Wednesday Will – Shakespeare week: Elizabethan Saltinbocca for BIG Ben Jonson


The Ingredients of the Dish:
5 sole filets
2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
5 ripe tomatoes
Chopped parsley or basil
White wine
Extra-Virgin olive oil
A pyramidical, hierarchical social order
Salt and pepper
Lemon Juice

The Chefs of the Recipe:
Will Shaksper – head chef of The Globe
Anne Hathaway – his 2nd best bed. It’s unclear whom or what was his 1st
Ben Jonson – one of both his greatest friends and fans

serves 5 people or 1 Ben

This appetizer I whipped up when that mountain-bellied, rock-faced sweetheart of a man, my friend Ben Jonson, came out to my country house in July a few years back. On the phone he told me he was getting ready to head to the sea for a few weeks, so he asked me not to make anything too heavy. Said he wanted to look as trim as a young fox once he got to Lamorna beach. I promised him that I wouldn’t try to outfox his dietary works but then added that I wasn’t an alchemist. “Tis not an easy dish to make a fox’s spritely gait from a whale’s lumbering paddle,” I said. “One trots lightly over land, and though seeming secure in his sleek summer coat, oft falls as hunted pray to an early unmasking blackness. You, my beloved Ben, are more like the latter – an imposing mass that knows no rival or threat but its own hunger for depth. You are like a well-tailored Savile Row suit to those flashy-holed Cavalli-jeaned, young beachcombing dudes who swim in the shallows. And as you are often like to say, every man in his humor, and he must fit within it as he fits within his own clothes. But don’t sweat it. Anne and I will to the fish market go and there catch a few days worth of fysshe beyond our beloved crown’s over angling fysshey days. You’ll leave here thinner than in our lordly seasons at Chamberlain. Man, those were good times.” I figured a diet of fish, not much oil or fat, lots of veggies and no sack for a week might actually trim Ben down a bit. He appreciated it. And if he hadn’t slipped out every night for a Pizza Hut extra-large double-stuffed, it probably would have. Anyway.

Though a simple enough dish to make, timing, as nearly always when preparing fish, is essential. The first thing is to take sole filets and lay them flat. On top of each filet place a thin slice of prosciutto. Role the layer whole into loose tubes, fish on the outside, and secure them using wooded skewers or toothpicks. Next, peel and seed the tomatoes and hand puree them into a lovely, fragrant pulp.

Place a pan on low heat and pour in some oil. Crush the garlic cloves and place them in the pan along with the bay leaf and flavor for two minutes. In the meantime go get a triangular shape into which you’ll spoon in the fresh tomato puree. I use the billiard rack from the old converted rec room, now my wine cellar. (Anne insisted. She told me, “Will, if you a different keep from my kitchen for all your Bacchian bottles do not find, this Anne will you find dutifully killing you with unkindness. Though you are the king of your London Globe’s oyster, in this Stratford nest Hathaway rules. So go get shakin’ if you don’t want me to turn you into a speared William. And don’t forget to pick up some skim milk and Venus razor blades at the drugstore when you’re through.”  I didn’t argue. Trust me, you don’t want to fool with Anne when she’s pissed. Hell hath no fury.) If you don’t have a shaped mold it’s not a tragedy. The idea is to make a triangular tomato bed onto which you’ll place the fish filets once they’ve been cooked.

Remove the garlic and bay leaf from the pan, raise the heat and cook the tubes for a few minutes on each side, adding a little dry white wine. Remove, and place the first fish tube near one point of the triangle, but outside the puree. Then place the rest of the rolls ever more into the triangle until the last one, which should be placed completely into the tomato puree form. Grate some lemon rind over the whole, or even a dash of hot pepper depending on your personal taste, a few drops of fresh extra-virgin olive oil and lemon. Decorate with fresh basil or parsley and serve lukewarm with a bottle of good white wine. Or a barrel, if Ben is dropping by.

The real recipe: 
5 Sole filets
5 Slices of Prosciutto di Parma*
Grated lemon rind
Basil leaves
5 Large, ripe tomatoes
E.V. Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon juice
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Bay leaf
A half-cup of white wine
*ask the butcher or deli clerk for the ‘sweetest’ or tenderest they have

serves 5

Take the sole filets and lay them flat. On top of each filet place a slice of prosciutto. Next, role the filets and prosciutto into a loose tube, with the ham inside. Use long wooden toothpicks to hold each tube, poking them all the way through, side-to-side. Set aside. Next, peel and seed 5 large, ripe tomatoes. After doing so, with two good kitchen knifes hand-puree them into a lovely, fragrant pulp. It should be done by hand as most blenders will tend to over-puree the pulp. Salt just a little, and then leave it on an inclined plane to slowly allow the water to drain. You can make a comfit with the tomatoes if looking for a little more flavor (see Anthony and Cleopatra’s recipe.)

