Spezzatino con Piselli (Stewed Beef and Peas)
Peas in Love
Whenever something goes wrong, I naturally expect the worst. And eternally sunny person that I am, I also assume that I have somehow played an intrinsically sinister role in this impending destruction. For example, when a fire truck screams down the street, no mater the town or time of day, I become steadfastly convinced that I have left a burner on, a flat-iron plugged in or even worse the dreaded votive candle unattended.
Somewhere in town, a fire squad is saving an apartment from certain doom and it is only a matter of time before the forensic evidence is in. At which point, the local authorities will conclude that a certain Kristin Michelle Melia left a cinnamon scented Yankee Candle burning.
It doesn’t matter that I don’t burn candles anymore or that I can no longer use my American hair straightner because I do not have the correct electrical convertor. My mind goes directly down the rabbit hole to the point of no return because I have, however unwittingly, caused a woman-made disaster.
Last week, I launched down this catastrophic path of my own making, when I noticed a pernicious seeming notice from the Italian postal service popping out of my mail slot. Upon further inspection, I learned that not only was this notice nearly 28 days old, but that I had a parcel requiring my signature at the local post.
I had no less than 48 hours to retrieve this parcel. Most disturbingly, it was of unknown American provenance. It was neither my birthday nor an important greeting card holiday. Nor would any friends or family members claim to have sent me a missive.
It was also too late for me to venture to the local post office. I was in for a long night of incessant panicking. Maybe it was a jury duty summons—the Washington D.C. court system had finally hunted me down and my likely fate was an untimely jail sentence. Or maybe I was being subpoenaed. Or perhaps it was a notice from the I.R.S that I owed 1 million dollars in back taxes and that they were going to throw me in the slammer if I did not pay up and pay up soon.
Or even worse, it was my doctor’s office in Washington D.C. They had undertaken a medical audit and had discovered an old blood panel that confirmed I had Rubella. Would I be dead already if I had been living with Rubella, I wondered. Then, what exactly is Rubella?
With 19 hours to kill (and possibly only 19 hours to live) until the post office opened, I quickly became a paragon of anxious efficiency. Too many were the possibilities of disaster. Not even my trusted oracle, Google could assist me in divining the possible contents of that package. I tried every possible search engine term combination I could think of, to include but not limited to:
Post Office Notices in Italy
Jury Duty Summons for American Expatriates
I.R.S. Offices in Europe
Rubella Treatment and Life Expectancy
Will I go to Hell if I forgot to pay a traffic ticket?
Homeopathic Anxiety Treatments
What happens when you take old Gabapentin and drink Coke Zero?
Shiba Inu puppy videos
If only I had a Klonopin, I thought. Fucking Klonopin. Fucking parcel. I contemplated crushing up my pirin tablets and snorting them, just so I could some how trick myself into experiencing a placebo effect. And that’s the thing with placebo effects; you really can induce them if you put your mind to it.
Then I remembered I had about 4 kilos of fresh peas to shuck. I also remembered something somebody like Dr. Weil or Lao Tzu or Dr. Phil or Dr. Seuss once said about keeping your hands busy with something productive when anxiety strikes. And while I was unsure of the provenance of this sage advice, I am pretty sure that the intended activity was not freebasing aspirin and furiously typing outlandish word combinations into 21st century search engines.
Fucking envelope. Fucking post office. Fucking peas. I shucked and contemplated. It almost felt as if I were reciting a novena, peas in place of the rosary.
The following day I was at the post office bright and early to retrieve the parcel that would certainly contain the disastrous news that my life as I knew it was now over. It was a pair of black leggings I had ordered from Amazon. There is a strong possibility I have self diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder. For now, I am staying away from the Google. I have since purchased 15 more kilos of peas to shuck.
Spezzatino con Piselli (Fresh Peas and Beef Stew)
Serves 6 as secondo
1lb beef stew meet, cubed
Cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups vegetable broth
½ lb fresh peas, shucked
Rub salt and pepper into beef
Place flour in bowl
Dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess
Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat
Add beef and brown on all sides, for a total of about 10 minutes
Remove beef and reserve on plate or shallow bowl
Add onion, carrot and celery to olive oil
Sauté, stirring occasionally until just golden for about 7 minutes
Deglaze Dutch oven with whit wine, scraping with wooden spoon or spatula to release golden bits stuck to the bottom
Add beef and collected juices back to Dutch oven, tossing to coat in soffritto
Add vegetable broth and peas
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
Simmer for 3 hours until beef is fork tender
Place is wide, shallow bowls
Garnish with fresh mint
Serve with potatoes, orzo or simple crostini toast
Keep Calm and Shuck On!!!