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Nobody asked me, but: Rodricks on saving the rockfish and the Preakness, plus Gino and the Julia Child of Italy

Italian chef and author Giuliano Bugialli rolls out ultra-thin pasta on WMAR-TV in the 1990s. He insisted that lasagna have 12 layers.
Italian chef and author Giuliano Bugialli rolls out ultra-thin pasta on WMAR-TV in the 1990s. He insisted that lasagna have 12 layers. (Dara Bunjon)

Nobody asked me but, if we want to lower the mortality of Chesapeake Bay rockfish, then recreational anglers could just stop fishing for them for a year and catch and eat invasive catfish and snakehead instead. There’s plenty of them in the bay’s tributaries, and blue cats are big. I’ve heard of one being caught with two snakeheads in its belly. Imagine hooking a blue cat just after it’s gobbled up a couple Frankenfish — that would be an angler’s trifecta. Plus, you’d be helping the bay by harvesting invasives, and you could have a fish fry for the whole neighborhood.

Here’s another idea: Ban bait. Allowing Marylanders to fish for stripers with baited hooks, even less-damaging “circle hooks,” while requiring them to release fish too small to keep, causes too much harm to the fishery. Stripers generally swallow baited hooks, damaging their innards, often fatally, while artificial baits — lures and flies — usually only cause a small wound to the hard mouth of the hearty rockfish. It’s not a total fix, but part of one.

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Nobody asked me, but posts that begin with the words “to the person who” are one of the small pleasures of social media. I doubt they reach their targets much, but they can be nonetheless cathartic for the writer and satisfying for the rest of us. Here’s one from a local social network, apparently written by a resident of the Stoneleigh area: “To the person [who drove] the grey Accord heading east on Regester Avenue this morning at 8:39: Double yellow lines mean do not pass. Also, school zone means kids likely present. Doubly so at 8:40. Also, speed limit of 25 mph means 45 is probably too fast. But hey, kudos to you on the ‘Save The Bay’ license plate. That counts for something.”

Nobody asked me, but I agree with Gov. Larry Hogan that Mayor Catherine Pugh should resign. However, if the Maryland governor is troubled by alleged corruption in public life and thinks Pugh “unfit to lead,” maybe he should call on Donald J. Trump to resign. Why limit the call for honest government to City Hall?

Nobody asked me, but nobody’s going to beat James Holzhauer on “Jeopardy.” Tune in a year from now, and he’ll still be on the show. Wanna bet?

Nobody asked me, but the political and legal battle over the Preakness — whether it stays in Baltimore, whether Pimlico Race Course survives in some new form — presents a perfect opportunity for Hogan to use his business acumen to arrive at some arrangement that makes almost everyone happy. It’s a big challenge, in light of the hard line taken by the track’s owners. But, before becoming governor, Hogan had loads of experience in brokering deals. The company he founded has pulled off $2 billion in real estate transactions “by bringing sellers and buyers together to create win-win scenarios,” according to its website. So Hogan should be the deal maker. And a good deal would preserve a tradition, modernize Pimlico for wider public use (with a short May racing meet culminating in the Preakness), ignite redevelopment in Park Heights and give Hogan a big win to cap off his years in Annapolis.

Marchetti and Bugialli

Before I finish today’s column, I send condolences to the family of Gino Marchetti, the old warrior from the Baltimore Colts who, on top of his Hall of Fame football career, was known best around Baltimore for Gino’s hamburgers — “Everybody goes to Gino’s ‘cause Gino’s is the place to go” — and the Gino Giant, a double-decker burger.

And while on the subject of condolences and food and men of Italian ancestry whose first names began with G, a word about Giuliano Bugialli, the Julia Child of Italy. He was a chronicler and practitioner of authentic Italian cooking, and the author of superb books. Though he had lived and worked in the United States for many years, he moved back to Italy a couple of years ago. He died there last week at age 88.

Bugialli came to Baltimore at least three times. In 1995, I heard him give a lecture about pasta. He did not give cooking tips, he gave orders: When cooking pasta, always start with cold water because hot water from a pipe gives pasta a sour taste. Do not add salt until the water reaches a boil, and never add oil. "If you add oil,” he said, "the pasta will be coated with it and there is no way the sauce can be absorbed by the pasta."

When cooking sheets of lasagna, remove each from the boiling water with a skimmer, dip them in ice water, then rest them on damp towels until you're ready to assemble the casserole. And then Bugialli said this: "Lasagna must have 12 layers.”

When I first reported this, it shocked a lot of readers. Twelve layers? How can this be? On his next visit, Bugialli appeared on my weekly show on WMAR, and he demonstrated, on live television, how you get 12 layers of pasta in a lasagna. He rolled out his dough by hand, like a magician pulling endless scarves from a hat. It took three of us, including food writer and consultant Dara Bunjon, to handle it. The pasta was probably six inches wide, as thin as paper and 22 feet long when Bugialli finished, and the studio audience broke into applause and cheers.

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