…for something that might have quelled the hunger of a real Big Ben, link to Stwed Beeff recipe:

…and Ben’s Eulogy for Will:
To the memory of my beloved, MR.   W I L L I A M   S H A K E S P E A R E:

what he hath left us.


{Ben Jonson’s Eulogy to Shakespeare}

To draw no envy (Shakespeare) on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy Booke, and Fame;
While I confesse thy writings to be such,
As neither Man, nor Muse, can praise too much.
‘Tis true, and all men’s suffrage. But these wayes
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise;
For seeliest Ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but eccho’s right;
Or blinde Affection, which doth ne’re advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Or crafty Malice, might pretend this praise,
And thine to ruine, where it seem’d to raise.
These are, as some infamous Baud, or Whore,
Should praise a Matron. What could hurt her more?
But thou art proofe against them, and indeed
Above th’ ill fortune of them, or the need.
I, therefore will begin. Soule of the Age !
The applause ! delight ! the wonder of our Stage !
My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye
A little further, to make thee a roome :
Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe,
And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mixe thee so, my braine excuses ;
I meane with great, but disproportion’d Muses :
For, if I thought my judgement were of yeeres,
I should commit thee surely with thy peeres,
And tell, how farre thou dist our Lily out-shine,
Or sporting Kid or Marlowes mighty line.
And though thou hadst small Latine, and lesse Greeke,
From thence to honour thee, I would not seeke
For names; but call forth thund’ring schilus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to vs,
Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
To life againe, to heare thy Buskin tread,
And shake a stage : Or, when thy sockes were on,
Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughtie Rome
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britaine, thou hast one to showe,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time !
And all the Muses still were in their prime,
When like Apollo he came forth to warme
Our eares, or like a Mercury to charme !
Nature her selfe was proud of his designes,
And joy’d to weare the dressing of his lines !
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other Wit.
The merry Greeke, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not
please;But antiquated, and deserted lye
As they were not of Natures family.
Yet must I not give Nature all: Thy Art,
My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part;
For though the Poets matter, Nature be,
His Art doth give the fashion. And, that he,
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses anvile : turne the same,
(And himselfe with it) that he thinkes to frame;
Or for the lawrell, he may gaine a scorne,
For a good Poet’s made, as well as borne.
And such wert thou. Looke how the fathers face
Lives in his issue, even so, the race
Of Shakespeares minde, and manners brightly shines
In his well toned, and true-filed lines :
In each of which, he seemes to shake a Lance,
As brandish’t at the eyes of Ignorance.
Sweet swan of Avon! what a fight it were
To see thee in our waters yet appeare,
And make those flights upon the bankes of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the Hemisphere
Advanc’d, and made a Constellation there !
Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheere the drooping Stage;
Which, since thy flight fro’ hence, hath mourn’d like night,
And despaires day, but for thy Volumes light.

B E N : J O N S O N




Wednesday Will – Shakespeare Week: The Baked Turbot of King Lear

The Turbot of King Lear: The Pre-quel Text

“O flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!” Romeo and Juliet, 2.4


There are various legendary Celtic recipes of a head chef Llyr having a heap of trouble with a trio of ungrateful daughters as he tries serving them dinner. William’s early “Turbot” adaptation varies on those original dishes by moving back the timeline – showing Lear’s children as infants and Lear himself before he chopped and cooked his way to the top. Shakespeare does keep a tragic end, however, when despite Lear’s best efforts to convince them to try his baked fish his kids instead humiliate him into taking them to MacDonald’s.

The later, full version “The Turbot of King Lear” is often proclaimed not only to be Shakespeare’s most accomplished plate but even the most impressive meal ever prepared by any English-speaking cook. It has been copied and adapted around the world and is still one of the few standards against which only the greatest of acting chefs measure themselves.

The Ingredients of the Dish:

3 young kids

1 large turbot, enough to feed them

Some capers

More potatoes

Pepper & salt

Extra – Virgin olive oil

The Chefs of the Recipe:

Lear – takes care of the kids on Sunday and Monday nights when the restaurant he works at is closed

Hygd – his wife, out to visit her family

Gonoril – one of their daughters – ‘this fish is too dry’

Regan – another of their daughters – ‘this fish is too wet’

Cordelia –  their youngest daughter –‘mmmbbpth’

serves 3 kids. Daddy will grab a sandwich later. If he’s lucky.

Act III, sc. 1

Enter Lear, about 40, and his wife, Hygd. Their daughters, Gonoril, 5, and Regan, 3, are playing while Cordelia, still a baby, sits at the kitchen table in a high chair, watching and fidgeting. Hygd, holding her purse and car keys, speaks with Lear at the side door

Hygd: Ok, so you’re really sure you can handle the kids without me for a few hours?

