Saturday, October 4, 2014

On the Dante Trail trail: Those Delicious Creamy Boar Squeazins

Following Rod Dreher on the Dante Trail trail we've now arrived at our second Station of the Belly, Taverna San Giuseppe. After a token shout-out to the Madonna as a stand-in for the therapeutic aesthetics of historical locales, Rod professes his true faith, what the Italians in their wisdom refer to as filosofia di suini:

Let me tell you, with no fear of contradiction: after the meal we had today, this place is holy ground.

And, happy day, today we are able to add both another selfie and another picture of what Rod ate to our treasured album of memories.

The first is a real keeper: Rod looking either post-orgasmic as he contemplates his communion

or, now that I think about it, more like Ruprecht after being granted permission to make room for more on site.

The second pic probably was the source generously afforded us as the subtitle of our post.

Incidentally, to reduce clutter from now on we'll only keep score on the selfies and food pics out of the total. To date:

Total pics: 7 - 100%

Selfies: 3 - 25% of total

Things Rod Ate: 2 - 25%  of total

As Rod and Casella depart on the bus like Joe Buck and Ratso headed to Miami, Rod reflects on his Tuscan good fortune

How did this happen? It’s all grace. As Piccardà said, “In His will is our peace.”

True. It could all go away tomorrow, but I would have had this, not deserving any of it, and for that I am grateful. I can hardly tell you how grateful. It’s too much sometimes. Dante teaches that there is no way to work yourself to heaven; all you can do is work to make yourself open to grace when it appears. This is also true, and not only true, but important.

Now as I recall, there was something more to it than grace, or, if it were grace, surely the source of it all was a sad and tragic sort of grace. How Rod arrived at the point pictured above, how this really happened was:

- Rod was in the process of being released from his employment at The John Templeton Foundation

- His agent, who I definitely want negotiating my next new car purchase, managed to snag him a $900,000+ advance for an exploitative, tell-all book about his sister dying of cancer.

- The book hasn't sold all that well, but, hey, there's still a bunch of that grace still in the bank

- Enough to fund an eating vacation to Tuscany, because, given the sales of the sister book, there doesn't seem to have been another advance this time around

Hmmm...I think I've heard of this sort of grace before.

Anyway, what is the real lesson we've learned today at our second Station of the Belly? Right.

That nothing can keep a dark cloud like stinging flies at bay like a heapin' mess o' delicious creamy boar squeazins shared among beloved male companions, far from home under the romantic Tuscan sun.

Grace indeed.


  1. You know...I think it can reasonably be argued that Italy is one of the most magical places on earth. And yes, the cuisine is part of that. But I think most people would say that the main reason for Italy's magic is its extravagant profusion of great art and architecture -- so many monuments of western civilization, all around, everywhere you look. And none of it destroyed during World War II -- talk about Grace! You can't take a step without bumping into a famous statue or fountain or Roman ruin or fifth-century basilica or whatever. And all this guy talks about is the food??? Please tell me he says something about the art, please. I don't want to have to read the dang thing, so please help me out here. Thank you!!

    1. Yes, Diane. One picture was a closeup of the Madonna in a fresco, one a selfie, and one VFYT. Food: 2; Madonna 1.

  2. I suggested he enter a training program to study respiratory therapy as a means of getting out of journalism inasmuch as he's in the position of being a block ice merchant ca. 1955. You can see he's not taking that advice. Maybe Julie Dreher will start back to school. Someone's got to pay the bills.

  3. I'm confused. Has he landed work as a competitor to Anthony Bourdain? If this is a holiday, it's rather rum not to take your wife along.

  4. The last time I mentioned Rod on my blog was 2009, when he wrote that muttonheaded piece for the Dallas Morning News in which he claimed a tasty meal he ate was a sacrament.

    To the extent he ever means anything, he means it when he conflates the holy and the tasty.

  5. AD, your thoughts (and everyone else's, of course) on the following will probably interest all of us.

    The thing that I know I'll find interesting will be the fate of the Dante book when it goes to press at the beginning of 2015.

    I can certainly see a market for psychologically and spritually damaged souls, whether or not popular self-help books ever ultimately do them any good. And I can certainly see a market for the eternal Dante. What I'm not really sure I can see at all is a very large intersection of the first and second.

    For example, there's probably a healthy market for how to clean a vintage carbuerator. And there's probably a healthy market for advanced, in-depth multi-dimensional space-time theory. What I don't quite see is a very large intersection eager to have a narcissist lecture them on how what he gleaned from advanced, in-depth multi-dimensional space-time theory provided the crucial insights he needed to clean his vintage carbuerator as he tells them more and more about himself every several pages.

