Feeding the Massa's...
Play on word there in the title. Massa is 1/3rd of You’s three part last name. The other two I cannot divulge. Strict Contractural Limitations, you see.
The Massa’s came to il Poggiolo for their family’s annual Summer Sweat & Eat Festa. I pleaded with You, the Master Organizer of the affair, to reschedule the meet as far away as possible from Our Current Heat. Alas... No way! They’ve already been invited for the 6th… came his reply. Nothing else for me to do but hunker down and…
clip the hedges… bushwhack where the lawn mower don’t go… trim and clean the rest of the garden… extricate The Dog’s bio-donations with a special shovel… cover the Fish Pond with caning, so the goldfish will stop succumbing to the reverberations of Our Great Heat… mow the lawn with the newly reconditioned lawn mower… make regular runs to the kiosk by Codiponte’s cemetery to fill IKEA glass bottles with fizzy mineral water then, lug them up our many stepped ramps to distribute them into the three frig’s here at il Poggiolo… devise a Summer Time Menu…. do the grocery shopping for said menu, which too will entail lugging seven or eight heavy plastic bags full of food & drink up our many stepped ramps… send the stuff, mostly My Stuff I was informed, occupying space on the table and chairs at la Casa Grande’s sala da pranzo to new and/or old homes elsewhere at il Poggiolo… and cook afternoons & evenings until The Big Day.
All was done. White wine and breathing meditations helped. Oh, and the night before, cooking & preparing from 2AM to 5AM! Then, back to bed for what remained of getting some sleep that night.
Unlike the Americans, who live in their artificial air-conditioned worlds and are immune to the rigors of The Seasons, the Italians acclimate themselves automatically to them. Little AC around. Instead, what I had busted my butt and cranked out of the tiny yellow kitchen of la Casa Grande, My Summer HQ, was a menu unfortunately geared to that other reality across the ocean. Hard to break old habits? Can’t say. Headstrong in times of stress. I should’ve known better. Cannot figure what came over me. Panic. Rallied with late additions… all’Italiana… saved me from witnessing A Total Disaster.
How about a few highlights of My Summer Time Menu?…
a stunningly delicious veal-loaf with a spicy hot glazing… a chicken salad with apples… a classic coleslaw. Like, how can you have a meal without coleslaw? Especially in the Summer? So important too for the lower sectors of the digestive tract… a cold cucumber salad with sauteed sausages, olives & yogurt… a lovely cold pasta salad with pomodori, feta cheese, onions, olives, basillico and stewed aglio… and, You’s contribution, which also should have been A Wake-up Call to de-Americanized My Summer Time Menu of a potato and tuna fish mould smeared with mayonnaise and decorated with olives and peppers doused in accetto.
And that was what the Massa’s ate.
Other items which appealed to their Italian Summer Dietary Likes were those late morning-of additions of cantaloupe melons with prosciutto di Parma, a salad of pomodori, mozzarella di bufala and fresh basillico and the previously wise choice… on my part, inspiration at the grocery store… of an array of fresh raspberries & blueberries served with gelato di panna.
The Massa’s touched nothing else.
The Massa Family, representing the Italians, ate sparingly, with much thanks to the number of degrees on the Centigrade Scale. They only touched what was readily identifiable, i.e. cantaloupe melons & prosciutto which, typically, they assaulted and devoured in a matter of minutes. Italians are keen for fruit between the Summer months of June to September. It is the country’s national dieta estiva. And, if you happen to serve qualsiasi pietanze estranea, i.e. chicken salad with apples, you had better send advanced notice via emails to all concerned. Otherwise, at the buffet table, you will hear conversations such as… Che cos’e’ questo? No lo so. Mi pare strano… sending the other participants to hunt for something on the table more suited to their Italian dietary Customs & Traditions. Worse than cats.
The most important Lesson Learned was the reconfirmation of a key point about Italian Life… It’s not the food… dummy… but, the company. Food’s the excuse to bring family & friends together. I will strive to keep this in mind for next year’s do. In the meantime… I must get over the offense taken that The Dogs…. born and raised in Italy… did not touch my cold pasta salad either. In cahoots with their Italian brethren? Could be.