Letter of the Month

by |
08/14/2008 12:00 PM |

So, this is a totally new feature I just came up with based on this particular letter from a guy named Paul, who I now love. If The L Magazine were a sitcom (and dear god I wish we were), this Paul character would show up about once every seven episodes in some ridiculous plot twist and he’d be played by a non-acting C-list celebrity, like, say, Sam Champion. Here is but a sample of Paul’s fine, fine work:

"Oh, one more thing. All this talk of small shoes and Italian stuff reminds me of Venice because the people there are pretty small and used to make these dopeass little elf-looking shoes of all colors and pointed toes back in the day…"

For more talk of small shoes and Italian shoes, read on…

"Since it’s an Italian restaurant, Scarpetta [Paul is referring to Jeff Harris' review of Scarpetta, from the current issue. -Ed.] is understandly [sic] an Italian word. It derives from ‘scarpa,’ which means ‘shoe.’ The suffix ‘-etta’ is one of several Italian diminutives (a more recognizable one being ‘-ino’/’-ina’), so it denotes something of relative smallness with respect to its nominal root. So (I know, duh) ‘scarpetta’ means ‘little shoe.’ But ‘scarpetta’ is most commonly used to refer to something one does (perhaps, if one is so impressed and/or if present company wouldn’t deem it absolutely uncouth) upon finishing a dish, be it pasta or salad or meat or coconut panna cotta with guava soup: one might ‘fare la scarpetta,’ which means to use a chunk of bread to wipe up remaining puddles of tasty sauce, dressing, gravy, reduction, etc. (okay, I guess it would be a little strange to wipe up a dessert plate with bread, but since I’m barbaric and a bread lover, I’d probably do it).

I just thought I’d pass on that tidbit, my reason being twofold: 1. If your reviewer, Jeff Harris, weren’t aware of the meaning, then it’s quite a lovely coincidence that he called his review “Can I Get Some More Bread” and, more pointedly, mentioned that “a sweet marsala wine sauce had [him] dragging bread through the plate after [he] was done.” 2. If your reviewer did know the meaning, awesome, and someone out here picked up on his subtle textual references. [For space reasons we actually had to edit out two sentences about this etymology, so now we're sad and pissed. -Ed.]

If I could afford to eat out, I’d go to Scarpetta. Bearing extra bread and wearing small shoes, of course.

But alas, my budget is nothing of the sort. To get extra guacamole at a taco stand is to splurge.

And a bit of tortilla is certainly the means for scarpetta (or more properly, though they don’t say it, zapatita!) in that context!

Oh, one more thing. All this talk of small shoes and Italian stuff reminds me of Venice because the people there are pretty small and used to make these dopeass little elf-looking shoes of all colors and pointed toes back in the days when said city was a trade port of almost incomparable importance as it bridged east and west and invented credit and bankruptcy (great story about how that one came about), not to mention quarantines (also a good story). Maybe they still make those awesome little shoes, and maybe Bjork buys them. Whatever. They’re not common any more, at any rate, having gone the way of toga-like robes, loincloths, codpieces and the like.

I mention all this because I forgot to point out (and again, perhaps you all knew) that the ‘bridge of sighs’ you spoke of in your review of the prisons surrounding us in this city (brilliant thing to make us aware of, by the way) is not an original structure. In Venice, linking a section of the Doge’s Palace with holding cells, is the ‘ponte dei sospiri,’ the ‘bridge of sighs,’ which had the same function as that which you mentioned in your details about one of the prisons here: prisoners would supposedly emit a sigh of hopeful or forlorn sentiment while crossing over it.

I shall, at this juncture, with a much more meaningless e-sigh, shut the fuck up.

Thanks for your attention.

Ovvero, grazie della vostra cortese attenzione.

Cordiali saluti,

some guy named Paul D’Agostino