Lear: Attend to your family, dear Hygd.

I will meantime here attend our 3 kids,

Dividing myself equally between

Them. Go, take your time, have fun, and please do

Give your mother my biggest, warmest hug.

Hygd: (unsure) Ok, but call me if you need anything. Bye, honey. (pecks him on the lips)

Lear: Bye, sweet-cakes. See ya’ later.

Hygd: (off-stage) And don’t get upset if the girls don’t want your baked fish for lunch. I know you hate it when I take them but they just love MacDonald’s Macfish sandwiches so don’t be a snob about it. And don’t be a baby about it either. We already have 3, and not everyone is born a royal gourmet. Be back soon.

Car motor starting, sounds of a car leaving, garage door closing. Lear waves, shuts the side entrance and checks on the oven. As Lear recites his soliloquy Gonoril and Regan begin fighting over a toy

Lear: MacDonald’s! Good-for-naught, oil-filled fast food,

The creeping bane of our tongues and noses.

I will not have my chef’s daughters eating

Industrial meat, sugared potatoes

Fried in rendered fat, no, never, never,

Never, never, never. They will not eat

It in my car, they will not eat it near

Or far, they will not eat it here or there,

They will not eat it anywhere. Gonoril,

Regan, cupcake, are you hu…

Gonoril: Daddy, Regan’s not playing right.

Regan: I am too! You’re not playing right.

Gonoril: Uh-uhyou didn’t give me a turn.

Regan: Yes I did…

Cordelia: Ga-go-go-ggrrblu.

Lear: Kids, now what did mommy say about playing nice?  If you can’t play nice I’m gonna’ have to take your toy away and give you two a time-out.

Gonoril: But dad-yy…

Lear: No. It’s almost lunchtime anyway. Here; you can watch TV for 10 minutes while I finish making lunch. (picks up the TV remote and turns on the TV. Gonoril and Regan immediately stop fighting, sit down and stare wide-eyed at the screen. A clown is on the screen juggling. Background sounds of the clown) Pretty clown. Ok. Where was I. Oh yeah.  Burgers and fries.

A culinary nothing. And nothing

Can come from nothing. By Jupiter, I’ll

Teach my children now in their greenest days

How to take proper care of a proper meal. (looks into the oven)

My flatfish cooks above the thinly sliced

Potatoes I layered beneath. Oven,

Rumble thy bellyful; fire, heat; fish, bake.

In a few minutes I’ll clean away the bones

From Neptune’s fresh tidbit and serve it with

The best olive oil, salt, parsley and

The fish-juice soaked potatoes. They’ll love it.


Act III, sc.2

The kids are all sitting at the table, Gonoril in a regular chair, the other 2 in highchairs. Lear is on his feet with a spoon in one hand, trying to get Cordelia to eat. Regan is crying. Gonoril is playing with her food. There are particles of fish, potato, parsley and other unidentifiable organic substances on the table, floor, chairs, walls and Lear.

Lear: Common’ now cupcake, you can do this for da-da. Open up your little mouthy a little bit, now, watch the train, choo-choo, choo-choo…

Cordelia:  (shaking her head and keeping her mouth shut) Grbbllmm-mm. (She reaches up with her hand and deflects the spoon and its contents onto the floor.)

Regan: (wailing) Daddy I don’ like it, I don’ LLLLIIIKKKEIIT!

Gonoril: Daddy can we go to MacDonald’s?

Cordelia: Grppbbbrrp.

Regan: (whining) When’s mommy coming back? When’s mommy coming back?

Lear: (trying to answer Gonoril as he takes a different spoonful of food for Cordelia)Honey, please just try a little taste.

Gonoril: But it smells funny.

Enter Felix, their gray and white cat, jumping onto the kitchen table

Gonoril: (she reaches out and pets the cat) Kitt-y

Lear: Honey, don’t pet the cat on the table, Felix, down, get down…

Cordelia: (reaching for the pretty kitty) Da-do-goop-goop-goop kitt-kit ppttttffs.

Regan: (Wailing again and this time pounding the table)Mommymommymommymommy…(on the last ‘mommy’ she pounds the table harder. The cat scurries away. The plate of food from which Lear is trying to feed Cordelia bounces over the edge and hits him solidly on his toe)

Lear: Eeeoooww! Howl, howl, howl, howl! That hit my foot like a stone! (Reaches down and touches his foot, then starts hopping around. The kids start laughing. Then Lear’s cell-phone rings. He answers, a little out of breath) Hello? What? No sweetcakes, everything’s under control. No, no. They ate just fine. We’re gonna go for a walk at the shopping center. You? Ok. Take your time. Bye. (Hangs up. Looks at the kids who are all looking at him) Fine. You win. But if you promise not to tell mommy you can each have a MacIcecream cone to, OK?

