Notes from “a Dog” on Writing.

20 09 2016

Dogs know the way to pen a tale. Any writer can learn how. Read on:

A Lesson In Storytelling From The Ultimate Dog Tease

The ‘I’ in Italian is for Irish

17 03 2013

St. Patrick’s Day. I am green for the occasion. Frankly, I could have done a better job myself simply rolling in the freshly mown spring grass.1034471684_03013052f1_t

The meal this evening: Green pasta with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and vodka….vodka?105683306_458e9335c6_t

I suppose it’s a better choice than Irish Whiskey. At least vodka is flavorless. A reflection on the Russian culture? Makes a dog think.4202198032_b137b8ff79_t

The cook tosses a handful or two of baby spinach from the garden into the churning pasta dough, passes it through a hand-cranked cutter and out come stands of verdant linguine, like the long, slender grasses of mid-summer.7379440830_051b9132b8_t

The sauce: Creme fraiche to begin. Fraiche because it’s straight from the cow next-door, thick and rich; ice cream without the sugar.3249757365_9a5e6951a7_t

Vodka we have discussed. Gives the dish a piquant edginess. Another Soviet quality, perhaps?

The two, warmer together over a low flame lend a sweetness to the kitchen that hovers in the air like the aroma of some heady, unnamed blossom. Unwrap a package of tender, gently smoked Irish salmon and the kitchen becomes a perfumery. Heaven.2343601360_f2f4aff6c4_t

Cook folds the salmon pieces into the sauce. Checks for flavor, swiping a privileged finger through the mix, adds a splash more vodka to both the sauce and her glass of fresh-pressed juice. I guess the Russian liquid must have SOME merit.

The green pasta is boiled in salty water in the time it takes me to make it to the corner of the yard to water the basil, and return.

Linguine drained, sauced and served with a generous sprinkling of fresh parmesan and a glass of crisp Italian wine.865303675_d9436aea2b_t

Now THAT’S St.Patricks Day in style.374491_441513399262757_326224331_n


The Seven Day Fog

22 01 2013

“It all started with a wrong turn in the velvet fog of Venice.”

Chapter one, line one, new autodogography.

I am off to the City of Water to do some research. Venice in January: like an iceberg in a snowstorm and tourist-free.



Steamy bars laden with the scent of tobacco and milk chocolate. Trattorie packed with bodies warming to a plate of squid-ink pasta or creamy truffle risotto.


Gondolieri standing in their boats, wrapped up like winter hams, waiting for business. Ice between my toes. Frost on my snout. Pregnant mist pushing its long, fleshy fingers between the towers and canals.2292218586_e546c44060_m

I know only roughly (or ruff-ly, as is the case) my plot. Certain things have to occur: suspense, romance, danger—and magnificent meals. Truffles will take part as it is winter in northern Italy. And a French-African Chihuahua I once met will play in.1159578853_5864672ff8_m



Write what you know is what I say, until you no longer know. Then make it up. It’s fiction. All life is a type of fiction, after all. And the living, nothing more than writers. Comforting to know one can always change the ending. All dogs understand this.

The ending is always owned by it’s writer in more ways than one.8381306661_3b58d2eccf_m

Chew on that.


Fava is for Fav

2 05 2012

To a small dog, spring means more sun, less mud, sprouts in the garden and spring lambs.

Together it’s the perfect formula for a basket of fresh Fave beans,

a chunk of salty Pecorino straight from the mother of a newborn sheep and a plot of dry grass under the shade of a Chestnut tree with a glass of Friulian wine.

Available in most farmer’s markets this time of year, the fava bean is a bitter, crunchy vegetable that, when eaten raw from the shell and paired with a great Pecorino cheese, describes the very flavor of spring.

Or try it in risotto…with Pecorino.

Or in pasta…with Pecorino.

Or sauteed, pureed, served as a bed for bitter Rapini, drizzled with a fine olive oil….and topped with shaved Pecorino.

Or forget the Fave….eat the Pecorino. Drink the wine. Nap.


Ciao, Chow

21 06 2009

OK.  I’ve received a number of corrections since I started this blog concerning the spelling “Chow”.  People seem to think I am misspelling the word.  Hello?

