical thinking and improvised measures.

Here in Dade County the beaches have been rightly closed for the whole weekend and there is curfew from 10 PM until 6 AM to dissuade people to carelessly congregate. Only with the concerted and honest effort of all the major institutions of society and the common citizenry will we be able, not only to surmount these sanitary challenges, but also to face the drastic economic consequences of the upcoming New World Order.

The American people will find the wherewithal , enthusiasm and faith to surpass them.

Happy Fourth of July!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Sunday with a hearty breakfast

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy Sunday. Today we are slowly starting our day with a hearty breakfast of a salmon and mozzarella omelette with naans, empanadas, grapefruit and strawberry yogurt.

Desayuno campero

Bon apétit!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Say beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.