La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio
I have fed and dined upon your words
satiated my own hunger
for travel and culinary knowledge.
the treasures you have shared
are now my treasures
stringing families together
keeping me nourished
my mind dressed and many years
marinated and seasoned.
I’ve cooked my way through your life
the history of your generations
I feel a part of you
and I’m drawn to Sicily
and its sun baked shores
to discover the Mediterranean world
you cook within
to sit beneath the shade
of the pine nuts, harvested
shelled by your houseman, Peppe,
watching old movies.
Cooking my way through your pages,
has been a life lesson
in Italian art,
a foodie’s journey, walking in the footsteps
of a writer and artist,
taking steps with a family,
feeling the ties that bind you together,
like the spaghetti dressed with mint and thyme
wrapped around our wrists that pray,
the perfect tension as it simmers
through the air,
confetti of pecorino
raining upon an entangled embrace
grated from the sky,
I am an insalata di Arance,
sweet salt umami and oiled perfection.
You have taught me the simplicities of life,
the prima materia,
the beginnings of taste.
It has been the tender bits,
your personal memories, details
that secret ingredient in every dish
the way, oh, the whey, the way
the curds form around
the rendered pork drippings
as the loin braises in the whole milk,
keep the little fried browned bits,
my body shudders — yes.
You equipped me to deliver
the perfect crunch and cream
a cannoli made by hand
the two night ricotta,
what it’s all about in that bite.
I brought my own flourishes
to your dishes
as creating Italian in Ottawa
bears little resemblance to
your own Gangi.
I wonder what secrets
what tomatoes you use
what basil do you stem
what label sits upon the oil
you press from your father’s memory?
And do you
have Japanese beetles in Sicily?
My god, they’re crazy here,
you’d think they’re Italian beetles
the way they devour all things sweet,
my Genovese basil, my Italian plum tree.
I hope you’ve been well
found a way to navigate
this global pandemic
that your food,
your culinary arts and sciences
have been a refuge
for all close to you — and your family —
as it has been for mine
and so I wanted to say thank you
for providing me
and those near me
the skills and the pleasures
and even to smile.
My tender best ~ Dale
My heart thanks you for your letter
and your menu of careful sorted words
they have touched me deeply.
I write to you as sit under the tall pines
the place you recounted where Peppe
stood his ladder for so many years
collecting the pine nuts you recounted.
You made me smile and weep at once
as we lost Peppe a few years after
the cookbook went to press
and we miss him dearly
and yet I am moved
like the steam from an arancine
as his memory
whets your palette
lingers on in you,
who never met him,
as the Casareccia pasta gripped
As I’m sure you’ve heard,
Italy and Sicily have had a difficult time
with the Covid
And it has been very hard on us all
and our restaurants
serving our communities
with whom we are entwined
We made the hard choice to close
Gangivecchio last fall
and shuttered the school
for a year, at least,
as there are no people to come —
But the food
it is created
as we say in Italy
la dolce vita
angel hair in oil and garlic
for food is
I wonder if you
must have some Italian
it is about the essence
letting that essence
all those years
the writing and the work
and turn it into
Thank you Dale
and may your own
Ps. About the Japanese beetles ….
Submitted as part of “National/Global Poetry Writing Month” (#NaPoWriMo #GloPoWriMo).
Today’s prompt: Day Eleven: “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a two-part poem, in the form of an exchange of letters. The first stanza (or part) should be in the form of a letter that you write either to yourself or to a famous fictional or historical person. The second part should be the letter you receive in response. These can be as short or long as you like, in the form of prose poems, or with line breaks – and of course, the subject matter of the letters is totally up to you.”
30 Poems in 30 Days
All text and photography © Dale Schierbeck
…. more of my original Poetry on EatsWritesShoots here.