Friday, August 29, 2014

Pan bagna


Summer evenings are shortening. We might sit down to supper in the light of dusk but by the time 8 o' clock is behind us the Harlem terrace is dark.


I made pan bagna  - it means bathed bread (olive oil is key) - on a recent, warm evening. It's pretty much a salad Niçoise, deconstructed, and we assembled it ourselves. I am lucky to live with someone who likes strong flavours as much as I do. The onion disappeared first, soon followed by the capers and chopped anchovies..


The Frenchman remembers them as beach sandwiches in Antibes, grabbed when you are a hot and sandy and very hungry small person. He was very polite about mine, but how could they compete?

I remember them as made by another Frenchman, Pierre Reveillez, who used to run a small lunch shack in a corner park on East Houston and 1st Avenue. There were also sandwiched baguettes filled with chicken liver pâté and cornichons, or with slices of saucisson. The latter were my favourite, and I ate those baguettes every week, when I worked around the corner. There was excellent coffee. And croissants, of course.

Pierre split his profits with his two workers, and was out of business as soon as the rent was raised. I still miss that place. He was from Provence, too, but Nice - and I sometimes wonder if he and Vincent might not have crossed paths while on small boy and teenage maneuvers beneath pine trees and in clear, salty water.
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