Tuesday, May 29, 2007


One might speculate, from the dearth of new material on this VTB, that I've either lost my blogging mojo...or suffered a debilitating brain injury...or found some other, more satisfying outlet for my irrepressible creative impulses...or devoted my life to memorizing pi.

All of pi.

Well...those are all good guesses. But, in truth, the answer is 42.

Now that we've cleared the air on that one, let me tell you about my past month or so.


When we last parted ways, I had just turned 40. Many people have since asked me how it feels to be forty. Well...I can honestly say that it's a lot like being 39 and 11 months old; give or take a month.

Contrary to popular belief, age is NOT a state of mind. It's a state of body.

I'm feeling rather 17-ish from the mind down, so I greeted the arrival of middle-age last month with more amusement than panic.

My mind, however, *does* feel 40. I consider that a very good thing. Have you ever tried talking with a 20 year old?


And, so...in order to prove that a bit of fizz remains in this old can of Dr. Pepper (and also to ensure an adequate supply of grief counselors in case I ceased to believe the questionable assertions that I typed in the prior three paragraphs), I invited a bunch of friends (pictured above) over for the type of meal that has killed plenty of other people before the age of 40.

I dusted off The Salivator and made 15 lbs. of pulled pork--7.5 lbs. of which was stuffed into Zip-loc bags and carted-off to four separate homes when the party ended. As Big Mamma says, "Better to make too much, than not enough."

The party went well. The food turned out kinda great. And I had such a good time that my heart was doing hemidemisemiquavers for much of the afternoon. And that, my friends, occurred despite the fact that everything I drank that day would be properly classified as a depressant.

But alas, there was one tragic element to the party. Felix, my beloved uke, broke his A-string a few days earlier. This meant that there would be no musical accompaniment to my guests' singing of "Happy Birthday" unless I could somehow coax a replacement string from Spain's notoriously one-dimensional retail industry.

Why "one-dimensional?" Because the only product that you're 100% assured of finding at a Spanish store is cigarettes.

Needless to say, my guests sang a capella. But it wasn't a total loss. I did get to blow-out all forty cigarettes on the birthday cake.


Speaking of Felix, he has been repaired. I bought a set of replacement strings last week--IN CHICAGO!!!--and the passion between my hourglass-shaped lover and me burns brightly once again.

Hemidemisemiquavers are certainly more difficult when attempted with one's feet, but a piece of cake when compared with the earlobes.


And now for a picture of my beautiful daughter. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

She, by the way, is just a few short years away from having black belts in aikido, jiu-jitsu, muay thai boxing and another, as-yet undocumented martial art taught only to a select group of neckless yak herders living on a windswept mountaintop in southwest Bhutan. Bruce Lee had a pretty fast roundhouse kick, but my daughter...well, she will kick in hemidemisemiquavers.

So to any four or five year old boys out there reading this, heed my seven-year advance warning: Don't EVEN think about it! If she don't get you, I will.


My boss at Acme Low Carb Tongue-Depressors, Inc. recently forwarded me a Chicago Tribune article listing what each US presidential hopeful would like to do for a living were he/she not in politics.

Barack Obama would be an architect. John McCain, a foreign service diplomat. Mike Huckabee, a bass guitarist for a touring rock band [He gets my vote]. Tom Tancredo, president [Nice try, brown-noser...but I'm pretty sure that you'll have to settle for President of your local Moose Lodge instead.].

Hmmmm...what would I like to do for a living should this legal gig ever run dry? I was having trouble coming-up with an answer, until a friend in the midwest US sent me this photo:

An old school bus, a metal saw, and a smoker big enough to make Pulled Elephant.

I nearly wept with joy when I first laid eyes on this photo. And do you know what's the best thing about this set-up? If a customer should contract salmonella from your coleslaw, you and your smoker can be over the state line in a hemidemisemiquaver.


Acme called me over to Chicago for some meetings last week, and I didn't need them to ask twice.

It was a typically fabulous visit.

I saw friends and family. I jogged several times with my boss. I bought a stack of Nick Jr. DVDs at Borders and sun dresses at Target (Jeez...cotton products are so much cheaper in the US!!!) for my daughter. Hertz was kind enough to give me a Mustang convertible. My brother, Frankenfeet, was kind enough to deep-fry a turkey.

And best of all, I got to eat...

...Mexican food at Frontera Grill.


...Cajun food at Heaven on Seven.

