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The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Grazie mille!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mrs. Obama Says "Healthier Habits" a "New Norm" -- But Are They?

Along with many others, I applaud the news that childhood obesity appears to have dropped an impressive forty-three percent in the last decade among those aged two to five years. It's definitely a step in the right direction. But at the same time, I have to ponder how and why we took so many steps in the wrong direction in the first place.

Recent encouraging reports from the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC have drawn praise from First Lady Michelle Obama: "I am thrilled at the progress we've made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans. With the participation of kids, parents, and communities in 'Let's Move!' these last four years, healthier habits are beginning to become the new norm."

Whether or not “Let's Move!” is to be credited is open to debate, but the program certainly focuses attention on the issue. And with no disrespect intended toward the First Lady, I would like to suggest that her “new norm” is really a return to an “old norm.”

While it is noted by researchers that the exact cause for the decline in obesity rates is “unknown,” many of them cite an increase in healthier meal plans at child care centers, an increase in physical activity among the subjects of the study, and a decrease in the consumption of soda among young children. All well and good. But my point remains: this is not “new” behavior but merely a reawakening of “old” behavior. I can say this with a degree of authority because I am old. Or at least old enough to remember when the concepts of healthy eating, physical activity, and limited ingestion of soda among our children were not considered “new.”

When and why did we allow junk food and junk beverages into our schools? When and why did we stop encouraging – nay, demanding – that kids run and jump and play at what we used to call “recess?” Who came up with the notion that children needed “choices” in these matters? I can't precisely answer all of these questions, but I have a pretty good general idea. I believe the answers lie on the doorstep of my generation, the Baby Boomers.

Remember us? With our music and our morals and our fashions and our political beliefs, we tore down the barriers of “the establishment” back in the '60s. Unfortunately, tearing down was the only thing at which we were any good. We sucked at building anything back up. Whereas our parents and our grandparents and our great-grandparents down through the ages had all built successively on their accomplishments and failures, we did not. Our crowning glory was the destruction of what our forebears had constructed. We were the first generation to live “in the moment.” To quote the The Grass Roots, “Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today, and don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey, hey, hey.” With our “love-ins” and our “sit-ins” and our “be-ins,” we were content to let the future take care of itself. And so it has, leaving many of us feebly scratching our graying heads and asking, “What the hell happened?”

Ask anybody born in the last forty or fifty years about the presence of vending machines in their schools. They'll tell you they've always been there. Nobody who has attended a public school since the '70s can remember not being able to drop money in a machine out in the hall to receive a can or bottle of Coke. Or a bag of chips. Or a candy bar. To these people, it's always been that way. It's “the norm.” Or how about those school lunches? Ask any member of “Generation X” or “Y” or whatever letter we're up to now about the choices they have always been offered at the lunch table. “The norm” has always been a junk food free-for-all. Oh yeah, there were fruits and veggies available for the nerds who wanted them, but with hamburgers and hot dogs and fries and pizza and chicken nuggets all there for the taking, who wanted that other stuff? I am well acquainted with a Gen X-er who assured me that her daily lunch in high school consisted of a styrofoam cup of French fries and a slice of pizza. She was a little weird in that she drank milk with her lunch, but soda was offered in the cafeteria. We Boomers made sure that our kids had food choices that appealed to them. We didn't care if such choices were what they needed as long as they were what they wanted. And if they didn't want to take part in physical education classes or organized sports activities or if they didn't even want to go outside at recess, well then our little darlings didn't have to. That's what we fought for in the '60s, after all, and nobody was going to tell our kids that they had to do anything they didn't want to do or prevent them from having anything they wanted to have. “Power to the people!”

This may come as a shock to some of you under age fifty or so, but there were no soda machines in schools when I was a kid. None. Period. Milk was the only beverage served at lunch and the only choices you had were chocolate or white. Or you could have water. That was “the norm.” The only potato chips or corn chips to which you had access were the ones you brought from home in your lunchbox. There were no candy bars offered other than the ones we occasionally sold for school fundraisers, and if we bought any of those we weren't allowed to eat them on school property. Again, if your mom put candy in your lunch bag, that was fine. But you had to eat it at lunch because if you got caught with it in a classroom, you were in big trouble. And the lunch menu in the school cafeteria was pretty restricted, fairly boring, and somewhat unappetizing at times, which is why I either went home for lunch or brought lunch from home. But, by and large, it was a healthy menu of meats and vegetables and fruits and dairy products. Sweets were an occasional treat, as were “junk” foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza. There was a “day” for those items, usually Friday. They were not otherwise offered as options or as a part of the regular daily menu.