Gonoril: Wee-hoo!

Regan: Yum, yum, yum, yum!

Cordelia: Grrrmmphyummm!

Lear: You guys go get dressed and I’ll clean up. (Exit Gonoril and Regan. Looks at Cordelia) Oh, would you look at you. Here, cupcake, let me wipe off your lips.

Lifts her up off the high chair as he wipes off her face. Exits. Exit recipe



The real recipe:


2-4 potatoes, thinly sliced about the width of 2 quarters of edge

if yes, evoo

if no, extra-virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

Chopped parsley


1 large turbot or other flatfish

serves 2-5, depending on the size of the fish

Make sure the potato slices are well seasoned & covered with olive oil. Place in a large tray to bake about 10 minutes in a hot oven, 150 degrees Celsius. Then place the fish on top of the potatoes, add some capers here and there and continue cooking 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. In the meantime chop the parsley. When the fish is ready – I’ve found it easiest to judge by the fishes’ eyes, usually. As soon as they start whiting over the fish is probably done – remove, de-bone and dribble some evoo (extra-virgin olive oil) over it. Accompany with boiled vegetables, the sliced potatoes and a well-structured white, maybe a white Burgundy.

…you could, if you have three daughters with 3 different tastes, cook a fish in 3 different styles:


for another Willful recipe: Wednesday Will: Prospero’s Sweet Persimmon Ending

Wednesday Will – Shakespeare Week: Prospero’s Sweet Persimmon Ending

Wednesday Will: Prospero’s Sweet Persimmon Ending

Prospero’s Sweet Persimmon Ending
“Light as a soufflé, but…substantial enough for the main course.” Virginia Vaughan, 1960, describing a version of The Tempest“

Prospero’s Sweet Ending” was the last recipe Shakespeare created for The Globe’s menu and is today universally thought to be one of his most memorable plates. Moreover it is one of those rare recipes that Shakespeare seems to have invented out of thin air. It is said to have influenced many other chefs around the world through the years, including Shelley, Browning, Renen, Auden, Liyong, Namjoshi…the list goes on. In its delightful simplicity he appears to set a clear picture of what good cuisine can almost magically accomplish, and in its classic technique he seems almost to be re- minding the “macro” crowd not to forget the roots of where their new culinary worlds come from. In this version the traditional figure MacCaliban has been removed and a somewhat ambiguous writer character added.


The Ingredients of the Dish:

1 ripe persimmon

A force 6 sea
Several copies of The Complete Recipes of Shakespeare, Abridged
A passenger ship
1 ball of rice or vanilla ice cream

1 seasick writer
1 cube of gelatin
The Chefs of the Recipe:
Prospero – a magician in the kitchen
Ariel – his assistant
B. – a seasick writer
Act III, sc. 9
Enter Prospero and Ariel into a ship’s galley. A., the author, is sitting uncomfortably on a chair writing the text on the other side of the page
Prospero: You do look, writer, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismayed. Be cheerful, sir.
Your courses soon will end. Though these your chefs
Will sail on in words, your cooking games
Here close. Like butter in a heated pan
They will melt away, completely away,
The red-sauced pastas, the meaty seconds,
The appetizers, this short book itself,
Yeh, all your recipes, will now dissolve;
And, like an Easter dinner digested,
Leave not a rack behind. They are such stuff
As brunch is made of, and this odd meal
Will be rounded with a nap. B., I am vexed.
With what dessert should I close this last act?
Should I a lush soufflé softly bake up,
Or use the southern fruit here in this kitchen
And with it make a subtle, spirited,
Dinner ending, flavored gelatin?
B: My deadline was months ago. Make the faster dish.


Prospero: I wish your peace. The persimmon, ripened
To its own breaking, cleaned, its hard brown seeds
Removed if the fruit holds them. I pray you,
The ripest, or the pudding’s flavor will
Unfold itself. Use a blender softly
To make a reddened potion, then with a
Gelatin spell, charm the sweet broken puree
Into whatever form you wish it to
Take, and let it set in a cool, soft place

Until that, its new form, remains.
Beside the red dish a cool iced cream
Of whitest, sweetened rice, rounds and completes
The final plating. Now breaks this keyboard.

