ASPARAGUS AS YOU LIKE IT. My counterpart to Gopnik’s story is set in a trattoria in Turin where we and the waiters had arrived at ordering our meal in French as the most suitable approximation to a common language. I wanted asparagus and, in lieu of the French word essayed the words on the menu: “asparagi per piacere”. Confusion. I kept pointing to the menu and trying to repeat the words.

You may have worked out that I was ordering asparagus “as you would like it prepared”.

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