Every now and then (but certainly not often enough), I come across a dish so perfect in its simplicity and flavor that my passion for food is moved to a higher pitch. In Florence on a snowy evening, it was a bowl of pasta and shaved truffle. I still remember the first time I tipped an oyster shell up to my mouth — an oyster that I had just dug up from a bed off the coast of France. And this week, it was tortellini in brodo at Giacomo’s. It’s a seemingly mundane affair: chicken and beef broth with tortellini containing pork, chicken, mortadella (more pork), ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano. But the aroma of the broth, made from bones and other great things, wafts upward, and any threat of mundanity evaporates. The liquid is rich and delicate at the same time, and you won’t leave any in the cup. Along with the six or seven tortellini you are served, you will consume all of the broth, because it is that good.
And then there are the tortellini. They are floating in the broth, packages of comfort in the form of meat and cheese and egg and flour and olive oil. You put the first one in your mouth, and the warmth makes you feel better. Then you bite, and that warmth is joined by a smile and perhaps an involuntary sigh. A sigh of satisfaction, one that signifies that nothing else matters at this moment. (You might want to do what I did and drizzle a bit of olive oil into the cup; I added a touch of salt because I found the liquid needed it.) Those meats and cheeses will, I am certain, make you feel as wonderful as they made me feel.