(hands a plate of the finished pudding to me, the writer, through the page) 

Here this book is finally done
And though its writing was less fun
Than presumed, you can relieve
My despair if you retrieve
Of but one of these dishes.
Please fulfill my last of wishes:
Have some mercy on these pages
For which you paid a bit of wages
As you with hunger would not be
Release, indulge, a recipe
From Pasta Noir, the new:
Shakespeare, Abridged. Adieu.
Exit Prospero. Exit recipe The real recipe:
2 ripe persimmons without any seeds (skins can remain) 
1 tbl sp. of granulated vanilla sugar
120 grams or so of whipping cream

1-2 tbl sp. of powdered vanilla sugar
serves 2
Clean well the persimmons, slice into chunks and blend them with granulated sugar in a blender. Fresh whip the cream and powdered sugar. In transparent serving cups alternate 2 layers each of the whipped cream and blended persimmon, the refrigerate for at least an hour.  Serve by themselves or with sweet rice ice cream and a small glass of Passito di Pantelleria. You can make a more solid pudding using gelatin of course but if the fruit is good…it’s better without. Try it in season…you’ll be surprised.

link – a different Italian pudding from the 17th century (with dates and raisins):

Wednesday Will – Shakespeare Week: Shylock’s Ham and Cheese Bruschetta

Shylock’s Ham and Cheese Bruschetta, otherwise called Without the Ham

  “They are as sick that surfeit with too much, as they that starve with nothing.” The Merchant of Venice, 2.1

Shylock’s Ham and Cheese Bruschetta is based upon two intertwined, iconic works: Italian bruschetta, or toast, and televised Texas Hold’em tournaments. Though scholars have pointed out the seeming influence of other recipes on the dish such as Marlowe’s The Tomato of Malta, Boccaccio’s Breads and Il Pecorone – ‘The Big Sheep’, a book of appetizer recipes attributed to Ser Giovanni of Florence – the only clear influence we the editors see might be from Dame Cook of Wisconsin and Ser Gianni of Cleveland’s Pasta Noir.

The recipe itself is probably a natural development from Shakespeare’s starving university days when for him finding paper money in his pocket was unheard of. Bruschetta is cheap eats, an earlier, healthier Italian version of Burger King. His usage of lemon zest, fresh Robiola cheese and avocado, however, add a surprising depth and stratification of flavor to more traditional versions of the dish.

The Ingredients of the recipe:

Good bread, enough to feed some hungry Christian men and women and infidels
Garlic, enough to flavor the bread
Extra-Virgin olive oil, enough to dribble over the bread
Pepper and salt and hot pepper and basil
Lemon essence
Diced ripe tomatoes
Robiola or other fresh cream cheese
Anchovies, enough to pucker your mouth
Mozzarella, enough to melt over the anchovies
A ripe avocado

A hearty pork sausage
Some creamed potatoes
Some well-boiled broccoli
A pound of flesh
A good disguise or two
Other various ismsThe Chefs of the Recipe:
Shakespeare – the card dealer
Jessica – daughter of one of the card players, girl friend to another
Portia – a card shark in her spare time
Bassanio – another player, but good-lookin’ and sensitive
The Prince of Morocco – ditto. But really full of himself

The Prince of Aragon – ditto. But even more full of himself
Shylock – another card shark. Full time
Lorenzo – see Bassanio

Graziano & Solanio – men. And commentators
Antonio – another man. Another commentator. Invested all of his savings with Bernie Madoff

Nerissa – falls for Graziano. Has more practical things to do than play cards

serves Venice

Act I, sc. 1

Texas Hold’em tournament: Venice. Sitting at the table are: Bassanio a good-lookin’ guy with almost no chips; The Prince of Morocco, a cool-lookin’ black hunk wearing lots of gold and hip-hop clothes; Portia, ‘the attorney’ disguised as a man and wearing sunglasses; The Prince of Aragon, a well-groomed white guy wearing an expensive suit and watch; Shylock, a short, ugly-ish old guy wearing a beanie, with lots of well-stacked chips in front of him; and finally Lorenzo, who has the 2nd smallest mound of chips. Enter Graziano, Antonio and Solanio, commentators. Finally enter Nerissa. She looks at Graziano from across the room

Graziano: (looking back at Nerissa) Yo’, Tony, check out the hooters that just walked in.

Antonio: Jerry, please. We’re live in 20 seconds.

Solanio: Geez, Tone, lighten up, will ya’? You’ve been moping’ around like you’re a Browns fan or something.

Antonio: Yeah, you’re probably right. Sorry guys. I’ve just been feeling so bummed lately. I dunno’… maybe it’s this global warming and all. It’s like you can’t be sure about anything anymore. Anyway, we’re on 3, 2, 1….

Solanio: A welcomed return to one and all
To this our Texan-held card tournée in
Lovely Venice. In this hand only the
Mysterious attorney and his princely
Sun-tanned opponent on the table remain.

Graziano: Our over-reaching royal player
Is convinced his two queens are to enough
To reign in this pot’s crowning chips. Yet the
Final card has yet to be o’erthrown.
And look there! ‘Tis a diamond’s three! Now the attorney’s color and scale are both complete. Oh thwarted destiny, that such a low card could undo such high status.

