Second Stop: Florence, Italy
The way that meals are prepared in Italy is something I've always tried to replicate here in the states. It starts with gathering the ingredients - not a simple run to the grocery store. You first stop at the latteria, followed by the macelleria, and so on, picking up item by item. You buy freshly baked breads and hand-rolled gnocci, sample cheeses and talk with shop owners.
Once everything is home it's a long evening spent in the kitchen. You're preparing a gala of at least three courses rather than just one dish. Foods spend hours in the oven, and finally at around 8:30 pm you all sit down to enjoy the feast. Those who weren't in the kitchen, probably sat and munched on appetizers of parmigiana and salami, just waiting to eat.
I don't know if my family wanted to break him in, or they were seriously interested to taste his cooking, but on our visit, Adam was put up to the challenge of creating a full Italian meal. A simple request to cook dinner turned into a meal for twelve. To prepare, I took him to the center market and all of the little shops to get ingredients. We planned as we went, and I sheepishly told him how it was going to go.
Back in the kitchen, we took our usual teamwork to the big leagues. I played sous chef, chopping and slicing, while he worked his magic: gnocci in a spinach & tomato cream sauce, swordfish with a lemon butter reduction, and a beautiful fall vegetable mash up.
For me, the whole evening recalled memories of my childhood. I remember looking up at my grandmother, she in her fur coat and me holding my her hand, as the butcher fawned over me and how much I had grown. But this time I was holding his hand instead, and I guess you could say I was little more secure in my size. I remember asking my grandmother, who I adored, what I could help with next as she worked on dinner. Sometimes I was set to grinding the parmigiana and other times I would layer tiramisu. Maybe I got a knife this time, but I fit right back into my old role as the little helper, Adam taking the lead.
Being in that kitchen, bringing him into that world, was something else. Not only do I love that kitchen and the Italian culture surrounding food, but it's also a big part of me. I was letting him into a magical world. One that before had been my own little secret.