I remember the cats and small dark bar that sold frozen tiramisu. When my dad was teaching in Monte Castello, he kept a running tab there. I felt like I was an old movie star when I placed my dessert on the glass counter and said can you put it on my tab, please? The “tab” felt so important and special. I imagined a long scroll that unrolled behind the cash register and reached a back room where the bartender watched a fuzzy television when no one was around. I thought the tab could on and on. Endless tiramisu. Every time I reached for its dish in the freezer, a phantom glove appeared and immediately replaced it. My dad never drank in the bar though. Outside the light lit up our faces like stones in water. He drank small glasses of grappa in the sun. I chewed bubble gum. My mom was beautiful.
Like most young children, I loved climbing stairs. I liked to move and feel my surroundings change with each new imaginary game. I wandered for hours while my dad painted and my mom let me loose. Sometimes we visited an old woman in town. We could barely speak to each other but my mom liked to drink coffee with her and communicate through hands, cheeks and the gentle tug of sleeves.
When my dad and I went back recently, we didn’t bicker once. At home we can sound like an old married couple that’s hard of hearing. He couldn’t complain about not finding the herring or mayonnaise in the refrigerator. There were resident doves and tiny lizards that hushed conversations with the flick of their tails. I ordered Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking while in Italy so it would arrive on my doorstep when I got home. Last night I made one of my favorite recipes from it, Pink Shrimp Sauce with Cream. The meal takes less than 20 minutes to make. I love it with fresh pasta.
Pink Shrimp with Cream
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp, unshelled weight
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Black pepper, ground fresh
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 pound fresh fettuccine
- Put the olive oil and the chopped garlic in a saucepan, and turn on the heat on medium. Cook the garlic, stirring it, until it becomes colored a pale gold, then add the tomato paste and wine solution. Pour it in all at once. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Add the shrimp, salt and liberal grindings of pepper and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook for 2 minutes or so, turning the shrimp over frequently to coat well. Remove the pan from heat.
- With a slotted spoon, retrieve shrimp and puree them.
- Return pureed shrimp to the pan, turn on the head to medium and add the cream. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the cream thickens.
- Toss the sauce with cooked drained pasta. Add the chopped parsley and serve at once!
I’d love to go back soon. I wouldn’t say a thing.