Antonio: All’s in for our unsuspecting blue blood.

Solanio: The attorney’s straightest flush is revealed, and so breaks the prince’s royal bank. The deposed Moroccan bows and takes his leave as the lawyer reaches over and takes his chips.

Graziano: Stay, I prithee, for God’s sake. After these
Our unhumble commercial messages
There are yet many sad stories to tell….annnd, we’re off.

Antonio: Crap.

Solanio: What’s wrong?

Antonio: Oh, I know I shouldn’t have but…I bet 3 grand at 3 to 1 that that old Jewish card-shark wouldn’t win – again.

Graziano: Whoa, that was a risky bet. Shylock’s been pretty consistent. Anyway, chill. There’s 3 other players. Plus Bassanio’s still in, even if it don’t look like it’s gonna’ be his day.

Graziano and Nerrisa exchange flirting glances

Graziano: Hey, guys, I’m – ah – goin’ to the kitchen and get something to eat. You want me to bring anything back?

Solanio: Yeah, I’m starving. Get a tray of some of that Italian toast.

Graziano: OK. Be back in a jiff.

Exit Graziano and Nerissa. Roar from the crowd. Flourish. Aragon stands up from the poker table and exits

Solanio: Wow, that was fast. That lawyer guy’s really good. OK, we’re on.

Antonio: When you our treasured audience did leave
Us to attend your nachos and dip of
Halapenioed cheese, 5 men remained.

Solanio: But in the time between the forming of
A word and its passage through a mistress’
Well-formed lips, our keen lawyer did sue Spain’s
First son. With clever wit and cleverer
Cards he did dispatch the trial and hand.

Antonio: So now the blood of Aragon, playing the odds wrong, has from the poker table gone.

Solanio: At least, departing after his darker royal cousin, he may claim the silver and not the gold blinking idiot’s reward. Yet a potent bankrupt portrait of vanity did both men make.

Antonio: Yes, and between the graceless cards that have of late given Lorenzo a slow adieu to his diminishing chips, and Bassanio’s too sensitive, unbluffing face, it would appear the game will soon be down to a Christian lawyer and a heathen hustler.

Solanio: Now the card shrunken Lorenzo takes courage and with his paired two of hearts rails against Shylock’s scriptured, hidden hand. But what’s this? Shylock’s creeping daughter has stepped into the scene.

Enter Jessica from the audience behind Shylock. She looks at his cards, then steps around and tries to get Lorenzo’s attention as she shakes her head. Shylock notices and complains to the dealer, who indicates that Lorenzo has forfeit the game

Antonio: And so Lorenzo makes a rapid end to his swan-like fade, ceding his last chips to Shylock.

Solanio: The clever aged man has played well, first teaching the table how to bluff, and now how a cheating bluffer should be answered. Tis a shame he is an infidel. I have never seen so shrewd a mind in so unkind a character. It’s like watching the devil.

Antonio: A devil that uses poker for his pricey purpose.

Solanio: As our producers use pricey publicity to profit from our poker party?

Antonio: Peter Piper picked a pack?

Solanio: I yield to the greater nonsense. Please, do return after our wits have recovered from this witless banter after these wittier messages…an-n-nd, we’re off.

Graziano returns with Nerissa, each holding a big tray of freshly toasted bruschetta

Solanio: Finally! I’m so hungry I’d even eat poached peppers. What you got?

Graziano: No peppers this time. Tomato and basil with Robiola and grated lemon rind; plain tomato and basil; sausage, broccoli and creamed potatoes; anchovies and melted mozzarella; and just plain olive oil.

Solanio: And the garlic?

Graziano: Rubbed on fresh. Oh, and this one has some avocado. You want some Tony?

Antonio: No thanks. I’m not hungry. Plus with your two mouths full someone’s gotta’ do the commentary. And 3,2…
Gentle viewing friends, a happy return.
Bassanio has just broke his win-less
Streak with well-played winning cards, aided by
The lawyer’s odd, wit-less folding plea.
As the game swiftly deals itself to its
Flattened, singular time of crunch,
Sal and Greg are here crunching the hunger
Of their manly bellies with a manly
Crunchy toast. I hope they leave some for me.

Solanio: ‘Tis to us Christian men this world falls, crunch and all.

Nerissa: Hey there, buck-o. Have not everyone, Jew, Christian, man, woman….

Solanio: Eat, pray, love? (Pause. Nerissa, Graziano and Antonio look at him without saying anything) Sorry.

