The why of a half-full bottle of wine is never an interesting story. It may involve an early night, a guest who never arrived or a poor choice at the liquor store. That’s why you’re not going to hear the story of how I was left with half a teeny-tiny bottle of wine. Instead, you’ll hear the story of a lunch that finished with cookies. Because anything that finishes with cookies makes for a good story.
It was midday on a lazy, I-should-be-doing-more-work-than-this, Sunday. After some procrastination and a dinner invitation, I had the brain-wave to waste time by using the remains of the wine for cookies, biscotti di vino, to be precise. I had a soup — pappa al pomodoro — to cook on the stove as I made the cookies.
I threw a glugg of olive oil into a pan, cut some garlic and ripped up a few leaves of basil. Within moments, the damp-smelling room became welcoming. After a bit more preparation — tearing up bread, opening a can of tomatoes — I turned my attention to cookies.
They were simple, the kind of cookie that makes even me — anally aware of authenticity — pretend they are in an idyllic cottage in the Italian countryside, ready to enjoy their good, clean and fair lunch. It was simple: measure flour, a little bit of sugar and a large pinch of salt all stirred. Make a well — the quaintest baking technique — and pour in your olive oil and leftover wine. The wine’s dull story transforms with the few turns of a wooden spoon, coming out as a slightly sticky, but pleasantly smooth dough. Instead of shaping i biscotti like the recipe suggested, I made them into petite taralli. I resisted the urge to throw in black pepper and a hefty dose of toasted almonds.
The soup bubbling on the stove was done. I turned it off, put some in a bowl for later and some in piatto fondo to enjoy immediately. Sunday lunch is awkward. Either too little time has passed since a too-late breakfast to feel justified hunger, or the processing of properly cooking a midday meal shocks your routine, making you vaguely confused. What’s this? How did I get here?
I debated these questions — though they invariably went further, considering how I ended up at fourth year in a perpetually damp house — as I ate my soup. More than the pleasant tomato-taste, I enjoyed the texture. The just-stale bread was squishy with a satisfying bite. It was just indulgent enough to make Sunday lunch feel like an event rather than an accident.
And then it was over. Time to wash up. The cookies had five minutes left in the over. I trudged to the sink, breathing in the sweet smell of flour, sugar and wine. I distracted myself from the mundane task with the sunlight streaming in through the window. There may have been a few gold-medal olympic performances in there as well.
Then I sorted the kitchen out, as if the whole event had never happened. I was left with a simple bowl of leftover soup and cookies with half a teeny-tiny bottle of wine in them. All is well that ends with cookies.
Sunday lunch: what does it look like for you?