When I got to high school, things were a little different. There were still no openly available soda vending machines, but if you were enough of a brown-noser you could sneak into the teacher's lounge and snag a Coke out of the machine in there. And you had to drink it in there, too. Taking it out into the hall got you a quick trip to the principal's office. As far as candy and chips and snacks were concerned, we had a canteen that opened for a couple of hours in the afternoon. The canteen was only for upper classmen and going there was a privilege, not a right. If your behavior was good and you kept up your classwork and your homework, you could get a pass to the canteen, where you could buy candy and chips and such. And only after lunch period. Lunch was lunch. Pretty much the same cafeteria offerings as in the lower grades, except the portions were bigger and the special days a little more frequent. Upper classmen could leave campus at lunch, so the local fast food emporia did brisk business. Otherwise, your dining “choices” were the cafeteria's “mystery meat” or the brown bag in your locker.

The 1960s were the depths of America's culinary dark ages. Pseudo-science and aggressive marketing had led us to believe that speed and convenience were everything and that fresh whole food was representative of the kitchen drudgery from which the “modern” cook had been freed. As a result, school food was strictly institutional. It was all frozen, canned, or powdered. The only thing fresh was fruit in the form of oranges, apples, and bananas. The cafeteria was like an army mess hall and the lunch ladies were like mess sergeants. It wasn't their responsibility to cater to your personal tastes. They were there to provide food that met your nutritional requirements. Within the confines of what was available to them, it was healthy and if you didn't want the green beans, you didn't have to eat them. But you couldn't pick from an a la carte menu; your choices were take it or leave it.

Of course, this was part of the “establishment” against which those of us born between 1945 and 1965 rebelled. Our children weren't going to be told what they could and couldn't eat like we were. Children were, after all, nothing but adults waiting to happen and as such, they had rights and choices when it came to their health and well being. If they wanted pizza and French fries for lunch five days a week, then, by god, that's what they were going to have because they were the offspring of the generation that liberated America from outdated rules and standards. If they liked soda better than milk, then let them have soda. They needed the energy and alertness provided by the sugar and caffeine in order to cope with the stresses of everyday life just like we adults did. I'm surprised we didn't install espresso machines for them in kindergarten.

And speaking of everyday stresses, we Boomers were upwardly mobile and career driven. We “cooked” suppers from boxes and cans and we certainly didn't have time to prepare healthy lunches for our kids. Or breakfasts, either, for that matter. No, it was a lot less stressful on us to just give them a few bucks and let them buy whatever they wanted at school. And Coca-Cola, Frito Lay, Hershey and all the rest of the junk food purveyors were more than happy to help provide what the kids wanted, often through sweetheart deals made with cash-strapped school systems. Enter the vending machines.

We hated being forced to run around the gym or the practice field. Unless you were a jock, PE or “gym class” was all so sweaty and unnecessary. If our kids wanted to be jocks, fine. Otherwise, they could get hurt or get their expensive shoes and clothes messed up running around like that, and that just wasn't going to happen. If they didn't want to go outside and play, then they didn't have to and the school wasn't going to make them. Those days were over for our Boomer kids. Just ask our lawyers. And besides, there were bullies out there and there were weirdos out there and there were germs and pollen and things out there that could make our little babies sick, so they were much safer and much better off sitting on their little butts inside somewhere drinking soda and eating junk food.

After centuries of established healthy behavior in which kids ate properly and exercised regularly as a part of their normal daily life, it took just one generation to produce overindulged, out of shape, unhealthy, fat kids. And so I say again to Mrs. Obama, we are not beginning a “new norm” as much as we are returning to an old one. The First Lady herself barely qualifies as a Boomer. She was born in 1964 and Generation X is generally regarded to have started in 1966. She is a cusp baby, closer to being a Gen X-er than she is a Boomer. Her husband is only a few years older. I was already in grade school when the President was born. Neither of them remember the “old days” I'm talking about. Both are generational products of a normality that was anything but normal. By the time the Obamas hit high school, Coke machines in the corridors were “normal.” So I can see where the First Lady gets her “new norm” idea, but it's really more a case of “all things old are new again.”