Nerissa: As I was saying, has not everyone
In our large studio audience eyes?
Have they not noses, stomachs, teeth, senses,
hungers? If you feed them, will they eat not?
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what
It means to me. Graziano, start passing
The loaded trays around. Or no nook-nook
Will you find in my bed tonight, capisce?

Solanio: Nook-nook?

Graziano shrugs his shoulders, then takes the bruschetta into the audience

Antonio: Methinks our good Graziano has despite himself found a beautiful, unbonded bride-to-be. As in the game, here in our weekly poker program anything can happen. The outcome remains hidden ‘till the fattest of ladies sings the highest of notes. Just as Bassanio’s apparent going-out-of-business sale has been dis-inventoried by his latest hand’s well-transacted full-priced bluff.Solanio: Indeed. The last hand was the first hand where the lawyer’s hands seemed tied. It seemed almost as if he wanted Bassanio’s hand on top of his own.Antonio: Smelling blood with the new deal, Shylock has now swooped in for his pound of flesh.Solanio: Pound of flesh? Never heard that one before.

Antonio: Yeah, well, I read a little. Anyway. What’s this? Bassanio has all-ed himself into this surprising final pot. Now each one of his chips is in.

Solanio: And it does look as if Shylock has both Bassanio and the lawyer by their hips. The spaded jack on the table like Odysseus leads Shylock’s straight line of soldiers stealthily behind their Trojan defenses. Fortune’s misfortune has Bassanio holding 2 of the remaining jacks. So barring a knighted poker he hath over-esteemed his own readiness, and like Troilus and Troy so he and his carded house will fall from Shylock’s hidden advance.

Antonio: The hand and game do seem ended. Yet our lawyer holds two queens. And what’s this? The 6th card now gives him a 3rd. Shylock pauses not to reflect: showing no mercy he pushes all his ducats in the centered mound.

Solanio: And so the lawyer to match the bonded wager must place all of his chips on the table. The 7th river card flows…and reveals another queen! Poker! The Attorney has won! Do you believe in miracles?

Flourish. Shouts. Confetti. Antonio jumps around like a happy maniac

Antonio: Yee-hoo!

Shylock looks dejected. Portia goes over and gives him 3,000 worth of chips, then takes off her disguise, turns, takes Bassanio in her arms, dips him, and gives him a long kiss on the lips. Nerissa follows, doing the same with Graziano, then Jessica with Lorenzo

Solanio: What a lovely, lively finish. All’s well in this week’s well-ended game. Next week we’ll be in Verona with both some old players and 2 notorious, local gentlemen. Until then, adieu…

End recipe


The real recipes:


For the base:
Sliced good bread
Good extra-virgin olive oil
Garlic cloves sliced in two
The idea here is to get the best bread you can find, fresh Italian country or Portuguese loaves, slice it according to your own taste, toast it until begins to turn brown and crusty, and then rub the garlic across the crunchy bread while it’s still warm. Then dribble a few drops of good olive oil over each slice, and add a pinch of salt. At this point you can even put Kraft Maccheroni and cheese on top and it’ll still taste good.For the first bruschetta:
1 freshly diced tomato
Ripped or roughly sliced fresh basil
Freshly grated lemon rind
A dash of ground pepperoncino
Robiola or other fresh cream cheese
Extra-Virgin olive oil
Take all the ingredients except for the cheese and mix well, then set aside a minute as you spread a very thin layer of cheese across the base toast. Then spoon the mixture on top. Makes two pieces of toast. Serve with beer or any chilled light red or white wine, or with ‘mezzo e mezzo’: half 7-up, half red wine. You could crumble some toast into the beer like they did in Shakespeare’s time. Nah.For the second bruschetta:
2-4 anchovy filets under oil
2-4 slices of mozzarella, as fresh if possible
2 fresh zucchini flowers, optional
Place one or two of the filets on each piece of toast, then layer the flowers and the mozzarella on top. Place in a broiler just until the cheese melts over, then remove and grate some black pepper on top if you like it. Makes two.For the third bruschetta:
2 flavored sausage links, pork, kosher, turkey, whatever, as long as it’s good
1 small broccoli
1 creamed potato
Olive oil
Fry up the broken pieces of meat in a teaspoon of olive oil. Boil well the broccoli, only the green flowers, and drain. Boil the potato, then mash, adding cream until it becomes a sauce. Season and flavor as you will, with thyme, cinnamon, chives, etc., or with nothing. Mix all the ingredients when ready, taste for salt and pepper, then spoon it over the toast. Makes 4-5 crunchy slices.
link – the play: 

link – the food:

or link, from the gentyll manly cokere, a different toast with capons and sweet almond saffron milk:

Pasta Noir. It’s free, it has real recipes, and it may be the only recipe book with bloopers… ebook:

Wednesday Will – Shakespeare Week: The Most Delicious Italian Shepherd’s Pie of Titus Andronicus

