October 4, 2015
He was tramping up and down on a twisty road in the mountains of Sicily. Across the wide valley loomed Etna, dark as a savage mystery. He clutched a pink bucket in one hand, a cane in the other. Cigar smoke curled over his head, stinking up the fresh country air.
“What’s in your basket?”
“Boletus edulis,” he says, hauling out a spongy porcini the size of a piglet.
He plans to polish it off for lunch. “In an omelette?” I ask.
“No, no. Tossed with spaghettini!”
“Is it good picking in these woods?” By now Rino and I are on a cozy first-name basis.
“No,” he scoffs, sucking his cigar like a binky. “Over there,” he says nodding at Etna, Pillar of Heaven, “it’s much better.” Though it looks close, it’s at least an hour’s drive to the base from here.
I’d like to ask if he’ll share the fungus with his family at a typical Sicilian Sunday feast, or if he’ll eat all by his lonesome. “Buon pranzo,” I say instead.
“Buon spaghettini!” he cries after me, the cigar still in his teeth.