A Dozen Bitches and a Band-Aid

Posted on May 17, 2011

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Dear Potato Omelette,

I am unsure the name of this dish but nana was furiously mashing boiled potatoes in a bowl that was too small. She sent me to the store to buy 6 eggs (not 4! 6!) and I wondered what she was making along with her sugo and boiling pasta. Eggs are so cheap here in Italy it is crazy. 95 cents gets you 6 fresh eggs. I ran down the stairs and then walked slowly to the store, taking my time, realizing that this will probably be my last outing today. Both the boys stayed home from school since Tommaso had another ear ache. I feel so lucky that nana is there to take care of us all! When she comes to help out with the boys I feel like she is looking out for me as well. She cooks for us and keeps us smiling all day. As I was walking back from the store with my half a dozen eggs I laughed out loud when I recapped my conversation with my sister Zena the night before. I was about to shut down my computer and I was feeling sad and alone. She called me and I picked up right away! She seems to know or feel when I “don’t” want to talk about stuff that is hard or when I am feeling low. Twice now she has called me in those exact moments where once I start saying how I feel out loud the tears come full force; uninvited! Once I let it all out she made me feel better and the conversation gradually changed to her chickens. Yes, my sister has chickens in the middle of Reno! I think it is the coolest thing that not only she has “a dozen bitches” (her words not mine! So great it deserved to be shared!)  in her backyard but she still hangs her clothes out to dry in her yard as well. I have become thoroughly interested in her chickens and hearing stories of their names and hearing about them age and change is fascinating. Another good perk of these chick-chicks is that she sells their eggs! She always is surprising me with her smart wits and ways. $5 for half a dozen! She shared that one of her buyers complimented her eggs saying that they were the BEST he had ever had! His aunt runs a huge farm and hers didn’t even compare. I can’t wait to have some of these famous eggs and visit her “dozen bitches!”

I gave nana the 6 eggs and Matteo helped her to crack 2 eggs and blend them with some cheese. After I helped mash the potatoes more she dumped the egg mixture right into the tiny bowl and told me to mix it together. Matteo yelled that he wanted to do it so together we held the fork and incorporated the mix. Potato frittata? Italian Latkes? Potato pancake? What on Earth was this massive yellow glob going to become when it grew up? She told me to take the pasta off and add the sauce while she oiled a large 14 inch pan for frying fish. She layered the mixture in after it warmed with olive oil and then she waited for it to cook. I served the boys their pasta and sat at the table while nana somehow managed so flip this gigantic fluffy potato mix. She served the entire thing on a huge platter, uncut and steaming. It looked better than it tasted. I am not really into potatoes so maybe that is why it wasn’t my favorite. The boys enjoyed it and Tommaso had a second piece from the potato pie. I keep changing the name but I truly don’t know the name of the dish. She told me “frittata” but I am sure she just called it an omlelette” in Italian since she knew that it consisted of eggs and I would understand. Perhaps. I will ask T what the dish is called or if nana just made it up.

After lunch I became tired and went to my room to rest while the boys finished watching Narnia with their heads together at the table staring at the 9 inch screen. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew Matteo was over my bed telling me it was time to take him for some gelato. “dobbiamo…dobbiamo…prendere il gelato….!” he mumbles slowly so I can understand. I think that he truly speaks slower just for me which I love! (We MUST take some gelato) “Fragole…strawberry! poi…pistachio!” He tells me what he would like. Va bene! Bravisimo! I tell him as I put on my shoes and together we carried his scooter down the stairs and were out on the street. Before we left T was trying to tell me where to go for gelato near the house but I had NO CLUE what she was talking about. I know our street pretty well and I personally only like one place for gelato: Vice. It is still my absolute favorite place and so once we walked the wrong way looking for a gelateria I had him cross the street with me and we headed towards the place I knew. He insisted that I ride his tiny scooter when he grew tired so I agreed with pleasure. I am, after all, just a big kid at heart! I want to ride it but if he doesn’t offer there is no way in Hell I can get near it unless I am carrying down or up the stairs. We chanted “gelateria” over and over again until we found the shop. Awww Vice my secret lover. I have only had this gelato, counting today, 4 times but it is pure heaven and I must start paying more attention to it since it is now warmer weather. He ordered his fragole e pistachio and I had vanilla and pistachio. I can admit that pistachio is my favorite flavor. More than hazelnut. More than Nutella. More than hazelnut with Nutella! Together we shared a bench while I handed him or wiped his nose and face after each bite or lick. I ate mine with a spoon and took his single whipped cream (panna) offering from his spoon This kid doesn’t like food on his face but ice cream doesn’t bother him one bit! Up his nose and all over his mouth he had a green and red goatee with a white-tipped nose. I wish I had my camera! I let him eat sloppily and wiped his dripping cone and tried to tell him to hurry up and eat it faster. He wanted to walk and eat so after I finished my serving he let me ride the scooter again while he finished his cone. I let him play outside a little longer near the garage behind the house that is a wide open tiled area. He would pretend to fall really hard onto the dirty ground and I would not laugh and tell him the ground is TOO DIRTY!! (sporco!!) Then he asked me to count in English to three and shout “GO!” (Via! Go!) I did what he asked and watched him ride in circles telling me that he won! (ho vinto!) It began to get windy so I told him that we should get going. He got really mad at me and stomped and threw his scooter to the ground in anger. He tried to talk me into going into the dark garage so he could ride but I told him I was scared because it was too dark. (ho paura! I’m scared!) (troppo scuro! too dark!) He assured me that there were no “monsters!” (non mostri!!!) He is too cute. Two minutes I let him lead me into the dark. After I scared him he was ready to go back home and back into the sunlight.

As soon as we were back inside Tommaso and nana were back from the doctors. The kids screamed at each other about something then nana and T had to separate them. Tommaso hit him in the head with something was what I partially understood, Matteo’s face was still a little dirty and I felt guilty that he was crying and holding his head with his dirty hands and his mouth was sticky. He let me take him to the bathroom so wash up still half crying.  As long as he got to put a band-aid on his own head he was fine. “Sangue?” (blood?) he asks me while showing me his head. I see nothing at all, not even a scratch or red marks. I tell him he is okay but he tells me he needs a cerotto (band-aid). Ohhh the days when a band-aid could fix all and any “hurt”. Sometimes I feel like my heart needs a band-aid. He blindly put the bandage on the other side of his head, not where he asked if there was blood, and told me he had to make a pee (fare la pipi!) I left him in privacy and went back out to the living room. Tommaso wanted to play Monopoly with me so I agreed and we let Matteo be the bank. Typically, setting the game up, handing out the money, deciding on game pieces and organizing the cards takes longer than the actual game. And we all know how long Monopoly can be! Once Matteo got fed up and bored he left the game and Tommaso and I split his money and property. Every time that Tommaso would land on my property he would make a dramatic show out of it and hate to pay me! Then he made his first “joke” with my in English. The kid is always animated and has a serious sense of humor for such a young boy. Once he would pay me the correct amount I would tell him, “thank you” and then he shot back, “uhh..NO thank you!” and laugh! There was no pause in between, he was not thanking me, he was saying “no” to the thank you! We continued this “inside joke” throughout the game and would laugh and laugh. I thought that he would forget about his little joke but by the time that he went to bed he popped his little head into my room to tell me goodnight. Then he returned with a ” Lexie? …uhhh NO goodnight!” and giggled as he slammed my door shut! We have an “inside joke”! I wonder what else he will apply this “NO” in front of other English words. What am I talking about needing a band-aid for my heart. These boys make my heart happy everyday! Band aid? NO band-aid!

Nancie

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Posted in: When in Rome