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In Praise of Cold Cuts

Our dear friend Patty from New Jersey came to visit us this past weekend, direct from Hoboken, NJ, birthplace of Frank Sinatra and baseball, and the place Brenda & I called home for eight years or so. Patty brought a gift, one that took thought and compassion for our current situation, and we appreciated it deeply.

Patty brought cold cuts.

See, when you grow up Italian in the New York area, with Grandparents living in the Parkchester section of Bronx, NY, you get accustomed to having access to fine quality cold cuts -- prosciutto, sopressatta and of course, the ultimate in cured fatty meats: coppa. Pronounced "KOO-pa" in my family, this meat is often pronounced "kappa-GOOL" by many Italians. C'est la vie. (It's similar to the way NJ Italians pronounce the pasta spelled cavatelli "gaba-DEEL", as in "Hey, Sal, gimme a nice plate of gabba-DEEL and broccoli, huh!") Call it KOO-pa, call it "kappa-GOOL", but for chrissake, don't call it fucking lunch meat, you hayseed. Coppa is a cold cut, not a lunch meat. Go ahead and call bologna lunch meat, and put it on some Wonder bread, and god help you if you think that's a sandwich. You probably put ranch dressing on your pizza, too (and think Domino's is pizza, for that matter).

Anyhoo, I arrived home from work Friday night to discover Patty & Brenda had already gotten home from the airport, and Patty couldn't wait to present our housewarming gift: a little white lunch cooler packed with goodies from Fiore's Deli in Hoboken. We hastily opened the packaging, which was the standard Italian city deli packaging: single layers of thin sliced cuts of meat, stacked on white deli paper, folded in half and placed in a plain clear plastic bag. No fancy wrapping paper, no scanner labels, thank you very much.

She brought hot and sweet coppa, as well as some sopressatta. We stood in the kitchen, the three of us, peeling off slice after slice of the cured pig gold from the pile, and I was brought right back home. It was a great gift, because I just can't get that stuff here in Boulder. Whole Foods sells some decent prosciutto, but I have not had a decent sopressatta here, and you simply cannot find coppa at all. There's gotta be a decent Italian deli in Denver, but I haven't looked into that yet.

And don't even get me started on the pizza. That's for another time, another rant. Right now, I'm gonna go have a slice of coppa.