Monday, October 3, 2011

2nd Best Movie, 1st Best Biscotti Recipe

Bicycle Thieves, also known as The Bicycle Thief, is a 1948 Italian neorealist film directed by Vittorio De Sica. It tells the story of a poor man searching the streets of Rome for his stolen bicycle, which he needs to be able to work. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Luigi Bartolini and was adapted for the screen by Cesare Zavattini. It stars Lamberto Maggiorani as the poor man searching for his lost bicycle and Enzo Staiola as his son.

It was given an Academy Honorary Award in 1950, and, just four years after its release, was deemed the greatest film of all time by the magazine Sight & Sounds poll of filmmakers and critics in 1952. The film placed sixth as the greatest ever made in Sight & Sound's latest directors' poll, conducted in 2002, and was ranked in the top 10 of the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.

Antonio Ricci is an unemployed man in the depressed post-World War II economy of Italy. With a wife and two children to support, he is desperate for work. He is delighted to at last get a good job pasting up posters, but he must have a bicycle. He is told unequivocally, "No bicycle, no job." His wife Maria pawns their bedsheets in order to get money to redeem his bicycle from the pawnbroker.

Part of me has been thinking lately that maybe I should share my all time favorite biscotti recipe with you.

To be honest, I would love to take credit for this masterpiece, but truth be was developed by an American-Italian guy named Lorenzo.

Lorenzo worked with me, side by side for several years. I found him and his opinions refreshing.

If I liked the blue plate, Lorenzo chose the red one. When I selected the red....well, then he opted for yellow.

Before Lorenzo became my co worker, he had spent some time in Italy obtaining culinary training.

Even though he was about 15 years younger than me, I really learned a lot from him. But w/o a doubt...the greatest recipe he shared with me was this biscotti recipe.

If you try it, you will become smitten and all other biscotti flavors will seem savage when you compare them to this epic treat.

I kinda wanted to pair this "Best Biscotti" with the "Best Film" ever.

So keeping in the Italian theme.....I went and selected "The Bicycle Thief"

The description I posted above the dotted line was something I pulled off the internet. I am not worthy to preach on Italian Film, and due to the fact that I didn't actually see this movie for the first time until it was 63 years old, well I guess that would make me a band wagon jumper huh?

But I do remember watching it late on a Friday night, it was on Turner Classic Movies, and as the plot thickened, you could feel yourself getting dragged into some kind of metaphorical sewer.

Sue McGleno walked into it about 20 minutes after me.

We didn't speak a single word.

Sue McGleno stood in place for over an hour, she didn't even sit down.

Her attention, our attention was welded to the pending shame that we could feel slowly floating to the surface.

When the film ended, I told Sue McGleno that I was going to go into the cinder block basement, strip naked, and lie under the wash tub in the fetal position.

She didn't even comment, she went into the bathroom instead, brushed her teeth and went to bed w/o saying good night.

So with all that shame, all that tension, I couldn't figure out why it was so powerful.

The next morning (a gray - drizzly sky kind of day) I sat in the Super America parking lot, I was depressed. I opened my 5 Hour Energy and gulped it in one swallow.

Next I remembered that this was the exact parking stall I was in when I heard President Reagan had passed away.

I began to feel sick.

So now I figured I needed an emergency jump start, so I called my writing/life mentor Mike Finley..........

Me -
"Mike, last night I watched The Bicycle Thief, I gotta tell ya, it was the greatest film I ever saw, but yet just thinking about it depresses me to the point of vomiting, how can I have a movie like this be my favorite?"

Mike Finley -
"Well Doctor, first off you are wrong, your favorite movie is actually Ben Hur, so your favorite movie isn't quite as depressing, people just die in chariot races and there is a bunch of lepers, it's not nearly as bad."

The heavy cloud started to lift upward.

Then Mike went on speaking phrases in Latin that I gave one of those phone "Uh Huh's" to, even though I didn't have a clue as to what he was saying.

When he starting describing cinematic lighting techniques and other Italian film directors who were delving in their craft years before I was born, I knew I was lost.....

But like all good mentors, Mike took time to look over his shoulder of thought, and noticed I was a mile behind.

That's when I heard his phone smile.......

"Ya know Doctor, just think of it like this, if Italian films were record albumns, the Bicycle Thief is like one of Brian Wilson's drug induced Beach Boy albumns, theres nothing wrong with liking it.

Now I understood comepletely.

Ok, The Bicycle Thief is the second best film ever, but this biscotti recipe is #1.

The batch size might be bigger than you like, but deal with it.......

#'s OZ's
AP Flour 1 8
Pastry Flour 1 X
Sugar X 12
B-Powder X 1/2
Salt X 1/3
Pepper X 1/2
Dark Italian Wine X 8
Olive Oil X 6
Eggs X 6
Golden Raisins X 6

Have at it.....................


  1. In retrospect, and with a little editing, I can do no wrong. No wonder I hate telephones!

    I really enjoy how you tie your stories and recipes together. It makes your audience look beyond the thing they thought they enjoyed (biscotti, de Sica), to see the other thing and enjoy that, too.

    The real truth is, there are no favorite movies, just the one that's playing now. I get more pleasure watching Meatballs 3 right now, than remembering that I admired Citizen Kane. The bird in the hand, and all that. And I think that's a good thing.

  2. Fast & furious 5....just saying....LOL