Nostalgia-Nostalgie Look at the list of current bestsellers and you will find an array of books about dysfunctional families, dystopian societies, global catastrophe, or protagonists living really screwed-up lives. The phenomenon is easy to understand. Many of us are coping with deep-seated anxieties about our world, our health, or even our survival. No wonder, then, that a little book, a collection of short stories, Le petit Nicolas (Nicholas) by René Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempé, appeals. It offers the reader a refuge from such cares. A wistful but unsentimental fantasy about a little boy living with his bourgeois parents in a … Continue reading Nostalgia-Nostalgie

A Tavola: Breakfast in Firenze

Every morning around 7:00 in casa Chellini, Teresa the all-purpose donna, housemaid, and scullion would knock on our bedroom door, ask “Si puo?”which meant, “May I come in?” and after hearing one of us answer, would enter bearing a wooden tray always set with the same objects: several thin slices of stale bread or dry toast, two small slabs of butter, a tiny pot of jam, two coffee cups and saucers, and a small pot of bitter coffee next to a little sugar dish,two tiny spoons, and a small pitcher of milk. Continue reading A Tavola: Breakfast in Firenze

The Tea That Saved Me… Sort Of

As I raise a warm mug to my lips, steam wafts over its rim and carries the citrusy scent of chamomile tea to my nose, a scent never failing to remind me of a very bad day. Decades ago, I was a student on junior year abroad in Florence, Italy. Enrolled in a class on the history of the Italian language I was supposed to attend at least twice a week, I thought at the time I had better things to do than sit in a dark, dank classroom in an old University of Florence building in Piazza San Marco. … Continue reading The Tea That Saved Me… Sort Of

Dancing in the Kitchen

Some of the most endearing characters on Saturday Night Live! in the late seventies and into the eighties were Gilda Radner’s creations.  My favorite was Judy Miller and her ‘showtime.’ Dressed in her GSA Brownie uniform, Gilda/Judy hosted and performed some of her ‘shows’ in the privacy of her own pink frilly bedroom. She crashed into closet doors, leaped on the bed, rolled around, and ran through a dizzying series of story lines until she landed, exhausted on the floor. The performances amounted to what appeared to be a great catharsis or at least an escape from a too real … Continue reading Dancing in the Kitchen