The kitchen wishes for a long rustic table of family and friends, arriving with kisses and laughter, and voices rising with the steam from the pot. The snow is too high and treacherous today, so just an intimate dinner in our quiet abode for two. The cats rest warmly on the sofa as a book can hardly be put down.
I suppose my husband enjoys when I read memoirs set in particular places, for that week he will eat very well indeed. This week we are in Italy. I love studying languages. They give one a better understanding of time and place. Of others. I love the foods and nuances, wild lettuces and local wines, spices and oils, and similarities between cultures that intertwine and separate to create in singular persona delicious meals set for memories and life.
Marlena De Blasi invites us into the Tuscan kitchens of her hosts in Antonia and her Daughters and I am called to my own kitchen. The walls a warming cinnamon red with post war the second cupboards and tile floors. I dream of what the kitchen could look like. What it could become. The long wooden table holding guests clinking glasses and speaking over the din of plates being cleared for new courses. Yes, and music playing.
I pour in a heavy hand of olive oil as they do, watching it shimmer in my cast iron pot. Over medium heat I add a quarter red onion and smashed savory garlic cloves, three, and a chopped carrot and a few celery too. The quintessential soffritto, the base for all things good. As the vegetables sauté and I add perfect tablespoons measured in hand of rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, bay, paprika. Pour a cup or so of red wine over and a scant three quarters of a cup eyed of white beans. I add three frozen tomatoes from last year’s garden and a few cups of water. In a few hours it will be ready to pour into bowls and dip into with fresh bread. I will add in salt and pepper and bit of kale.
The fragrance fills the kitchen air as the sound of cars slush by. Tomorrow we will access tree damage and clean up under the warming sun of spring, but today locked away in our winter kingdom, we have books, wine, cats, and beans simmering on the stove.