So kids are eating healthy food prepared by responsible people who know the difference between clean, whole foods and packaged, processed dreck. Good for them. Sometimes kicking and screaming, they are being pried away from their televisions and video games and rediscovering physical activity. Great. And, despite the weeping and wailing from the marketers of Big Soda, they are being weaned off an unhealthy product that their idiot parents and grandparents regarded as absolutely essential to life. Excellent. Maybe there is hope for future generations. Perhaps the damage my generation did can be undone. Maybe the days of hundred-twenty pound diabetic ten-year-old kids are slipping behind us. Maybe.

Welcome back to the “old norm” of healthy eating and physical activity and to the “good old days” of having a soda as a treat once or twice a week. And speaking on behalf of the Baby Boom generation that lacked the mental capacity to realize we were killing our kids and our grandkids, we're sorry.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's Official: Supreme Court Says Deep-Dish “Shouldn't Be Called Pizza”

Yes! Finally, official vindication of my long-held belief. The Supreme Court has ruled that Chicago-style “Deep-Dish Pizza” is not really pizza at all. Well.....sort of.

In a undeniably brave move, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking in Chicago, declared that, although tasty, the home-grown casserole-like concoction that the locals like to call “pizza” is not a pizza.

Justice Scalia was born in New Jersey to a Sicilian immigrant father and a mother who was herself a child of Italian immigrants. So the guy knows something about pizza, okay? I mean, if Sotomayor or Kennedy or Ginsburg spoke out on pizza, I'd maybe question their credentials. But not Scalia. The man obviously knows pizza. Justice Alito hasn't ruled yet, but I'm sure he'd be in agreement with Scalia.

The learned justice knows that when God orders pizza, it's gonna be vera pizza napoletana; the real thing. Pizza with a thin crust that's just the perfect balance between crispy and chewy, topped with rich tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and maybe some fresh basil. That may not be in the Bible anywhere, but when the Almighty came up with the idea for pizza, where did he have it made? Naples. So, close enough.

Chicagoans don't make their alleged “pizza” on a flat pan; they use a large, deep pan with sides about three inches tall. You know what the proper name for a large, deep, tall-sided baking dish is? Casserole! Look it up. And the word “casserole” applies to both the cooking vessel and the dish that's cooked in it. So when you fill up a casserole dish with ingredients and bake it for thirty to forty-five minutes, what have you got? A casserole! Not a pizza. A pizza is “topped.” A casserole is filled. Doesn't matter that it's filled with traditional pizza ingredients. It's still not a pizza. If a cat has kittens in the oven, you don't call them “biscuits.” And a real pizza can be made in less than ten minutes. You shouldn't have to wait for three-quarters of an hour.

The full text of Scalia's ruling, as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, reads, "I do indeed like so-called 'deep dish pizza.' It's very tasty. But it should not be called 'pizza.' It should be called 'a tomato pie.' Real pizza is Neapolitan. It is thin. It is chewy and crispy, OK?"

And he's absolutely right. When you make an apple or cherry pie, you lay a crust in a deep baking dish and fill it with apples or cherries. When you lay a crust in a deep baking dish and fill it with tomatoes, you get a tomato pie. Not a pizza.

A dissenting opinion was offered by Chris Bentley, writing in Chicagoist: “We dissent. Sure, pizza took its modern form in 19th century Naples: thin crust, mozzarella and tomatoes. But the Neopolitans’ original intent when they drafted their recipe was to please the masses, in order to create a more perfect union of tomatoes, cheese and baked dough. They could not have envisioned modern technology, New World inventiveness or the American appetite for excess. We must respect this new context.”

First off, Chris, check your spelling of “Neapolitan.” And your opinion doesn't hold water. Pandering to “the American appetite for excess” has ruined a lot of traditional cuisines. “New World inventiveness,” also known as American ethnocentric hubris, does not trump “Old World” tradition. In small, easy to understand words, “don't screw around with my pizza.”

By the way, lest I be labeled a “New York snob,” I was born in the Midwest and grew up near Chicago. But even as a kid, I turned up my nose at the messy, doughy dreck Uno's, Lou Malnati's and other so-called pizzerias tried to shove down my throat under the guise of “Chicago-style” pizza. Even Pizza Hut pizza was better, and that ain't saying much. At least it was a form of pizza, not a tomato casserole with cheese. And believe me when I say there's a lot of New York/New Jersey pretenders out there, too. Not all pizza made in New York and environs qualifies as “authentic.” But even the worst greasy, sloppy slice that you have to fold up to keep intact is better than what Jon Stewart once called “tomato soup in a bread bowl.”

