The first time I had to roast a pork loin on my own for a job, I was in San Martino–a teeny weeny village outside of Lisciano Niccone in Italy. I offered pork loin because I thought it was the thing to do. Umbria is pork country. The people were English and loved pork.Â They wanted to taste for themselves a chestnut and corn fed pig that spent its days in the Italian sunshine rolling around in mud with a view. I went down to the butcher, bought the loin, seared it, covered it with tiny plum tomatoes, slivers of garlic, sprigs of rosemary, an onion and a pour of Chianti, shoved it in the oven, and then I got nervous.Â I had no idea how long it needed to cook. I couldn’t remember.Â I couldn’t remember if I was looking for a little rosy in the middle or if a slightly pink pork would kill anybody with a cold. The guests were on the terrace, eating bruschetta and drinking prosecco.
The village of San Martino is made up of a bar and a phone booth. The bar is no longer open. The owner got tired and decided he would rather use the bar as a living room. The phone booth stood next to the main road. I went in like Superman, and closed the door. Â It’s not right to say you’re going to do the job and then leave, but nerves have no interest in the ethics of a situation. I put all the money I had into the phone and called my friend Marjorie in New York. “Marjorie,” I said, “I don’t think I can cook anymore. She told me what to do and then she told me that she loved me. I walked back up the hill and took charge of the pork. I downhill skied past Marjorie’s suggestion of cooking it to 155 degrees, which is exactly right–at 155 I sliced it and fried it–and then covered the whole thing with sauce. It was like shoe leather, and they loved it.
Yesterday, Jonathan walked me all the way to a go see and sat in the waiting room while I tried to look cookish in front of a photographer who was shooting me from my knees.Â My Aunt Anette used to do that because she’s 4 foot 3, and in every one of her photographs I am the spitting image of Attila the Hun.Â Maybe Attila is the new Rachel.Â When we left my husband said, “You look good.Â I love you.”
This is the kind of help when it is what it is with no time or possibility for change. It should be called Holiday Hope.