Sticking with V for another: it’s 1899 and we’re in Florence with a “seedy looking Calabrese” called Cesare. Cesare’s mates have just commandeered a barge loaded with crated Chianti flasks, throwing the captain into the Arno.
Cesare waved. “A riverdeci.” Soon they had disappeared, dissolved in the darkness. Cesare put his hands in his pockets and started to stroll. He found a stone in the street and began to kick it aimlessly along the Lungarno. Soon, he thought, I will go and buy a liter fiasco of Chianti.
Cesare waves as the barge spins away “towards Pisa and the sea.” They’re all getting drunk on the barge, he’s wandering away. I forget why he didn’t go, or what they’re trying to do. It’s a confusing book. You just go with the flow of the river and drink the Chianti.
I picked up this (not quite litre) fiasco of Chianti at the South Melbourne markets on a stinking hot day in February. “Lovely Chianti!” the Italian woman behind the counter exclaimed. She told me very charmingly and not un-forcefully that I would put it in the fridge for just a small time when I got home and then I would enjoy it. I instead sat on it for three months until this blog got going.
A fiasco, by the way , is a what that rustic straw-basket bottle is called! I will pursue more fiascoes.
The Chianti is tasty stuff. Sweet but pretty tannin-ey on the tongue. Basically tastes like wine. Getting stuck into a bargeful of it while floating through Florence sounds pretty ideal. I can empathise too with Cesare’s strolling home planning to get himself a bottle. Reminds me of strolling home past Good Beer Week posters plotting buying fancy beers. Planning to buy alcohol is really a great pleasure. Pretty much what this blog’s all about I suppose.
The bit of V. with all the Chianti is on page 212 of my copy.
Update: Chianti also gets a fun if slightly racist mention in Pynchon’s uncollected early story “Mortality and Mercy in Vienna:”
He went into the kitchen without waiting for an answer and found Duckworth sitting on the sink trying to open a wine bottle. The cork popped out suddenly and the bottle slipped and Chianti splashed all over Duckworth’s whites. “Gaw damn,” Duckworth said, staring at the purple stain. “Mizzable Guineas can’t even make wahn bottles raht.” The buzzer rang and Siegel called, “Get that would you, beautiful,” and picked the Chianti bottle up off the floor. “Still some more.” he said cheerfully. He was beginning to feel jovial, irresponsibly so; a lightheadedness which he realized might be one of the first stages of hysteria but which he rather hoped was some vestige of the old nonchalance which had sustained him on the Continent for the past two years.