Take THAT, Big Finn!!!


Catchyawl soon.


At 4:10 AM, Blogger Headless Blogger said...

DeTraglia, you were within range of my International Smoke Day party and you missed it. I'm taking this personally. Just wait and see if I drop by La Mancha with a gnome in hand on my next trip through your neck of the woods.

Elsewhere, have you been to the Frog Blog? An ex-pat foodie blogger living in Paris. Not a prolific poster, but a lot is their when he does. http://louislavache.blogspot.com/

HB says, check it out.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Headless one:

Yes, I was in the Chicago area last week during ISD.

And believe me, I analyzed it from sixty different angles...but could not find a way to make the trip to Wisconsin for your ISD extravaganza.

I assure you that I felt pain--your brisket photos continue to haunt me.

Brisket and a bottle of New Glarus ale. That was all the motivation that I needed.

That pain is made worse when I see the impressive inventory of Weber products on your deck.

I encourage everyone to check out Headless Blogger's blog. The link is on my sidebar. He has thoroughly documented his ISD menu. Man...if you think I'm a Q-nut, you'll blow a gasket when you see what Mr. and Mrs. Headless jointly pulled-off last weekend.

Sigh...sorry, dude. I really, truly did consider making the drive. If I cudda, I wudda.

It's just a matter of time before we'll share a slab of spares.

Smokin' Sal

At 2:39 PM, Blogger christina said...

Now that looks like a party!

Two things:
1) You really need to bottle whatever it is that keeps you feeling 17 from the brain down and sell it to all of us fading blossoms.

2)Where DO you put all that food??? You seem to have inherited some remarkable genes.

And I can *totally* picture you opening Smokin' Sal's BBQ when you're 65 1/2 (going on 18).

At 2:42 PM, Blogger The Big Finn said...

I'm seething...and salivating!

My last trip to Chicago was a really quick one and my only eating opportunity was lunch at Chipotle's with my sister.

Chipotle's is no Frontera Grill, my friend.

Don't worry, because I'll be back in Chicago soon, and...

...I'll show you!

BTW...Happy Belated Birthday! Welcome to the 40+ club! You have middle-aged wisdom combined with the BMI of an 18 year old. Congratulations!

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous sp said...

"My mind, however, *does* feel 40. I consider that a very good thing. Have you ever tried talking with a 20 year old?"

Sal, this isn't going to help with your 22 year old Ukrainian girlfriend. Happy birthday, BTW.

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Christina: Where does all that food go? I can assure you, it goes straight to my hips. BTW...niiiiiice profile photo.

TBF: Let's settle this man to man. You...me...Hot Doug's...a bucket of duck fat french fries and a tray of wild game dogs. Ok, Ok...and some Goose Island Honker's Ale. First one to do a Roman pays for lunch. PS: Glad to have you back, amigo. Some of us were starting to worry...if you know what I mean.

Sydney Pollack: I'm sorry...did you say *talk* to my 22 year old Ukrainian girlfriend?!

At 9:06 AM, Blogger christina said...

What hips???

And thanks. :-)

At 6:39 PM, Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

I'm with Christina... What hips??? Looks like you had a great party.

BTW, ever watched Bad Boys II? I love the scene where Burnett's (Martin Lawrence) daughter is being picked up by her first date and then Lowrey (W. Smith) adds to the fun. Could be you when la pequeña invites her first admirer over ;)

At 8:48 PM, Blogger Michael said...

You know I thought I saw you on the street...but I was afraid to walk up and ask if you were a blogger...I've been burned too many times!

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


Hmmmm...really? Let's see...I was in Chicago the afternoon of Saturday, May 26. I pretty much walked from Dearborn and Randolph to North Avenue beach and back. I was wearing a black Gore-tex jacket.

And yes, I admit it. I was flanked for four Armenian belly dancers and a greyish Irish Wolfhound. My shoes were lavender clogs. I was wearing an apron, but you wouldn't have noticed because it was fleshtone.

Was it me?

At 8:46 AM, Blogger EuroTrippen said...

As someone who's turning 39 this year I'd like to think 39 is the new 28. But it's great seeing someone survive the big four-ohhhh with sense of humor intact... and kudos to you for not using that atrocious 'lordy, lordy -- Sal's turning forty' nursery rhyme.

After living in germany and expat-blogging for over a year, I've just now come across your blog... great stuff!


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