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Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fun at the Italian Fest

Last week was the annual Italian Festival down on Hertel Ave. For those who aren't familiar with it, think of Hertel Ave as a main street through a small town. North Buffalo, while technically just a neighborhood in the city of Buffalo, is really almost a small town itself, populated heavily by Italian immigrants and their descendants.

ES1 was released from work early, so we were able to make the rounds before the major crowds showed up. It was refreshing to be able to go to a street festival in Buffalo and actually have some breathing room. After we had some dinner, we decided to go to a cooking demonstration/book signing by Mary Ann Esposito.

I was only marginally familiar with her. She has had a cooking show on PBS for 17 years. I haven't watched PBS regularly in roughly that amount of time. Trying to find the schedule for her show was an exercise in frustration, as PBS stations set their own schedules, and the schedules tend to be a bit, shall we say, erratic. Still, ES1's mother is a huge fan (we actually purchased one of her cookbooks as a gift for her recently), so I figured we'd stop by.

When we arrived, we took up a spot in the back. ES1 pointed her out to me. At the same time, she, and then her producer gestured over in our direction. ES1 then departed to get herself a glass of wine.

While ES1 was away, her producer, Paul Lally, came over to me and told me that she was taking a few assistant chef volunteers from the audience. He told me that she had seen me and asked me to be one of them. I gladly accepted. ES1 was elated to hear this. She began taking a few shots with the camera on her Treo. We kicked ourselves for not bringing the real camera, but the tiny pictures are better than nothing.

My segment was the 4th and final. We watched the other cooks assist, and then I was brought up. I noted that the ingredients on the table included prosciutto, small fresh mozzarella balls, chunks of bread, fresh basil, and sharp parmesan.

Now, for those of you who do not know me, I have a love/hate relationship with cheese. Mozzarella, and other cheeses are fine with me - but only if they have been melted. I can take them cold, but they need to be cooked and melted first. Desserts based on cheese, like cassatta cake, are fine because the massive loads of sugar take care of the texture. In small amounts, I enjoy the addition of parmesan to certain foods.

In pretty much all other cases, cheese will immediately invoke my gag reflex. My entire system will immediately reject it. For the first 10 years of my life, my parents required me to try cheese once a year. It generally took me several hours to choke it down.

I was a bit nervous, but none of the other people had been asked to taste food, so I figured it was fine.

During the course of conversation, I let slip that I did not like cheese. She could not believe that anyone would not like cheese. She then took a section of very sharp parmesan, a triangle 1 inch wide and 2 inches long, and shoved it right in my mouth.

I suppressed the reflex, choked most of it down, but the last parts I simply could not handle. As she saw the oncoming regurgitation, she said I could run to spit it out for a second. I dove behind the stage, grabbed a water bottle (belonging to lord knows who) and washed it down quickly. I recovered, came back on, and finished the segment.

ES1 was nearly in stitches. She promised to tell the story to our grandchildren at our 50th wedding anniversary. Paul told me that he would be editing that out, but that I could email him to get a copy of the outtakes. When I get those, I will post them over at our homepage.

Other than that, I had a great time. I was not as nervous onstage as I thought I might have been. I was told that I looked very comfortable. Afterwards, we purchased a book and had it, as well as my apron, signed.

The Episode of Ciao Italia will air sometime in next year's season. As soon as I find out when, I will post the time. Until then, here are the rest of the photos we took.

Coming up: ES1's baking tips!

1 Comments:

Anonymous Jenn said...

That's kind of crappy that she made you eat something that you clearly have issues with, but it's still pretty cool that you got to be an assistant. :)

11:29 AM  

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