Bitten I thought I was by Cupid’s arrow on the morning of my seventh wedding anniversary, but No. It was in fact a hornet. There I was, flying into my Friday at an eye-opening clip on the moped, my blouse, apparently, open. Within sight of the hospital, I felt a thwap on my chest which I assumed was a rock or a nut loosed from one of the trees overhead. Then the shoot of pain tearing through my left breast. I kid you not, I could feel the sting in my left hand and up the left side of my neck, and wondered for a blink if all the French fries I have eaten in my life have finally come back to haunt me. Turns out, I was stung in the heart, or at least near enough that my nerves could tell no difference.
This is how I know I missed my calling to serve in the military. At 30 mph, I neither swerved nor slowed while a hornet ground its nethers into my chest. I crushed the wasp and flicked its crinkled corpse into the air, while trying to distract myself with the jokes I might tell my team once I made it to work. “If I were a flat-chested woman, I would consider myself lucky to get this particular sting. Might have even let the bug do the other side.” The welt remains like a pseudo boob. Which, I suppose, is for KP an unexpected anniversary gift in its own right. Happy 7th!
Pane al Formication, er, Formaggio
Adapted from The Italian Baker
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup grated pecorino cheese
1 egg white, beaten
Stir in the sourdough into the water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the eggs and oil. Mix the flour and salt and stir half into the mixture; stir in the remaining flour with the cheese. Knead on a lightly floured surface, sprinkling with 2 or 3 tablespoons additional flour as needed, until firm, elastic and silky, 8 to 10 minutes. The texture may be slightly gritty from the cheese.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
Punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a round loaf or a log that is fatter in the middle and tapered at the ends. Place on a baking sheet or peel sprinkled with cornmeal, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with a baking stone in it to 425. Just before baking, brush the loaves with the egg white. Slash the long loaves with 3 parallel cuts, using a razor. Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal and slide the loaves onto it. Bake 40 minutes, spraying 3 times with water in the first 10 minutes. Cool completely on a rack. If you experience the sensation of bugs crawling on or under your skin its because A) You are actually a bread addict and this post has you jonesing; B) You read this post and you are my mother and highly suggestible. Now that you mention it I think I do feel a bee stinging me right now!; or C) You live in Minnesota, and bugs actually are crawling all over you. DEET is no match for the entomological explosion that is this summer.