The Great Pong

So I took the tray of Freshly’s Chicken Livorno


(noting that the film was rather puffed up) and put it into the microwave for two minutes.

And the entire house was filled with the reek of hot rotten chicken. A truly Great Pong. I threw the tray into a plastic bag and rushed it outdoors. Opened the front and back doors of the house all the way, to air the place out. It took quite a lot of time.

Not a good beginning for the Menorial Day holiday.

First thing: the noun pong, marked by NOAD2 as Brit. informal:

a strong, unpleasant smell. ORIGIN early 20th cent.: of unknown origin.

(There’s a coresponding intransitive verb.) A wonderfully expressive word, somehow even better than stink, stench, or reek.

Second thing: the dish from the Freshly service:


(Wine not supplied by the service.)

Chicken Livorno with White Beans & Kale: This savory Tuscan-inspired dish features an herb roasted chicken breast atop a hearty Great Northern bean stew simmered with fire roasted tomatoes, smoky bacon and garlic.

Actually yummy, if it hasn’t gone off.

Third thing, dishes alla Livornese. From Emiko Davies’s site on 3/22/11, “Livorno for Foodies”:

Most people may not know this but Livorno is a great foodie town. It’s only an hour’s drive from Florence but it seems a world away from the Tuscan capital. Historically known as a very open city, it was a duty-free port from the 16th century with an open door policy that allowed its merchant population – made up largely of Jews, Armenians, Dutch, English and Greeks in particular – to flourish. It lost its status as a free port when Italy was unified 150 years ago, but the centuries of cosmopolitan inhabitants have left their mark.

Livorno today appears as a slightly scruffy version of the 18th-19th century renovations to the city, but the Venice district (named for its series of deep, wide canals) still evokes its past as the “ideal” Renaissance city of the Medici. The central market, a grand, covered Liberty style building, lies on the edge of the Venice district, and is a great place to start your tour of Livorno’s multicultural past and down-to-earth port culture.

Locally caught fish is the highlight of the market, but the butchers’ stalls also reflect the diversity of Livorno’s kitchens – lamb’s head, wild boar, guineafowl and galletto livornese, the local Leghorn chicken, named after the old, anglicised name of the city.

The real reason for a foodie to visit Livorno, of course, is for the fresh seafood-based cuisine – down to earth, honest and simple. Cacciucco is the most famous dish of all, a rich fish tomato-based stew cooked with numerous types of locally-caught fish and shellfish, which is said to represent the diversity of Livorno’s people. It is this mixed population that has created the base of the interesting culinary traditions of the city.

Livorno’s most identifiable dishes (often followed by alla livornese) usually contain tomatoes, which were introduced by Livorno’s Spanish Jewish inhabitants.

Definitely makes you want to visit.

In any case, all is not seafood in Livorno. There’s also the chicken.


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