“The feast is ready, which the careful Titus/ Hath ordained to an Honourable end.” Titus, 5.3

Often derided as Shakespeare’s sloppiest meat dish – even to the point of questioning whether “Shepherd’s Pie” was actually prepared by Shakespeare or an attempt by some lesser-known chef de garde manger to get promoted to the line – when well prepared it can be a powerful, delicious main course. Though as usual the dish is, um, “based” on a previous recipe from another chef (in this instance from the Italic chef Ovid,) Shakespeare’s “Pie” differs from the original in its incorporation of artichokes and ham. (An interesting aside: an earlier version of Titus’ Pie is rumored to have been a big underground hit in the middle east, conquering palettes throughout Israel and Palestine. Which goes to show that some hungers are the same for all of us, no matter what sex, creed or culinary background we come from. )

The Ingredients of the Dish:

Artichokes, enough to make someone choke
Lamb ground up enough as to be indistinguishable from;
Ground veal, and
Ground ham
Pepper & salt
Butter, enough to sweeten the ground meat
Milk or cream

The Chefs of the Recipe:

Titus – owner and chef of ‘Il Generale’
Judy – Will’s second daughter
Shakespeare – Shaksper, Shakesper, Will, The Bard, William, whatever.  What’s in a name, anyway?      Shakespeare by any other spelling is still the Bard.

For this Italian adaptation of our own British dish I have to give credit to both Anne and my second daughter, Judy. Before our holiday in Rome last year, my wife, (I wanted to go to the beach but Anne, well, she is Anne and therefore must be obeyed,) started asking around and researching on-line for any lesser known but interesting places to eat. She sent an e-mail to Judy, who was interning for 6 months in Brussels. It so happened that the family of a new Italian friend she met there ran a quaint little trattoria, ‘Il Generale’, within walking distance of the main Roman imperial ruins.
Her father, Titus, is the head of the show and spends much of his time in the kitchen. He and his family knew we were coming and so insisted on making us a special tasting feast. After the usual appetizers of various artisan cold cuts and stuffed grilled vegetables, he had us try a few of the classic Roman pastas including a deliciously adapted ravioli carbonara with a fresh egg yolk filling. I was expecting the usual tripe or stewed ox-tail to follow, which in fact came later, when instead they brought out what looked like a sort of Shepherd’s pie. Yet its taste was quite different, simple but exquisite. I asked him – Titus is a well-traveled, well-educated man who speaks several languages, even if he isn’t English – for the recipe.
“Your request does grace me with the highest honor,” he answered, “and with that honor I will happily tell you of the meat and potato pie I’ve bid you to eat. In unequal proportions of veal, ham, beef and artichoke you make the grounded base. Bake it once, then into that shell spoon in a well-buttered puree of your choosing, be it straight potato or mixed with white beets or peas or other flavors as you like it, then let it warm again in the oven until that combination is rightly cooked. Add the lightest hint of cinnamon in tempered gravy you’ve collected and place lightly above and beside the plated piece. A simple thing, almost a dainty dish.”  Dainty! After the meal, Anne and I skipped dinner for the next 2 days! But it was worth it. For dessert we had a lovely ricotta cheese pie and, of course, a fresh tiramisu.
Well, it’s almost time for me to go. We’re off to the movies, Anne and I. An Anthony Hopkins flick. Some story about a vengeful chef. Now that’s a movie I want to see…

The real recipe:
For the Shepherd’s Pie:
650 grams of ground lean veal
175 grams of ground lean lamb
100 grams of ground, lean cooked ham*
75 grams of boiled artichokes in small pieces
Salt and pepper
7-8 potatoes
2-3 white beets
*as a Titian twist you could add some ground blood sausage
serves 8

Ask your butcher if he or she can make you the ground meat and artichoke combination. If they can?t, mix the meat and artichokes into one patty at home, blending in the seasoning. In a 1 large or two smaller pie baking dishes, place the meat evenly, making a sort of thick meat crust. Place in a hot oven until the meat no longer sticks to a fork you poke into it. Be careful not to dry out the meat. Remove once cooked. Meanwhile boil the potatoes with their skins on, and the cleaned beets. Remove the potato skins after boiling. Mash the whole into a thick puree using butter or cream to make the consistency you prefer, though the puree shouldn’t be too liquid. Mixing in pureed peas works well. Spoon the mix into the meat crusts and place back into the oven for 15 minutes, remove, and let stand a bit before serving. Thicken a veal stock with flower and butter as gravy, flavoring it with a pinch of good cinnamon. Serve with a hearty red wine: a Cabernet Sauvignon or Amarone will work just fine.

link: a Basic recipe for a medieval/Renaissance-style meat pie –
link to another tragic Wednesday Will