Deep in the middle of the novel bang BANG, there's this guy Cardoso. He's not really in the center of the action, but until he is, we watch him cook a seductive dinner for the woman of his dreams. Her name is Concetta, Connie and she's radically candid-open, that is, a woman incapable-no, not interested in- the ordinary deceits that make ordinary life possible.
So he, disabled he, cooks her asparagus. Little skinny phallic asparagus. It's not exactly a dirty joke, it's just a pointer. Here's how it goes:
He picks some really skinny spears, three-quarters of a pencil, breaks off the woody part. He puts some water in a broad shallow pan and a steamer basket over the water. The 'ragus goes in as soon as the water boils, cover goes on. Two minutes, the crunch is soft, yielding but still fresh and live, just like, well never mind. Then the whole pan goes in the sink and the cold water rushes over and the sulfur smell is washed down the drain. Cardoso, who's now thinking about Connie so intensely that it's hard for him to remember the ordinary thing that he wants to do. But the green reminds him and he hits the dried pan with a shredded garlic comma and some butter and a squirt of olive oil from this little cylinder that would remind him of something if he weren't immersed in the dairy-tree smell coming off the pan as it heats and the cold bright green hits it with a bitty squeal.
Shaking the pan the pan's shaking him back roasting browns getting to them both. A spoonful A of his forearm and then out and on to a plate.
Salt. By God salt. There's a Pinot Blanc from this German Frog called Trimbach and he doesn't pour it in the pan, but in the glass and he looks at her and she's laughing like a crazy person who's used to being nuts, no big deal and he puts the plate between them and she reaches for a spear and smiling wickedly bites the damn head off.
Lynn Hoffman, author of The New Short Course in Wine and of course, the novel bangBANG.