Beck released a new album last month entitled "Morning Phase." The music is mature and satisfying. His voice is layered and soothing and reminiscent of that certain phase of rest where one is not quite asleep, nor quite part of this earthly realm. Sauntering along the bouncing tightrope of consciousness about to float off into a slow-motion backward spin of cloud-filled oblivion...
...which reminds me of when I had the fond experience of meeting him while hurtling through space in a shiny metal tube. If you know me, you will probably know what comes next.
I was in my early twenties and working as a flight attendant for a major airline. This was an occupation that would come to shape much of the way I view the world, with the stories to match. On this particular night, I found myself hosting a hundred or so amiable guests making their way on the red-eye of quintessence: Los Angeles to New York. Okay, it was Newark, but nonetheless, we were getting them there. I was happily toiling in the aft galley, where I had set up the beverage cart and heated up the now extinct "hot meal" for our captives. This night's fare consisted of vegetable lasagna and its accoutrements. I was delighted it wasn't chicken or beef, which opened up a whole messy host of questions, including my favorite: "How is the chicken prepared?" to which I always choked back a smug "In a large vat with a lot of other chickens..." in response. I was waiting for my partner in crime to come to the back and help me muscle the awkward beast out into the aisle when the lead flight attendant called me on the interphone.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Hey, listen...there is a guy up here in First. He says his name is Beck and the name of his band is "Beck?" Do you know this band?
"Yeah, of course I do. You don't?"
"Anyway, the guy just spilled his drink all over himself and wants to know if we can dry his pants."
"Sure. Bring them back!"
The lead flight attendant, being male and straight, always made me a little suspicious. If the fact that he was male, straight and a flight attendant wasn’t enough to deem his intentions questionable, he rang the bell with his hobby: Magic. While the rest of us were hurriedly trying to get our fresh herd of cats to take their seats and stow their kitchen sinks, he would loiter in the last two rows, leaning over and pulling a sheer, red scarf out of his closed fist to the mild amazement of three ladies from Pasadena.
Much to my surprise, I looked up to see our Siegfried strolling through the cabin while cradling a tiny pair of jeans. He handed them over to me and explained that Mr. Hansen would have to appear on MTV in a few hours and has neglected to pack a change of clothes. Seems about right, I thought. But wait.
“If he doesn’t have a change of clothes, then what is he wearing?”
“Blanket. I thought maybe you could put them in the oven. “
So that’s what I did. Midnite Vultures was currently nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year and I just put the artist’s “trou” into a convection oven filled with pedestrian lasagna.
We went about our service as normal, filling the cart with lasagna from the non-pants-bearing oven until every soul on board was sated with the savory, thick béchamel-coated goodness and could slam their seats back into each other's knees and rest easy for the remainder of their journey.
I anxiously returned to the galley and opened the oven door, pulled out the jeans for inspection while allowing a few lava-hot coins to fall from the wee little pockets and roll under the carts, never to be seen or heard from again. I gave a quick sniff…ahh…lasagna pants…and returned them to their owner unscathed. Beck was grateful to be clothed again, and thanked me for my efforts, commenting on the “fresh from the dryer” feeling. It was my pleasure.
A few days later, I was on a flight to West Palm Beach, when a man seated near the exit row rang his call button. I floated down the aisle, fingertips of one hand gliding along the overhead bins, to the middle of the cabin.
“I seemed to have spilled my drink on myself. Do you have any way to dry my pants?”
I looked down. He was holding his pants and wearing nothing but his shorts.
Yeah, I got this.
Here is my version of veggie lasagne. It consists of fresh spinach pasta with alternating layers of basil pesto and flavorful béchamel. Garnish with Pecorino Romano, quality extra-virgin olive oil and toasted pine nuts. I served it with ricotta mixed with a hint of lemon zest, on the side.
I hope you enjoy making your own version of Lasagne ai Pantaloni. Buon Appetito!