The Senior Associate Justice of the highest court in the land has spoken. There's no appeal. I hope to see the word “pizza” stricken from any and all versions of tomato casserole and tomato pie very soon. Don't cry, Windy Citizens. You've still got your own hot dogs.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: BLL Rotisserie Factory, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

What's in A Name?
 
All the great Italian restaurants have great Italian names; Babbo, Del Posto, Vetri, Spiaggia, Scampo, Brico. That's why a little place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina flew totally under my radar. I have friends there and over years of multiple visits I thought I had eaten at and/or reviewed most of the Italian restaurants in the city. Somehow when searching for Italian restaurants, a place called BLL Rotisserie Factory just didn't register. My friend has lived in Winston-Salem for more than twenty-five years and, as it turns out, the place is located two doors down from where he gets his hair cut. And he still had never heard of it.

It would not have come to my notice were it not for an item Google News flagged on my computer. Visiting Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim declared that he had enjoyed “the best meal I ever had on the road” at an Italian place in Winston-Salem. He compared the meal to “a New York City Italian dinner.” He didn't name the place, but left enough clues that I was able to track it down. Expecting maybe Fratelli's Italian Steakhouse or Vincenzo's or Carmine's, imagine my surprise when it turned out to be BLL Rotisserie Factory.

Okay. When you get to the out-of-the-way strip mall on Knollwood Street in the shadow of the Bank of America building and Krispy Kreme's corporate headquarters, you'll clearly see “Ristorante Italiano and Pizzeria” writ large above the door. When you enter, you'll likely hear strains of “Vesta di Giubba” or “Funiculi Funicula” filling the air. You'll see Italian artwork on the walls, and you will, of course, breathe in the unmistakable aroma of Italian food. Yep, this is the place. But why the outward name that speaks nothing of the inward identity?

According to proprietor Simone Vicidomini, the letters “BLL” were the initials of a cousin with whom he co-founded the restaurant. As far as the “Rotisserie Factory” part, it seems the place specializes in rotisserie chicken. Their menu states that the chicken is prepared “following the perfection of the Italian tradition.” But an Italian rotisserie chicken joint is still a new one on me. Okay, there's a place called “Ristorante La Spada” on the Via della Spada in Firenze that features rotisserie chicken, so let's just say that such a place is rare.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon just before the start of what turned out to be a very busy dinner service. There were only two other tables seated when we got there, but that changed quickly as the service progressed. We were guided to a table by a pleasant hostess and served by a very friendly and efficient waiter named Willie. Willie has been on staff at BLL for sixteen of its twenty-one years. And after all that time, he couldn't properly pronounce “bruschetta,” which, if you've ever read anything else I've written, is a major no-no for me. I've walked out of places over “broo-SHET-uh” and “mare-uh-NARE-uh.” I don't say you've got to be able to converse in flawless Italian, but I firmly believe that anyone who works in an Italian eatery should at least be familiar with pronouncing basic Italian food. But it was Italian food and not Italian conversation that I was seeking, so I pressed on and ordered.

I'm very glad I did. I like to judge new places by their simplest pizza or pasta. If they can't get the simple stuff right, what chance do they have with more complicated dishes? So I ordered a cheese pizza, the closest thing to vera pizza napoletana that most American places can manage. It was perfetto. A flavorful thin crust with just the right amount of crispness and chewiness, covered by a house-made tomato sauce that was the tiniest bit sweet for my taste, but nonetheless delightful. This was topped by the perfect amount of mozzarella, all baked to golden perfection.

My wife and our dinner companion opted for the rotisserie chicken. Rather than more traditional Italian fare like cannelloni, ravioli or one of the other pasta offerings, they wanted to sample the specialty of the house. Each got a half-chicken with two vegetables. Both got mashed potatoes – not exactly an Italian staple, but appropriate to the dish. My wife went with asparagus and our friend chose broccoli. Both proclaimed the chicken to be moist, tender, and flavorful. My wife was particularly impressed but was unable to finish the rather large portion, so a great deal of her chicken came home to be utilized in other applications. (It was turned into fabulous chicken pot pie.) And she was very pleased with the cook on the asparagus, a vegetable that can go from perfectly al dente to completely ruined quite quickly.