Ciao!! by vinlos86

I am a dog.  I hear the language of humans through canine ears.  I am Italian, yes.  But I am a dog first. Harry Potter Dog at Barnes and Noble Cumberland by lorax_2112 Just as humans are humans first, then Italian, French, American, second.Robot Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Topper Wood Statues with Base 6 by Builders Studio

When I hear “Ciao”, it is similar to the Pavlov response…(now that was an easy experiment, no?  I mean, show a dog a treat and he drools…duh)Drooling dog by Fellowship of the Rich

To me, “Ciao” will always mean “Chow”.  And why not?

Who in this country doesn’t think about food all the time.Spaghetti & Meatballs by Sashertootie

This IS ITALY.Ciao by A Outra Voz


Sunday Dinners

6 04 2009

I was trying to explain to a friend of mine how splendid Sunday dinner was last night and what a wonderful effect it always has on me, from head to toe. 

Pictures are so often worth the thousand words that, as a dog,  I will never speak:


To Market

23 07 2008

Grazia is in the kitchen again.  Today it’s hot and muggy and the flame on the stove is gone.  Today dinner will be cold.


She and I go to the morning market before the heat begins to rise.  Piazza di Campo de' FioriCampo di Fiori is crowded with tourists and Romans, alike.  The vegetable stands overflow with summer produce.Campo di Fiori


Verdant basil, tiny ruby tomatoes, Cherry tomatoes. So lovely. Maybe this will get your kids to eat salad?sweet onions, baby green beans: the meal will be simple and sumptuous, the aim of most Italian cuisine. A loaf of fine country bread Italian Bread 12/27/06and a large jar of olive oil soaked Mediterranean tuna.


Did I mention I love tomatoes?  I pull the sweet cherry variety off the bushy plants that sit in clay pots around our terrazzo…just the low fruit.  I’m allowed that without being chided.  But the tomatoes on the terrazzo are still green so, today, we buy Campo di Fiori fare. 


Here is what Grazia does with her market bounty:


Toss together the tomatoes, a handful of torn basil, thinly sliced onions and blanched, chilled green beans.  Add the drained tuna.  Toss again. 


While Grazia brushes slices of fresh bread with olive oil, grills them on one side, then rubs them with a clove of garlic, I search the floor below the tossing for bits of anything that might have escaped the bowl….


The salad is chilled until dinner time.  The toasts are put to one side in each bowl.


Balsamic vinegarModena > Sealed Bottles of Balsamic Vinegar and freshly grated parmesan is added over each serving at the last minute.  And the empty bowls are mine….









Sauce of the Day

8 03 2008

I have management, of course.  a staff dance, 5th December 1922There is the Count and there is Contessa.  I am walked regularly and entertained with an orange ball (in summer it is a real chilled orange!).  I have standing appointment with a very attractive bleach-blonde named Chiara, who suds me up and down, rubs me briskly, rinses me thoroughly, then fluffs me with a 600-watt dryer.Jack

But none of these is as satisfying as my cook.  And life on Fridays is very fine.

Grazia comes five days a week (Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons we dine out.)

Friday is Bolognese night.  I sit under the kitchen table and watch her conjure the secret sauce. 

low heat

In one pan, Grazia sautes ground beef until it is well-cooked and brown.  This smells like what must be heaven. 

Then she chops one large carrot and 2 stalks of celery and 1/2 an onion and 5 cloves of peeled garlic, fine.  She sautes this in a separate pan in 1/3 cup olive oil until it is all translucent.  Even the vegetables smell like ambrosia…must be the garlic. 

Grazia adds this to the meat, then stirs in 1/3 bottle of Chianti, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (yes, I know it’s French.  That’s the secret: Grazia’s grandmother was from the wrong side of the border…), and 3 cups of the simple tomato sauce she canned last summer.  

stir every ten minutes 

It stays on a low flame atop the stove until she adds 1 cup of fresh chopped basil and it’s ready.

All mixed up...

From here you can use your imagination in pairing the pasta: penne is good, but I find it often sticks in the throat of small dogs.  A good egg fettucine is my pick, but that’s just me.  And grilled polenta is always a good underpinning to any sauce, as well.


Life on Fridays is fine, indeed.

Pasta Bolognese


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