My hostess Federica, has arranged a dinner party with her neighbours this evening, and has asked me to help her in the preparations. Renting at Residenza del Palmerino, from Federica & Stefano, has opened countless doors in what could have been a non-existent social life. This is the third dinner in as many weeks. Federica, like many Italians, has an innate talent in the kitchen. I’m anxious to learn some of her best kept secrets.
I’ve had exclusive access to the ground-floor of the house, as I’m the sole guest for the past few weeks. This is an uncommon occurrence for this popular Residenza. I appreciate the intimacy of living with this special family. Stefano, Federica, and son Leonardo treat me with the utmost of respect. They give me privacy when required, yet welcome me into their family-fold whenever possible.
My first task this evening is setting the table in the Salone, also known as the Dining Room. I take the liberty of chosing colourful leaves, and winter flowers, from Federica’s garden, adding a touch of life and charm to the table. Once set, I have the pleasure of assisting in the preparations of an authentic Italian feast. Federica’s kitchen is small, (Hobbit’s have larger kitchens than this one), I’m amazed how she produces such spectacular meals in such a confined space. It never phases her, nor does she long for more room, it has everything she requires, and in turn is a cozy, welcoming place, to pull up a chair, and observe her while she works her magic.
She pours me a glass of wine, made from grapes grown on her property, and we begin a frenzied hour of chopping, stirring, and baking. This gifted woman is an artist in the kitchen, and as if in a well choreographed dance, she glides around the room. I naively imagined I’d be following a step by step recipe, preparing food I’m conditioned to think of as Italian. The only ingredient familiar to me is the eggs, except they are double in size, rusty-brown in colour, and are still warm, as I hold them in the center of my palm. These masterpieces of nature were laid only a few hours earlier.
I guess it would be a good time for me to forgive the rooster who wakes me every morning, as he proudly announces the arrival of each and every egg.
These brown beauties will form the foundation, of the appetizing frittata we are designing from ingredients found in Federica’s well stocked fridge. Holding these gems in my hand, I recall myself as a young child, visiting my Aunt and Uncle’s farm near Sylvan Lake, Alberta. I would fearfully enter the hen-house, reluctantly snatch eggs from the nests of unsuspecting, and what I would to refer to as “the evil” hens. Fortunately, I’ve been spared the task of collecting them today. I confess, I would be equally apprehensive, even at my age, to slip an unprotected hand, under the feathered ass, of the unhappy bird who had to lay, then relinquish, these massive ovals.
The guests arrive, bringing additional international cuisine, and this multi-cultural party is instantly underway, commencing with chilled prosecco and thought provoking conversation. Closest to me, sits Monica, an Egyptian with a PhD in Art History. Peter, a professional dancer, business owner, and aspiring poet from London. Gyorgyi, a PhD student, and healer from Hungary. Laura, a Florentine business woman, and artist from Amsterdam, and ME!! (I seriously need to invent an engaging alter-ego). They graciously include me in spirited conversation, and welcome me into their micro-community. A random mix of Italian and English is spoken, I feel a rush of excitement as Peter and Monica suggest I join a writers group they are forming.
All-too-soon, goodbyes are being exchanged, plans for Sunday walks, and future dinners are arranged, they graciously extend invites to me. Afterwards, I collapse exhausted yet exhilarated into bed, my head spinning with thoughts of writing compelling stories that people would actually read. Is it possible I can compose to the standard of these accomplished writers? I willingly surrender to sleep, and dream of run-on sentences, diphthongs, adjectives, prepositions and an enormous egg, with green legs, chasing me down the uneven streets of Florence!!
…… It’s a dream people. Were you expecting it to be logical??
On a side note – something interesting happened to me this weekend– a woman included me in her blog… Angela B. Dillon – follow her inspiring journey. It’s well worth the read…. www.somethingmore365.blogspot.com