Monday, January 30, 2012

IT'S THOSE LITTLE THINGS

A long time ago, back in the 1970's, when I was still a news reporter at a television station in Phoenix, I conned the news director into sending me to Washington, D.C. for a few days.  I thought it would be a good idea to do interviews with our congressional delegation as a new session of Congress was beginning.

So away we went, my buddy and photographer Steve and I.  'Course we had to do the standard stand-up in front of the capitol.


Now, Steve is a kind of a cut-up, as you can tell from this next picture.


Uh, well, I guess you can't.  But he soon had me posing in this Playgirl Magazine pose.



Oh, c'mon.  You didn't think I was going to take off my clothes, did you.  If I had, I might be a Senator from Arizona by now.

But anyway, none of this really matters except to set the scene for a culinary adventure.  One of the nights we were in town, we hooked up with a couple I had known back in Indianapolis, when I had worked there before decamping for Arizona.  They were working in D.C. by then . . Frank for some kind of public television operation and his wife, Hank, for Rolling Stone magazine . . and lived in Georgetown.  They took us to a favorite restaurant just a few blocks from where they lived.  Wish I could remember the name of it but it's lost to history.  (And to a bleary memory caused by way too many drinks that night.)  As I looked at the menu, I spotted something called Veal Piccata.  I not only had not eaten veal at that time in my life, I had never even heard of this dish.  But I tried it.  It was delicious!  Lemony and buttery and fantastic.

O.K.  Now we move ahead aways.  When we got back to Phoenix I raved to my wife about this meal.  'Course the Internet didn't exist then and I stupidly didn't go to the library to look it up in an Italian cookbook.  But SWMBO, being the true wonderful cook that she was, decided to create the dish.  It wasn't the same.  Oh, the veal was tender and lemony and buttery but it just didn't have the same bite that dish had back in Georgetown.  The attempts to create it went on for a couple of years, as I recall, with no success.

Until.  Until we got a Bon Appetit magazine one day which had a cover feature on a dozen or so great chicken recipes.  One of them was for Chicken Piccata.  It sounded great and it mentioned an ingredient we hadn't ever used.  Can you guess?  Capers.  Yes, capers.  So SWMBO prepared the dish and we held our breath until the first taste and . . . BINGO!  The capers were what made the piccata, well, piccata.  We coupled it with some fettucini alfredo and it became one of our favorites.

We had it last night and after nearly 40 years, it's still as good as ever.

11 comments:

  1. Both chicken and veal picatta have been our favorites for quite a while. My first taste was in Virginia while I was in the Navy.

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  2. I love veal but don't think I have ever had it this way, I am going to keep my eyes opened for it. Hope all is well in Arizona, your governor sure knows how to sell books....lol

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  3. It took forty years for you two to achieve perfection, but you did it. Congrats.

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  4. chicken piccata is my favorite. congratulations for both of you for making it perfect!

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  5. Ah yes, the capers! You've given me an idea for dinner this week.
    Great to see the old stand up with the dome.

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  6. Love the photos and the food sounds great. What was Hank, short for?

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  7. I've never had veal picatta, but it sounds delicious. Now about that pose in front of the Capital: I'm surprised they didn't make you an honorary member of Congress on the spot. You would have fit in nicely. Haha!

    S

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  8. Love the "Playgirl" picture on the lawn - very funny :)

    I've never had Veal OR Chicken Piccata (that I know of) - I'll have to keep an eye out for it on a menu sometime...

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  9. Love the playboy shot! Looks like you had some fun on the job :)

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  10. After you mentioned it at mine the other day I looked it up and made a chicken piccata. It was deliciously tender, and I loved the lemon zest in it, but the way I did it it was just a bit too sharp for us; I think I'd go a bit easier on the lemon juice in the deglazing and maybe let it down with a bit of chicken stock and more white wine instead. The capers were great though, I really like those.

    Thanks for the dinner idea anyway!

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