I was just scolded kindly by my Russian friend Nastya for eating a sandwich while we walked to the library. I explained that I don't seem to have time to sit down and just EAT, and she told me that it was bad for my stomach. It reminded me of living in Italy, where people constantly chided us for eating on the run, whether it was a slice of piping hot pizza or a fresh calzone or an impromptu sandwich of prosciutto and formaggio on a bun from the market. Italians couldn't understand our rush to get to appointments.
I do miss the eating culture of Italy. I love that offices and schools and stores close for two hours during pranzo, and that this becomes a sort of sacred time for family and friends to gather and eat. It's not just eating really great food, though. It's partaking of each other's company and time--of being together. It's sitting through several courses and talking and laughing and singing together.
I have so many memories--drunk Italians singing "So This is Christmas," the only English song they knew to sing to two young Americans in Sicily on Christmas day. Or the time we peeked into the kitchen before dinner and saw a live octopus in a tub of water, caught just an hour before. I think we escaped before being tortured. Or the evening with Mario's family--this huge family living out in the country, with all kinds of food and my first try of calamari and laughing and people. Or what about the Gerentano family and the basketball size bowl of spaghetti that made me cry when we left--although hearing their 2-year-old sing along to Pavaroti on TV to perfect pitch certainly made me laugh. Or eating pears and cheese after Sunday dinner on the patio overlooking the mountains of Cosenza. So many great memories...
On Sunday we had a lovely evening. We grilled shishkebabs and ate out on the patio--coconut rice, homemade bread, and salad with gorgonzola cheese, pears, and craisins. We sat out there with the citronella candle burning and talked and laughed for quite a while. I loved being with my friends--enjoying their company, listening to their perspectives, and feeling a part of something. It was a beautiful tender mercy.