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Mario asked us if we wouldn’t perform a short set at his new mega-emporium in downtown Chicago, Eataly. Of course we would! In a nutshell, Eataly is Italy in edible form. You can eat and drink there to your heart’s delight at the many different counters, and then take your glass of wine with you as you ponder the overwhelming array of every product you’d ever need to recreate what you just ate at home. Posters on the wall educate customers on everything from the difference between arancini and supplí to Italy’s wine growing regions and the correct way to deep-fry.  It’s more than eating or shopping, it’s an experience akin to going to a fun interactive museum where you can touch (and eat) everything.

We set up our table of toy pianos and bongos this snowy President’s Day in front of the dizzying display of jarred olives. We had some circuit board glitches that required tweezers and an emergency tech support call with Tristan Perich, but we soon began our performance of qsqsqsqsqqqqqqqqq during the 1 o’clock lunch hour din without so much as an introduction. Some people looked confused, some looked amused, and some looked pretty annoyed that we were blocking access to the olives. Nick then played Cello Counterpoint, which drew some more interested onlookers, one of which even asked Kyle to move out of the way so he could see better. Lastly, Doug played Michael Gordon’s rhythmic braintease XY, which definitely got everyone’s attention, like it or not.

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After some applause and cheers, we scattered to the corners of the store in search of lunch. I had seen several plates of golden brown supplí pass me by during the performance, so I couldn’t leave without trying some. I paired the mozzarella-filled risotto spheres with a dry white wine that an attentive server suggested. Some headed downstairs for gelato, others the prepared foods aisle. By the time we loaded out, there was thunder and lightning in the midst of heavy snow. It was a long and scary drive back up Lake Shore Drive, but my happy belly was already planning my next trip to Eataly.

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