You might think he's doing something else. But in reality, he's learning how to sit/stay, and not doing a very good job of it (he eventually learned how to do so beautifully ... sort of ).

mercoledì 14 aprile 2010

Venetian Dogs

We were in Venice this past weekend ostensibly attending a conference. What we were really doing was eating and drinking with friends.

One friend, an architectural historian like her husband, created the idea/theory of the Venetian Dog. This theory of theirs (for her husband co-authored it) dates to Carnival in 1995. Characteristics of the Venetian dog include short legs, long body, alert gaze, funky tail, game attitude, can’t be a breed (so rule out pugs who fit the bill up to this point). They are sometimes stout, with low centers of gravity, which enable them not to fall off boats or other aquatic means of transport. They are probably what all dogs would evolve/devolve into if they continued to mate recklessly with other hybrid types. (Notice how much of these details re: the Venetian dog are, in fact, architectural, just like the theory's creators.)

A disclaimer: the dachshund is not a Venetian dog. It is a breed. Here’s a picture of a black and tan Venetian dachshund enjoying the sun. The next two examples, above noble dachshund, are more to type (though some could argue that the white dog looks suspiciously like a Bichon).

Dogeressa of the Broken Halo (the architectural historian) related this theory while swirling a dry white vermouth at the lovely enoteca/bacaro Bancogiro along the Grand Canal. Julia and I spritzed – that is, we drank spritzes, a most Venetian thing.[1] Many Venetian dogs strolled by.
An article in the April 12, 2010 gastronomy section of il Giornale’s ( on-line publication announced “Sopresa: lo spritz veneziano ha ubriacato anche l’America (Surprise: The Venetian spritz has even inebriated America). It's made with prosecco, club soda, and Aperol, and has been re-named the Venetian Spritz in the United States. The more classic version replaces the Aperol with Bitter Campari.[2] Variations? Use Cynar, Martini, or Select instead of the Aperol or Campari. It’s thought that the drink was introduced in Venice by the Austro-Hungarians at the end of the 1800s, as they found Venetian wine too strong. (For a fine recipe, go to
At any rate, for the most part, the drink is orange. And you drink it, usually, on the rocks.

(Besides spritzing nicely, and pouring fine wines by the glass and bottle, Bancogiro has swell food. Many of us convened there for a lively lunch, downed the creamy baccalà, savored the monkfish wrapped in lardo topped with artichokes, and let the sea bream carpaccio with a yogurt/mint sauce melt in our mouths. We did all this while sitting outside watching the boats go by.)
(Another place to spritz nicely is at Cantinone già Schiavi: offerings seen at left with their tasty cichetti. No ice in this spritz, and it’s pinker rather than orange-y, but it’s still quite good. The aforementioned tasty cichetti, from left to right, are shrimp/lettuce/hard boiled egg, hard boiled egg with anchovies, mortadella roll stuffed with gorgonzola, a walnut, and lettuce (heavenly), pressed octopus crostino with shredded zucchini, and a crostino of baccalà mantecato (salt cod creamed with olive oil and spices.))
What better place to dog watch than St. Mark’s Square, surely teeming with Venetian dogs? We splurged at Florian, and ordered tea and toast. Pigeons outnumbered Venetian dogs.

A “toast” in this country is different from what we stick in the toaster. It’s an Italian grilled cheese sandwich, but uses no butter. Tillie loved to eat them all over town, especially at a now-defunct bar on Borgo Pinti which got it just right: hot, melted/slightly oozing cheese on lightly toasted bread (they do these things on a George Foreman-type grill here).

The toast at Florian was divine, perfectly toasted, cut in three longitudinal finger slices for sharing. Which we did, all three of us.

A Toast for Tillie

2 slices white bread, preferably Pepperidge Farm or something similar
2 slices high-quality, thinly sliced boiled ham
1 slice Fontina cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F about 10 minutes before you think you’re hungry. Assemble the toast by placing the ham on top of one of the bread slices, add the cheese, and top with the other slice of bread. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese starts to ooze. (Flip it over after the first five minutes.)
Waldo approaches Venetian dog status. He sports all the qualifications. Zoe’s Person bridles at the thought that the brother and sister are Venetian. Perhaps his legs aren't short enough.

Bancogiro, Campo S. Giacometto, San Polo 122, Venice, 041/5232061.
Caffè Florian, Procuratie Nuove, Piazza San Marco, Venice, 041/5205641.
Cantinone già Schiavi, Fondamenta Nani, Dorsoduro 992, Venice, 041/5230034

Photographs thanks to Zoe’s Person and Erudite Friend (see below) aka Spritz Gal

[1] Do keep in mind that these drinks pack a punch. Said Erudite Friend seemed to think that they had low alcoholic content (they don’t) and drank too many of them. There was hell to pay the next day, in which she experienced the"wages of sin" phenomena.
[2] Campari is a concoction of bitter herbs, aromatic plants, fruit, alcohol, and water. It used to be colored with cochineal (crushed bugs, much used in setting red dye during the Renaissance) but praise the goddess, is no longer. Aperol is made up of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona (a tree, and a good Scrabble word), and has about half the alcohol content as Campari.

2 commenti:

  1. What do the Broken Halo Architectural Historians say about similarity of the Venetian owners to their Venetian dogs?

  2. Dogaressa of the Broken Halo cannot comment on the similarity of Venetian persons to their Venetian dogs because said dogs generally seem to roam about solo, an assertion of their confidence and independent spirits...I hypothesize that it is an expression of their venezianita that they are comfortable in any campo in the city and apparently know their way back home. I have never seen a Venetian dog on a bridge, which might lead one to believe that they stick to their own neighborhoods, but I swear that just last week I saw one in campo San Barnaba in the morning and saw him again near S. Polo later in the same day. These guys get around. Which might explain their features, no?