Bolognese on my mind

5 Apr

I have this friend. Let’s call him Angelo.

Like me, Angelo is a born and bred Brooklyn guy. He is not an entirely lifelong friend. It just feels that way sometimes.

Some time ago Angelo was traveling in Italy with a group of friends, for around three or so weeks as I recall. He checks in with me regularly when on the road, much the way I do with him when I am traveling.

Angelo being a professional travel writer much of our correspondence deals in hardcore travel intelligence, though just as often we obsess over the foods that we are eating.

It is on this topic where my friend and I frequently part ways.

Honestly, I could just smack the guy sometimes.

Take this last trip, for instance. For around five days and nights Angelo and his group were staying in the historic center of Bologna. As you are likely aware, Bologna is the capital of Italy’s most important culinary region, the Emilia-Romagna. It is also the place where, back in the 18th century, the famous Bolognese sauce was conceived. Not surprisingly Ragu alla Bolognese is ubiquitous in Bologna and its environs. I do not believe I have been to a restaurant in the city that did not offer at least a respectable version of it. (If you’d like to try it at home, here is the recipe for an authentic Ragu alla Bolognese.)

So you can imagine my surprise when the following conversation unfolded, a day or so after Angelo and all his friends had arrived back home to New York.

ME: Okay, let’s talk Bologna. How was Leonida? (Trattoria Leonida, that is, my favorite of all in the city; I’d insisted that he try it.)

ANGELO: Everybody loved it. Really charming and the food was great. It was pretty empty, though. COVID I guess.

ME: Last time we were in Bologna we ate there twice; tried for a third time but they were completely booked the whole weekend.

ANGELO: Not a lot of places were booked on this trip, no matter what town we were in.

ME: So where’d you have the best Bolognese sauce? Tough call huh?


ME: So? Where was it?

Words are not often lost to my friend Angelo and so I immediately suspected foul play.

Correctly, as it happens.

ANGELO: Y’know, I didn’t have a Bolognese sauce the whole time. Neither did anybody else, come to think of it.


ANGELO: I did have the most amazing roast beef sandwich in Genoa though. It was down the street from that place where you and I …

ME: Hang on a minute. Did you just say that you didn’t have a single Bolognese sauce the whole time you were in Bologna? That half a dozen other people you were with didn’t have a Bolognese sauce either? In FIVE FREAKING DAYS! Seriously?

ANGELO: Right, nobody, I’m pretty sure. But let me tell you about this roast bee…

ME: I really don’t know how you live with yourself, man. I mean, you got eight people eating like two meals a day each for five days, so that’s what, around 80 total meals — in Bologna ferchrissakes — and nobody, not a single person and not a single time, thought to order the most iconic dish in town, possibly in all of Italy? Not even once. That’s just not possible.

ANGELO: Well, yeah, but like I was saying …

ME: If you mention that roast beef sandwich one more time I’m getting in my car right now and driving down there. And when I get to your house I’m gonna kick your sorry ass straight into the Hudson River. I swear I will.

Our dialogue ended here, I’m afraid, the result of my hanging up the phone on my friend Angelo. It was several days before his calls did not (intentionally) go directly to voicemail.

I mention all this because Bologna has been much on my mind of late. As some of you may know, I have been on the shelf for months and months now, due to a freak accident back in August. Since then my prospects — and most certainly my mood — have been anything but optimistic. It will take several more months at least for truly meaningful improvement in either.

Nonetheless, I’m about to try my luck at getting a bit more active. Days ago my wife Joan and I completed plans, albeit reluctantly, for a three-week visit to Italy later this spring. Our first stop will be Bologna. If you have not yet visited the city, I would highly recommend it.

Only don’t invite Angelo along.

He’ll roast beef sandwich you to death, I just know it.

6 Responses to “Bolognese on my mind”

  1. Denise April 5, 2023 at 4:13 pm #

    I’m sorry to hear that your recovery has been slow, but I hope it keeps progressing for you and that you have a wonderful trip to Bologna. Sending good thoughts!

  2. April 5, 2023 at 4:16 pm #

    Sorry to hear about your situation. I wish you a speedy recovery and a renewed exuberance for La Dolce Vita!I too am going through a rough stretch, and your email was a welcome respite, so thank you.

  3. Gillian Britt April 5, 2023 at 4:35 pm #

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better enough to be making plans for a trip! That’s good news!

  4. John Gardner April 5, 2023 at 6:26 pm #


  5. Claire Modarelli April 5, 2023 at 9:36 pm #

    OMG! That was hilarious- I’d kick his ass too. Centro in Fairfield, CT is very good. On a smaller scale, it annoyed me when my bestie would order chicken at Tony’s – The Place for Ribs.

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