A few weeks ago, while driving through the Columbia Gorge on a rainy, dark evening, I turned the radio dial to NPR in hopes that I would be soothed by the programming. The Columbia Gorge (home to one of our pear growing regions) is beautiful, but that stretch of I-84 is winding and narrow, pocked with rain-filled tire ruts and shared by streaming, slow-moving semis. At the time, I was white-knuckling the steering wheel, trying to feel less tense about the constant mist impeding my already reduced vision at dusk, when I felt myself perk up at a mention of pears.
The program was Travel with Rick Steves, and Rick’s guest Fred Plotkin was talking about the simple pleasures of food in Italy. Fred is the author of “Italy for the Gourmet Traveler.” He is currently writing a book about Michelangelo, and a caller called to ask more about Michelangelo and his eating habits.
Here’s what Fred had to say about Michelangelo’s diet:
“Michelangelo lived almost 89 years, so he must have done something right in terms of his nutrition. I think that he probably would not be called a gastronome. He liked pears…a lot. His standard gift was to send 33 pears to someone – 33 for the 33 years of the life of Christ. He also had a cheese cellar, and in that cellar he kept several types of sheep’s milk cheese, one of them called marzolino. Marzolino for the month of March. It was only made in March, and he particularly loved that cheese. He had a vineyard and he produced some wine—1503, I discovered, was a good vintage. He produced some olive oil, and he ate bread. And that really was about it. There was not much more. He lived on pears, cheese, oil, wine, and bread. The book, when I do finish it…will really cover Michelangelo in terms of Italy.”
Looking forward to this book—fascinating information!