    Maybe there's a much larger market for psychologically and spiritually damaged or seeking individuals deeply interested in complex Medieval Italian Christian poetry as interpreted by a J-School graduate who's been cramming it for over 12 months now, an even larger one than was interested in the less accessible, tearful saga of a sister dying of cancer.

    Apparently the Dante book is to be a major launch for the unnamed publisher (which I will be surprised if it turns out not to have TAC or Allison among its executive). Of course, if I were to publish 10 copies of one of my nieces' refrigerator drawings that would be a major launch for me, so he could just as easily be talking about me.

    The already-in-the-bag buyers, of course, will be that paying (that counts me out) market who just can't get enough of Rod talking about Rod while furiously wrestling himself naked in a plastic kiddie pool filled with his own gratuitous God-slobber. So he's got Bernie. Who else?

    1. What I am kind of looking forward to with anticipatory schadenfreude, as well as dread, is the response the book gets, if it is gets any notice at all, from honest-to-goodness Dante scholars.

    2. My thoughts? Not a whole lot to say. Many years ago, I picked up at a used book store outside of Utica a volume on (as I recall) renaissance verse (in English or translated, I do not remember). At the time, I was congenially acquainted with an English professor whose beat is Shakespeare and Donne. She listens to a description of it and she says I should start with something less challenging (she knows I'm a lapsed stats nerd). T.S. Eliot? "Yeah, Prufrock".

      That's as a consumer. David Horowitz offered this reason he left graduate school in 1963 (studying English literature): "it seemed as if every furrow had been ploughed". Few people have the chops to say much novel. One employs one's time best in appreciation (of the primary source and the secondary source).

      RD needs to go into a different line of work, one that isn't going to go away in ten years.

      I'm still confused. If he's been so sick, what's he doing taking multiple trips to Europe?

  6. He's taunting you now...the newest post has count them FOUR Rodselfies plus food pics.

    I am an unkind person and every single Rodselfie, with that maniacal smirk and the prop glasses, makes me snicker.

  7. One thing I've noticed about Dreher's Stations of the Belly postings is that he doesn't describe how the food tastes. He tells us what the dishes are (the fancier or more exotic the name, the better), and how good he feels after he ate, but we get from him no sense about what these allegedly great foods taste.

    Even the lamest and most pretentious restaurant reviewers in your local newspaper will give some description of the flavors/textures encountered. One would think an experienced gritty newspaperman and author of Important Books, such as our Cub Reporter, could muster up the chops to do the same.

    Nope. It's almost like the purpose of his posts is to brag about his refined taste in the better things (which, coincidentally, he claims are the things that Really Matter, indeed conveying God's grace to us) -- because we wouldn't understand such things without him as our Virgil. But of course, we know that's not his true intent . . . .

    1. If I'm not mistaken, he's never worked as a reporter per se, but as a reviewer (films, mostly), columnist, and editorial writer at each of seven publications he's worked at. The one exception in 25 years was his misbegotten stint at the Templeton Foundation, when he did editorial work on public relations material. If my memory serves, though, his first job in journalism was as a restaurant reviewer for the paper in Baton Rouge.

      The thing is, it's tough to describe a subjective experience like the flavor of something. What's engaging about Anthony Bourdain is that his program makes the visual aspect of the food plain and your imagination can work with the ingredients you see put in it.

    2. I know I sound like a broken record, but how can the Better Things in Tuscany not include the art and architecture?

      People do not go to Tuscany or even Italy in toto for the food. You can find a great Tuscan restaurant or two in America. You cannot find the Duomo or the frescoes of Fra Angelico at the Museo San Marto in America.

      Am I being too artsy-fartsy? It just staggers me that this guy thinks Italy is all about food. I mean, this is a place where even the sugar packets at the bar in the trattoria have blurry prints of the famous works of the Old Masters on them.

    3. Diane, you don't go to Gypsy Sally's to look at the picture over the bar. You go there to wet your whistle - upstairs. Art & architecture just don't fit that sensually immediate delicious creamy boar sublimatin bill the way food does.

    4. Fair enough, Art -- I agree that it is difficult to describe the flavor of food.

      But then what is the point of these posts? It's not like any of the readers are going to stroll on down to the Taverna San Guiseppe this Thursday, and now they'll know to order the wild boar. These posts instead read like a brag book.

      P.S. Not to mention that it would have helped if he'd tried to describe how the flavor of wild boar differs from, say, tame boar or your run-of-the-mill pork chop from Winn-Dixie. Just reading that it was wild boar (how do they know?) doesn't give me much insight.