We completed a delightful meal with an equally delightful limoncello and mascarpone cake that was sweet, light, airy, and packed with lemon flavor.

BLL Rotisserie Factory boasts a brick oven rotisserie and they apparently go through a lot of chicken. Besides the dishes we were served, BLL has a chicken pizza, a chicken stromboli, a chicken marsala, a chicken Caesar salad, chicken parmigiana, a couple of chicken subs, and tons more chicken offerings. Pollo dappertutto. But they also put out some darn fine classic Italian fare. There's a nice variety of traditional house-made sauces available with a choice of pastas. We saw another diner with a lobster and shrimp ravioli in vodka sauce in which the shrimp were as big as prawns. My wife's next meal, for sure. And the cannelloni looked pretty good to me.

The beverage selection is nice and includes some serviceable wines and domestic and Italian beers, as well as San Pellegrino water and the usual tea and soft drinks.

The prices aren't bad. Some of the seafood specialties clock in at $17.50, but they are the most expensive items on the menu. Antipasti are all in the $5 to $8.25 range and most of the entrees are $10 to $12. Pizza is downright cheap, with a 16” pie going for $11.75.

The restaurant is family owned and family friendly. Owner Simone and his daughter are on hand to mingle with diners and to keep everybody happy and satisfied. Although I had to criticize Willie's Italian, I could not overrate his skills as a server. He was personable, knowledgeable, efficient and attentive without being intrusive. A rare find. No wonder he's been there so long.

BLL Rotisserie Factory is located at 380 Knollwood Street, Suite A, just a stone's throw from the Thruway Shopping Center. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 9:30 pm, parking is adequate, reservations are not required, dress is casual, and families and groups are welcome. Call them at (336) 725-7071 or find them on the web at www.rotisseriefactory.com. They're also on Facebook.

So, a nice Italian restaurant run by a nice Italian family with not a trace of Italian in the name – who'd have thought? Not me. But now that I know better, I'll be making BLL Rotisserie a regular stop.

Bruschetta, Marinara, and Mascarpone – The Three Most Egregiously Mispronounced Italian Food Words

Something Wrong Remains Wrong, Regardless Of “Actual Usage”

It's been awhile since I wrote anything about how badly people mispronounce Italian food words. I think it's been at least a week. Anyway, I have cause to once again take up the gauntlet. I was watching one of those cooking competition shows on TV and the contestants were mercilessly massacring one of the most often mispronounced words and it just tripped my trigger. Although I could find dozens of candidates, I consider these to be the top three most egregiously mispronounced Italian food words.

Bruschetta. It is not “broo-SHET-uh.” “Broo-SKET-ah” is an acceptable pronunciation. “Broo-SHET-uh” is simply wrong. I don't care how common it's become, it's wrong. And if your server corrects you after you have pronounced it correctly, complain to the manager on your way out the door. If you want to be excruciatingly correct, the word should be pronounced “broo-SKAYT-tah” or “broo-SKEHT-tah.” The “ch” in Italian is always a hard “k” sound. Think “chianti.” You wouldn't say “shee-AHN-tee” would you? The “e” in Italian is generally sounded as “ay,” although it can also sound like “eh.” And unlike English, each letter in a double consonant has a separate sound; they don't both run together. The first letter is the ending sound of one syllable and the second letter is the beginning sound of the next one.

I found this clueless comment online from a woman who called herself “Eva:”“Well, if we're going to get into it, what makes it so wrong to say bru-shet-a? Yes, it's an Italian word, but it's become adopted as an English word as well now. If the bulk of English-speaking folks say bru-shet-a, then colloquially it becomes correct. Languages are always evolving based on actual usage, so if everyone knows it as bru-shet-a, then bru-shet-a it shall become.”

Let me get this straight; if I get enough people to say that 2 + 2 = 5, does that make it correct through “actual usage?” How about if I go down to the Mexican place and order some “fuh-JEE-tahs” or some “kwes-uh-DILL-ahs? How long do you think it will be before that catches on and “evolves?” The “languages are always evolving” line is nothing more than a convenient excuse for the intellectually lazy. Something that is wrong remains wrong, regardless of “actual usage.” Ever hear “two wrongs don't make a right?” And, by the way, a colloquialism is simply a word that is used in an informal or relaxed manner. It does not supersede or replace proper language.

