uricchios herb

A favorite at Uricchio's in downtown Bakersfield is the penne alla Nina made with penne with italian sausage, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. The restaurant reopens for takeout Tuesday.

Claire called but she wasn’t looking for a media shoutout because that’s not Claire. To the contrary, I may take myself out of the running for a warm basket of herb bread by mentioning that Claire Porter's restaurant, Uricchio’s, is, as already reported by The Californian, reopening for takeout Tuesday.

Claire will probably be swamped with business, which may have been why she was slow-playing this because takeout is not easy.

I mention her reopening because I am one of many in town who admire the hardy souls who own restaurants: Uricchio’s, Luigi’s, Jake’s, Arizona Cafe, Los Tacos De Huicho, Wool Growers, La Costa, Cope's Knotty Pine Cafe, Pyrenees Cafe and about a million more.

We appreciate you because we, Bakersfield, love to eat. We can eat with anybody.


Recently, I walked into the backyard, which was fairly dark besides the crescent moon. “Fairly” but not completely because I had solar lights scattered underneath the olive trees, the lilac tree, the rosemary, the honeysuckle and they were spotlighting what should have been spotlit.

Remember when solar lights were a novelty? Kind of an electrical circus act. They worked, they didn’t work, you couldn’t count on them.

Before solar lights, there weren’t many choices with inexpensive outdoor lighting unless you wanted to stand outside with a flashlight and turn it on every time somebody went by.

The prospect of lighting your yard, flowerbeds and trees was daunting. You had to be rich, you’d have outdoor outlets and you had to enter the terrifying domain of landscape architecture.

Five years ago, I may have spent $60 on those solar lights, the kind that have the spike that goes in the ground, the solar panel and the light. For $200, you could stage a Hollywood opening.

Solar lights have gotten cheaper. You can buy them at Lowe’s, Home Depot or Dollar Tree.

What makes me happy, in addition to their dirt-cheapness, is you don’t have to plug them in. Aren’t we weary of plugging things in? We’re always running out of juice, we’re two bars from being out of business. We’re plugged into the wall and we’ve hit the wall.

This reminds me of a passage from Paul Valery’s “Man and the Night,” and not because solar lights and Valery had anything in common except both light our paths but because I’ve always wanted to slip a little Valery into a column:

“The darkness that surrounds us completely bares our soul. Since what we see in the sky and what we find in the depths of our hearts are both equally removed from our actions, with the one shining far above our undertakings and the other existing far beneath our expressions.”

I recommend both Valery and solar lights.


The L.A. Times had a good piece on Saturday about the habits people hope to keep after COVID-19 passes. The answers were harvested on Instagram:

“Living a slower paced life.”

“Consistently getting a full nine hours' sleep. It’s so refreshing."

“Maintaining my goal of completing five small tasks a day.” — Travis Stock-Tucker, 32, Long Beach

“Finding a job that allows me to work from home.” — Yumi, 23, Los Angeles

“Gratitude. I didn’t realize what I had until I lost the freedom to do it all.” — Laura Renteria, 39, Pico Rivera.

There are things we will miss. Who would have predicted it?


A couple of days ago, I finished reading “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, the novel about the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. It ends like this:

“I smile at them, my two boys who should have broken me, but somehow saved me, each in his own way. Because of them, I know now what matters, and it is not what I have lost. It is my memories. Wounds heal. Love lasts.

"We remain.”

We remain and so do the masses of clothes we’re throwing out. I wondered if the Salvation Army was even accepting donations so instead of continuing to wonder, I called the Salvation Army. Although the stores are closed, they are accepting donations. When they reopen, the stores will be loaded.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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