Monday, August 4, 2014

Close, but no cigar. Or: Please don't sniff the cello

Valentino and I frequently hold Battle of the Mediterranean.*


In his corner: Italy, from whence come sauces and spices and flavor and deliciousness in all forms (mostly).**


In my corner: Portugal, from whence comes chourico. Apparently other things too, but 1. My Portuguese is watered down with English and Irish and 2. My Portuguese people are not fans of spices or flavor. Five or so years ago, when my son (who is 26? 27? Math is hard.) had his first meal at Valentino's house, his face lit up with his first bite. "Mom," he said, "This food has flavor!"

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is head to Boston to the Italian festivals and eat and smoke (him) and second-hand smoke (me) cigars and talk to people and all the other fun things that happen when you're part of the "family." How cool that we'd be able to do that with the Portuguese folks! And the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford, MA had just started! And we were close!

His thought bubble screamed his intentions, which, actually, they usually do. This time: Roam around the Portuguese feast and eat all the foods and smoke a cigar.


No cigar. He left the house with cutter and lighter. And not one cigar.

But food! I got excited about Valentino trying cacoila and malassadas***: the food of my people. He was not impressed with the savory (except for the chourico, everything was pretty bland), but really liked the sweet.****

As we walked around, full but kinda unsatisfied, we happened upon Rolling Stogies. Know what that meant? Cigars! We'd met up with these folks at the Boston festivals over the past few years, and we chatted with them while deciding the perfect stick for the Blessed Sacrament--something sweet and creamy to offset the spiciness in the air (although not in the food).

The Nub Connecticut won, in case you were wondering.

While we were chatting and choosing, this thing happened.  In fact, this thing happens a lot, but I've never been this close to the horror before.

As Valentino chatted, I watched a guy in his 30s look around, obviously unfamiliar with even the basics of the cigar culture. You know how when you're watching a child, you're always unsure whether to step in or let them make their own mistakes and learn from them? That was me.

I stood back, watching this guy as he picked up the cigar, sniffed it through the cello, said, "Hmmm. That's nice." Then he held it out to his lady friend. She sniffed and made appreciative noises as well.


As unsatisfying as sniffing a premium cigar through its cello wrapper, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament left Valentino longing for his Italian festivals in Boston's North End.  See you soon, Fisherman's Feast and St. Anthony! (And yes, that does mean that he wins this round. And no, I'm not telling you what he wins.)

*Different from Battle of the Culinary Schools. I know it's hard to keep up, since food is involved in both. And pretty much everything else we do.

**Except desserts. No offense, but his people do not do sugar and/or dessert well.******

***Which he decided to call "Miley Cyrus" and now, my people weep.

****Because my people know the sweet stuff.

*****Cheese is not a dessert.

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