Cardona, May 30, 2015—HOW TO DESCRIBE our dining on this very special day, one of the most beautiful and emotional days of my life?
For years I've wanted to get my extra-American friends together, to get to know one another, and (I must admit it) to enjoy seeing the interactions that might develop among them. The story begins a little over a century ago, when Lindsey's father, ten years old, immigrated from Italy.
It resumes thirty-five years ago, when our oldest daughter spent a year abroad with a Dutch family. When we visited at the end of that year we discovered her Dutch parents, a few years older than us and quite different in background and tastes, were our semblables, people whose hearts had an uncanny resonance with ours, and we have been the best of friends, really brothers and sisters, ever since.
Then a succession of foreign students came to our house in Berkeley — a Swedish girl for only three weeks, to polish her English; a Brazilian boy for six months, to sigh for his tropics; a French girl for a year, to escape small-town Provence I suppose. They became our own children, we their own parents. I can't explain our luck in finding such big-hearted, generous, tolerant, and fascinating teen-agers.
Our youngest daughter married a Czech immigrant, and their children have traveled and built their own international relations. I'm not sure how many languages are spoken by our children and grandchildren; more than I'm bothering to think of at the moment — for this is, after all, not a biographical website, but an account of Eating (mostly) Every Day.
I decided Lindsey's birthday was a suitable occasion for getting as many friends and family together as possible, and ended with twenty-six altogether — Italian, Dutch, French, Swedish, and Brazilian, along with a sprinkling of our extended American family who happened to be in the area. I found rooms for everyone nearby, and we met in various configurations throughout the morning, and by two o'clock some had gone off on independent expeditions related, I'm sure, to lunch.
The rest of us — ten, supplemented by two who arrived late and had to be content with a separate table — drove to a restaurant in a nearby village, a place we've liked before, and sat down to a light lunch: a series of five or six antipasti, like Russian salad, insalata da gallo, vitello tonnato, this carpaccio, very nice peperoni filled with tuna sauce, and I don't recall what else; then a big mixed salad, just lettuce leaves and tomatoes.
After lunch I mentioned to our waiter that we'd had a memorable conversation with his mother last time we were here — she was then the cook, and the second generation to own and run this place, and was by no means a young woman. "She died seven years ago," he said, with a moist eye. Passono gli anni, I said; the years go by. Increasingly quickly.
Dinner — but that will have to wait for another post…
Cortona bianco; Grignolino•Ristorante Da Maria, via Roma 131, Zanco di Villadeati (AL); +39 0141902035
☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants