We named her Matilda Spike Eugenius Gonzaga, but the Italian Scallion and I called her Tillie. “Spike” because someone suggested we call her that; “Eugenius” after a Renaissance pope or two (there were at least four) and also because we thought she was – a genius, that is. The “Gonzaga” came from the esteemed Renaissance family in Mantua; originally, we wanted Medici, but the Medici simply weren’t as crazy about dogs as the Gonzaga (dogs appear frequently in art that they commissioned).
Tillie was about 50 pounds of black and white mutt, and always wore a red collar. Markings like a short-haired border collie (if such a creature exists), the gait of a whippet. Quintessential American mutt. We plucked her from a truck marked “Free Puppies” at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market in upstate New York on July 21, 1990.
Her puppyhood and teen years were idyllic; swimming in lakes and chasing squirrels in the Arts Quad at Cornell University became passionate pursuits. Her day job was that of receptionist at the Philosophical Review, where she worked for six years, meeting, greeting, and wagging.
Culinarily speaking, her life was a drag. Standard dog food with the occasional scrap of mortadella thrown her way. This porcine product habit formed the basis of a life-long obsession with Italian pork products.
Tillie emigrated to Florence, Italy, in January 1997, whereupon her life changed dramatically. She was allowed entry practically everywhere, the most important being restaurants and bars for aperitivi. She ate often, and a lot, but still maintained her trim girlish figure.
Tillie died in November 2004 in the middle of our project; she was dictating her memoirs to me, and filling it with favorite recipes.
So this explains the title of this blog, which will be filled with old dog memories, new dog exploits (I’ll introduce you to the Three Stooges soon), recipes, a little bit about Renaissance art (Tillie enjoyed peeing on many a Renaissance palazzo), stuff about Florence, about Tuscany, about eating, a lot about food.