My grandpa, Doug, use to say,
If it ain't red, it ain't no good.
I think his love of the color red started with his first pair of cowboy boots - Every truck and barn he ever owned were painted red until the day he died.
As I sat with my bulging bags piled next to me at one of the slate tables on the patio of McDario (Dario Cecchini’s burger joint located conveniently next door to his macelleria), the noon Italian sun beat down on the black table where Dante, Zac, and I sat. My companions had joined me for my last meal before I was to head to Florence. We took in the namesake meal of the restaurant – the “McDario” - a very thick, burger patty cooked in beef tallow and served with a side of tallow fries. Even though this was the end of my time in Panzano, I wasn’t ready to head to the bus station. Not quite yet.
I grabbed a permanent marker from my bag and headed next door to the macelleria. When I saw a break in the action behind the counter, I seized the opportunity.
Dario, posso avere una firma?”
I asked as I held out my hat and the marker.
He exclaimed as he produced a giant red marker from inside his vest.
Of course Dario had a red marker. It’s his signature color that matches his ubiquitous pants, socks and plastic crocs that he wears every day, seven days a week! I have a feeling Dario and my grandfather would have gotten along quite well.
I showed him the section in my hat designated for his signature and away he went. When he returned it, I realized he had found a new place for his signature. Inside the crown of my hat,
"EAT MEAT Dario Cecchini"
was scrawled in red and ran all the way through “Panzano, Italy”, past “Lima, Peru” and most of Patagonia. I couldn’t have been happier. I even got him to sign my apron before we embraced and parted ways.
On a sidenote, I can’t begin to describe the incredible generosity and hospitality Dario Cecchini showed me throughout my stay. This man is the reason I became a butcher – a landmark in the butchery industry and a true inspiration to me. Working for him has been surreal. I am deeply honored to call him a mentor and a friend.