Yesterday, at about 7 o’clock in the evening, I felt compelled to go for a run. This happens about six times a year. I had some very exciting new pop songs on my iShuffle and I was eager to test-drive them. I started out just fine but come the second song, Paparazzi by Lada Gaga I believe, it became increasingly difficult to move my legs. I wanted to run like the wind but my old ham-hocks felt like they were being weighed down by bricks. And my hips hurt too. But I told myself that I would run for the duration of six songs. The pain was so bad that I wasn’t running very fast. In fact, I was sort of speed-walking, or maybe tip-toeing. It was quite sad.
And then, as soon as Beyonce’s Halo came on, I saw another runner, who was uncomfortably close, pass me on the park path.
Foodie (in my mind): Who the fuck does that asshole think he is? Wait a second. Why is he running like such an idiot? And why does he have a suit jacket and jeans on? Oh, that’s the Beast!
Foodie: What are you doing? How did you find me? What’s going on right now?
Beast: I saw you in the park. Oh my god–joke running is so hard! I’m exhausted! (panting).
Foodie: You weren’t watching me run, were you?
Beast (still panting): For a little bit.
Foodie: How absurd did I look? It feels like I have metal hips right now and normally I run so much faster but I can barely move my legs.
Beast: You looked fine!
Foodie: Running shouldn’t be about vanity, I know, but you really have to believe me that the way you just saw me running is in no way indicative of my normal running speed or style.
Beast: Do you want to walk home with me or do you want to keep running?
Foodie: Well, I’ve already run for four songs. That’s probably 20 minutes.
Beast: That’s probably 15 minutes.
Foodie: No, these were epic songs. I think we better walk.
So we did. In fact, we walked past home and to our local video store to pick out a movie. Inside, the Beast held up a DVD of a Mozart documentary for my consideration.
Foodie: You’ve got to be joking! It’s Canada’s Day. We should be celebrating–not watching documentaries.
Beast: Fine, I’ll take a look in the German and Scandinavian section.
Foodie: No way! New releases only!
Beast: Wait! I’ve got it–I’ve been trying to make you watch this movie since our first date and tonight is the night.
The Beast handed me a movie called, “Marty”. It won several Academy Awards in 1955. It looked like a real gem of a film about a bachelor, played by Ernest Borgnine, who lives with his Italian mother and works at a butcher shop in Brooklyn and who’s painfully shy and has trouble meeting girls. Of course, he meets a girl by the end of the film.
Foodie: This looks great! But you’ve never suggested that I watch it before.
Beast: Excuse me? I always pick this up when we’re here and you always walk away to look at TV series or to the Merchant-Ivory section.
Foodie: I love period pieces.
Beast: We’re getting this.
Foodie: I’m not saying we’re not. I think the movie looks great. Are we allowed to get ice cream right now?
So we rented Marty and walked home with ice cream in waffle cones.
Foodie: This is the best Canada’s Day I’ve ever had.
Beast: Will you stop calling it Canada’s Day? It’s CANADA Day.
Foodie: Was I really saying Canada’s Day? That’s hilarious! I had no idea. That’s a good joke.
Beast: It’s not a joke because you weren’t consciously deciding to say Canada’s Day to be funny.
Foodie: I am so hungry.
Beast: What’s for dinner again?
Foodie: Only one of my favourite meals in the world.
And I nearly forgot about it! It’s the simplest thing really: grill some summer vegetables and serve with mozzarella di bufala. Done. I had it once at a restaurant in Florence about eight years ago and then I proceeded to recreate the meal once or twice a week while I lived in that glorious city. I raved about it so much when I got back to Toronto that Giovanna even created a similar dish at the restaurant where we worked to shut me up. She’d grill endive and radicchio to serve with the mozzarella, and I believe she added a few slices of prosciutto di Parma to boot.
Beast: What the fuck is that?
Foodie: It’s fennel. And in the other bowl there’s some zucchini and red pepper. I’ve got asparagus too.
Beast: Where are the sausages?
Foodie: I didn’t take them out of the fridge because I thought this was enough.
Beast: (grabbing the sausages from the fridge and heading upstairs to light the barbecue.) Make yourself useful and fix me a drink–I’ll take some J&B on the rocks please.
Foodie: But I have a nice rosé I want to open!
Beast: I’ll have some of that when we eat.
Foodie: Oh this is going to be so good! I love this meal. I can’t believe we haven’t had it in so long.
Beast: Where did you get the bufala?
Foodie: From Terroni.
Beast: How much were they?
Foodie: 75 cents per little ball.
Beast: Why don’t we eat mozzarella di bufala all the time?
Foodie: Well a dozen balls cost nine dollars. That’s actually cheaper than a big ball which usually cost upwards of twelve bucks.
The Beast just looked at me like I was Canada’s-Day-Crazy. But dinner was done so we laid out our spread and got ready to watch Marty.
I prepared my plate and poured myself some more rosé. The site of my simple and perfect feast made me grin from ear to ear. It’s the thrill of mixing and matching all those flavours, and the texture of the slightly crunchy, just-charred vegetables next to the oh-so-buttery, melt-in-your mouth mozzarella that makes this a meal I will never tire of.
Not four minutes into the film did I look over at the Beast to find his eyes glazed over.
Foodie: Are you crying?
Foodie: But the movie just started. Are you okay?
Beast: It’s Ernest Borgnine’s face. It just kills me.
Foodie: It’s a really good face.
Beast: Yes it is.
It’s a really good movie too. I especially liked the scenes of the old Italian mammas bickering with their adult kids and how Marty the butcher is worried about the new “supermarkets” coming in and ruining his business.
We sat there, with our glossy eyes and glasses of rosé, watching our movie and feeling so very content, while the whistling and popping of fireworks outside sounded in the distance.