Sunday, April 11, 2010

Oh, Dear Gertrude…

I’ve started this week’s post four times now. The hardest part of all of this for me is the writing. Cooking and baking are most enjoyable, and transferring the recipes to my online Recipe Collection is just busy work. But the writing … always the writing.

The great Gertrude Stein once wrote:



is to


is to


is to



to write is to write is

to write is to write.”

Anyone who has ever written for a living knows the burden built into that seemingly simple and redundant statement. And it is exactly that burden that led me to give up writing more than a decade ago and move to copyediting for a living.

But many years have passed since that decision, and I again find myself with an audience full of excitement (thank you, all) and expectation. So here I am, draft #4, asking myself what this blog is all about. I want it to be about the food, but the reality is, it’s about the memories and feelings the recipes invoke.

I had a really wonderful weekend. On Friday night, I gathered at the local bar with a bunch of friends from high school for what turned out to be an incredibly fun night. Some of these people I hadn’t seen in 28 years. We talked and we hugged and we laughed and we ate and we drank … and I realized how good so many of these people were then and still are today. I sometimes bad-mouth my small hometown, just because I am an adventurer at heart who still lives where she grew up. But in reality, it is a good town, full of good people. And Friday was a treat. Thank you to each of my friends there – old and new – for the warmth in my heart when I left our gathering.

On Saturday night, my husband and I invited our website guru extraordinaire/friend to dinner with his family. It was a special little treat to thank him for his work on the Mangia, Figlie page design. My, how their children have grown since we’d seen them last! It had been so long!

We had a lovely evening, and I think they liked the food – which consisted of spaghetti with braciole cooked in tomato sauce, a spinach/arugula salad with Italian dressing, a fresh round loaf from my favorite local Italian bread store, and for dessert, my mom’s infamous Wilson Chocolate Cake, topped with a classic butter icing.

mosaic06ce0455238c54043fc10b1ca20493e5557e55a8 Click here to view and print my mom’s recipe for braciole.

But what struck me most when their visit was over was how comfortable the whole evening was. I know you know what I’m talking about. That friend you haven’t seen for 10 years walks in the front door and you feel like it was only yesterday that you were P4100006together. These are those kind of people. And the fact that I could put a nice meal on our table for them and keep the kids up past their bedtimes because we just didn’t want the evening to end … well that was the true butter icing on the chocolate cake, and on my weekend.

Click here to view and print
my mom’s recipe for Wilson Chocolate Cake.

Food has always been about more than just ingredients to me. It’s about the tastes and the textures and the feelings and my family … and it’s put on the table to celebrate small events, major milestones, and gatherings of good friends.

I can envision the spread of food my brother created for my wedding shower, as well as the spaghetti dinner my mother made at my childhood home for my college friends when we were all seniors. I vividly remember the conversation when I was maybe 10 years old about whether my mother did in fact make Easter bread every year or not.

I remember the many years we sat around the table after Thanksgiving dinner, just talking and cracking open walnuts and eating them, broken shells neatly in piles in front of each of us. And I remember the demitasse cups coming out, the anisette bottle on the table, little strips of lemon rind on a plate, all for that after-dinner shot of dark Italian coffee.

Yes, food is a comfort for me, far beyond its nutritional value. It feeds my soul daily, whether it is sharing old recipes with old friends or trying new recipes with my kids, who recognize that Mommy is happiest while chopping up veggies in the kitchen and who so lovingly want to be a part of that. Dio, io li amo!

Oh, dear Gertrude, you were so right: “to write is to write is to write is to write.” But to write about how food continues to touch my life … where do I sign up?

Braciole Calabrese on Foodista


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wonderful post, Maria! I like the new look to your blog.

Sorry I haven't been by in a week...lots going on and very little computer time.

Allie and Pattie said...

I agree! being new to the blog thing, writing is sometimes difficult for me- but food and memories never are
xoxo Pattie

stephanie said...

That was beautiful Maria! Well done!!

Beth said...

A pleasure to visit your blog, as always!

Wendy said...

Yeah!! I love your pictures! Very well written, as always! You'll have to share where your favorite Italian bread place is!!

Wayne said...

Dinner was great! We had a great time, let's do it again soon. Fire's at our place this time.

BTW, Renee's a little annoyed because now I'm insisting she call me "website guru extraordinaire". Just need to get new business cards... ;)

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy how you write, is to write, is to write...keep up the good work...Linda B