Saturday, November 03, 2007


I was cutting some dried apricots to put on top of my raisin bran this morning when I started thinking about my friend Johnny who, when we were in Vietnam together, used to cut the ears off the people he killed and arrange them on a necklace.

One night, in a bar in Saigon, when confronted by someone calling his necklace and the machinations that made it possible an act of barbarism, Johnny posed the question: Which is the more barbaric--cutting the ears off already-dead people or sending guys like Johnny and me to a place where necklaces like Johnny's were one in a series of more or less inevitable horrific outcomes?

Then he killed the guy and ate his liver with some fava beans and a robust Barolo.

Johnny was an assassin's assassin. He taught me a lot. For example, if you're deep in the jungle--roughing it, as they say--it probably goes without saying that you're not carrying a wine decanter. And let me tell you, if you don't let those Barolos breath for a while they are a little harsh coming over the tongue. Johnny's tip? Open the thing and pour out one glass. Reserve the glass while putting your thumb over the top of the bottle. Shake vigorously. I mean, shake it like nobody's business. Pour the initial glass back in, swirl to mix, then pour to serve.

Mmm, smooth.


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