Marinara. Fingernails on a blackboard. I physically cringe over this one. English is the only language that has “long” and “short” phonemes for the vowel “a.” In Italian, and most other languages, “a” has only one sound – “ah.” And “i” is always sounded as “ee.” So again, regardless of “actual usage” among the linguistically impaired, this word is pronounced “mah-ree-NAH-rah.” It is not and never will be “mare-uh-NARE-uh.” Period.

Mascarpone. This is the word those TV cooks were mangling. Look at it. Does the “r” come before the “s”? No. So how come everybody says “MARS-kuh-pohn.” It's “mah-skar-POH-nay.” “MASS-kar-pohn” doesn't work either. Remember, no short vowels. “Ah” not “ă.” There are also no silent vowels. Italians pronounce 'em all, especially those at the ends of words. And, as noted, “e” sounds like “ay.”

In fact, let me give you a little tip; anything that ends in the letters “o-n-e” is going to be pronounced “OH-nay.” Calzone, provolone, lampone, limone, panettone – you pronounce the last syllable “OH-nay” in each and every instance. The final “e” is never lopped off and the word never ends sounding like “own.”

I get cranked to the highest level of frustration when I hear culinary service people mispronouncing these words. I don't expect or demand that cooks and servers in Italian-American restaurants be fluent enough in Italian to be able to hold lengthy conversations, but they should at least be able to pronounce what they are cooking and/or serving. And it frustrates me even more when I realize that Italian is the only language being so casually abused. The all-American teenage counter help at even the lowliest chain taco stand can roll “r”s like a native Spanish-speaker and correctly pronounce the most exotic Mexican dishes on the menu. But I was eating at an Italian place the other day and was served by a waiter who had been on staff there for sixteen years who still mispronounced “bruschetta.” Go to any French restaurant and you'll hear perfect intonations of “foie gras” and “croissant.” Nobody says “FOH-ee-grass” or “CROW-sant,” now do they? Visit an Asian restaurant and the non-Asian servers will rattle off dishes in perfect approximations of Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Thai or whatever cuisine is being represented, but put those same servers in an Italian place and they'll assault your ears with ugly, flat-accented words like “mare-uh-NARE-uh.” Why do other languages merit proper pronunciation while Italian gets to “evolve?”

Italian is one of the most flowing, beautiful, poetic, lyrical languages in the world. It is the language of Dante, the universal language of music, the language of love and the language of food. As such, it certainly deserves better treatment in “Italian” restaurants and on TV cooking shows.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pizza Perfume?


I Love the Smell of Pizza in the Morning – And Now I Can Have It


One of the best things about going to get bacon at Allan Benton's place in Madisonville, Tennessee is that after spending five minutes inside Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, everything I'm wearing smells like hickory-smoked bacon. The scent follows me into my car and, with a few pounds of porky ambrosia sitting in a paper bag in the back seat, I can enjoy the heady aroma for hours and hours. The wonderful scent permeates the fabric of the car seats and I can still detect it the next day. I've always wished I could have the same experience with pizza, and now, thanks to modern chemistry, I can. The folks at Demeter Fragrance Library have come up with pizza perfume.

The company's website (http://www.demeterfragrance.com/773364/products/Pizza.html) describes the new creation, which they admit is a “departure” even for them, as “tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella, a touch of oregano – perfectly balanced for the adventurous.” You can buy it in various sizes of spray bottles. It also comes in a body lotion, a shower gel, a massage and body oil, and as a roll on perfume. I'll take one of each, please.

The jury's still out on whether or not this is a product that mankind really needs. Some testers call it “intoxicating” and some describe it as “off-putting.” Others say it smells exactly like the inside of a pizza box and that it makes you constantly think about pizza – not that I need any help in that department. The only time I'm not thinking about pizza is when I'm thinking about bacon.

As of this writing, the new fragrance is only available through Demeter's website and it's reasonably priced, with a half-ounce mini splash going for just $6 and a one-ounce spray selling for $10. If you really like it, you can buy four ounces for $39.50. But rumor has it that the product will soon be stocked at a Walgreens near you so you can have instant gratification without all that shipping and handling.

Demeter also features the scents of dandelions, grass, lilacs, clean skin, wet garden, and dirt, among many others. Oddly enough, one of the scents missing from their menu is bacon. Guess I'll have to rely on Benton's for that one. Hmmmm......I wonder if Allan could put it in a bottle.