When I was younger, even six years ago, I don’t know if I could conjure this life that I am inhabiting. Pulling roero arnies (an Italian white) into my tongue and frolicking with it like a teenager smooching after a movie. The thin, roasted veal twirling around on my fork, that most likely breathed a few days ago on a pasture a few kilometers from here. The wine, only produced for guests, nurturing the feebleness of thought.
Slowly, alone, I dine with a shudder. A cloak of a meal, i am imbibing the threads of a fabric, a vastness i cannot discern.
Here, the tables of other guests, lovers a decade older than myself, a group of couples, rounds of middle age men, all feasting on the tone set, the moods of each other, make a lullaby for eager appetites. .
And I dine alone. I take the set menu, a bit hesitant that I can not carry the fullness of five courses, and five different wines. But the “Cantina del Rondo” here near Alba, Italy shows the spoiles of its land, it’s people, and I am catapulted back into my intoduction to anthology class…a Participant Observer of this culture, and also, my own life.
And I notice it right away: the faithful dining companion of self doubt.
The fear of following the life that pleases you. Of being alone, perhaps, but more so, of racing down a rabbit hole simply to pursue that tick rock pulse of ones one gravity.
The others talk in Italian, and the nouns pop up identifiable here and there, but the heart of understanding is missing.
There it is…. I cannot grasp my own misapprehension
I am here, alone, in Italy, in an amazing cantina burning with passion but no place to translate it. And each bite merely invites other hungers, more perceptions. (the woman to my left is clearly disenchanted with her husband. I am aware that she’s pressing into her cheeks, as the wine presses out cherries, and i observe that he is shriveled in a way that the veal is dried, but profusing this warm boldness.)
It is not that speak the words of food tonight as substitution, it is more that I listen to the proclamations of my own core.
And have you done that? Paused and persisted and sat without the interference of another and then articulated the crunch of your own yesness?
And the courses come, and I do not choose,
It is not about choice
But about connection
The barbaresco produced only for me hitting the tongue with a rooted presence.
that fresh pasta, that cured cheek, reminds me of good company, one that makes you happy to feed.
The silence permits me to make out the scraping of a whisk behind me,
The amplification simple chemistry,
The metaltic aftertaste of effort
And yes, I sense the cream, that tangy zambiogne, the nicolla of the biscuit
The sweetness softening my resolve to make myself hard.
But beyond that, there is only this beating
This leaning forward,
The zambionge pronounced and expectant,
This pulsing center that is adopted
Into the heart of exuberant grace.