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Razor Thin Prison Garlic
Remember the scene in Goodfellas where Paul Sorvino cuts garlic with a razor blade? These mob guys are incarcerated and have plenty of time to cook the Italian food being smuggled to them but if you have all the time in the world can’t you figure out how to cut garlic as thinly as possible? Apparently not, because the garlic slices in Goodfellas could have been thinner. The reality is that these fictional mafia guys are total losers when it comes to the art of prison garlic. It took me two minutes to prove that razor cut garlic can be sliced thinner than what is depicted in the 1990 Scorsese film.
I didn’t have a straight razor handy but was able to slice a clove with an X-Acto blade and it was translucent and about twice the width of the blade, or 0.04 inches, making Paul Sorvino’s slices seem chunky by comparison.
Made a giant batch of marinara using 50 cloves of garlic, cooked in olive oil on low heat. A fun experiment but there is no reason to cook tomato sauce this way with this much garlic. I just happened to have some pre-peeled garlic from Mekong Rainier that was getting old and needed to be used.
Goodbye Garlic Gulch
Garlic Gulch is a name for what was once an Italian enclave in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. I have studied Seattle’s Garlic Gulch and even borrowed a hard copy of Eric Scigliano’s 1987 Seattle Weekly cover story (Good-by to the Garlic Gulch) from him for research a decade or so ago. I self-published a cookbook called The Garlic Gulch Cookbook: Italian American Delights, and a series of essays (Garlic Gulch: True Tales from South Seattle) using one of my aliases: Mauricio Salvatore Scavattino.
In the latest chapter of the disappearance of Garlic Gulch, Borracchini's Bakery & Mediterranean Market is closing after almost a century. Never saw an Italian person shopping or working there. Second and third generation immigrants sometimes move on from the family business and this happened at Borracchini's, which resulted in neglect. Scigliano described Borracchini's employees this way: “decidedly non-Italian, and just stare dumbly when you say ‘capocolla’ or ‘provolone.” In 1987.
”Aye Aye Isernios! The start of something great.”
More opinions about Seattle’s old school Italian food business families like Oberto, Isernio and Merlino coming soon to this newsletter. Or not. Let’s just say that in every case the second or third generation has cashed out of the family business – which usually includes lucrative real estate holdings. Conglomerates take over and use their economies of scale to attempt to increase market share using clever advertising.