Sunday, January 31, 2016

Noodles in Negrar Pour Un Homme Brûlant

We live in multi-planar worlds. There is wine. And there is food. Just as there is work. And there is avocation. And while it seems we live in our little protected bubbles, is it really as we imagine? Or are we simply a small fraction of a larger arrangement?

This week, driving in a van with seven other souls, we are driving up the road from Negrar, towards Torbe. I’m talking with a dear friend and start to sense we are arriving to a place not strange to me. I’ve been here before, recognize the tower and the street and the sign, which simply says, TRATTORIA. Oh joy.

Inside we are early. Led into a back room which is cold, I find my way to a seat which will allow me easy access out. A chatty woman is seated next to me. I brace myself; the first time I heard her speaking in a loud, out of breath style, it felt like fingernails on the chalkboard inside my skull. I would need something stronger than Amarone to keep myself calm amidst this storm of her life, which spilled over into my place setting as soon as she sat down. Poor soul, she’s drifting through life and she’s not so young and cannot get away with things like she used to be able to 30 years ago. I felt my inner Etna stirring, and clamped down on any orifice that might emit fire, my mouth being the main caldera of concern.

And then it appeared. A simple bowl of homemade tagliatelle with ragù. The ribbons of pasta reminded me of my nonna and my mom. My nonna, who used a well-worn broomstick to make her perfect noodles. And my mom, who’d get a call in the afternoon from my dad, telling her he was bringing home a famous movie star, a director, a casting agent, or a producer. “Get the noodles ready, Elissa,” he’d bark over the land line. And so she would go about being the good wife. And we would be recipients of her benefaction.

So here I was, 7, 10, 14 years old again? At a table. The pasta was erasing the nail scratches on my inner skull. And then she spoke, again, so fast she couldn’t even hear herself listen, talk or think. Etna erupted and I stood up with a phone to my ear, so as to excise myself from this torrent of squabble.

Walking into the next room, I saw golden ribbons of sunlight, lying flat on the wooden tables with a sheet of linen between them, as if to protect them from the harshness of the wood. There they were, sunning and drying themselves. So beautiful. So delicate. So delicious.

This is a place a friend of mine below in the valley would come with her mother and her father. It was my third time. After coming to Italy for many years (my 50th time) the noodles calmed me and soothed me like my nonna used to. And like my dear mom, who is not so young anymore, but who is still waking up everyday to face the challenges of life. As are we all, those who are still here.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W


Unknown said...

Anchio, Hank

Kevin Owens said...

Has to be Trattoria Caprini!

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