If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

18 October 2006

Best kitchen accessory ever:

A Tuscan man. (Close second: a microplane).

I'm not kidding.

Maybe it's just my circle of friends, but Tuscan men are incredibly handy in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, as much as I love to tinker around in the kitchen (and create mostly-edible things), I have no ego whatsoever when it comes to turning my kitchen over to any Tuscan man who walks through my door.

It's the great dichotomy of the mostly chauvinist, patriarchal society (where women are strangely absent, at least out in the countryside where I live): you'd THINK that men wouldn't even know how to boil water.

But in fact, it's the opposite.

Now, like everything else in Italian life, there are RULES about what goes together and how things are made. But some of the most delicious, unexpected meals of my short Italian life have been whipped up - mostly out of nothingness - by Tuscan men in my kitchen.

Witness the Split Personality, who arrived late one night unannounced and - after openly sneering and pronouncing the contents of my refrigerator "Un-Italian," - proceeded to throw together a mouth-melting pasta, zucchini and tomato and sausage.

Witness Sig. Luna Piena, who ... after two months of my house sitting empty, using the spartan resources of Mrs. Hubbard's cupboard, whipped up my 'welcome home' meal: a delicious cream/caper/pesto pasta that I still try to reproduce, to no avail.

The meals always differ, but there are a few common themes: Pasta. Much flailing of arms. A bit of wine. No measurements. Rapid chopping. Laughter. A little more formaggio. Me staying out of the way.

For all those of you who think I'm a control freak, you wouldn't recognize me with a Tuscan man in my kitchen. I'm the one sitting quietly and appreciatively in the corner with a glass of wine; knowing damn well that he's got it covered.

(sip.)

Oh, I could TOTALLY get used to this. Except I'd lay you good odds that if I became a Tuscan housewife, I'd pretty much be expected to learn all this and behave appropriately. Meaning, learn to cook ... the RIGHT way, according to the "rules".

Hmmmm. So the choice is: give up my control freak nature or learn to play by the rules? Heh. Seems to me that my seat here as the wine-sipping 'straniera' observer in the corner is QUITE comfy, thank you very much.

And I can always vaguely gesture towards the microplane hanging on the knife board if he needs it. I know my place.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

V...my one track mind is still on the unexpected love several blogs ago...is it a Tuscan man who cooks?

virgin blogger

3:47 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

Oh sweet Jesus! Just the thought of a Tuscan man cooking in my kitchen........sigh....

6:06 PM  
Blogger Deirdre said...

Not only Tuscans. My own husband "se la cava," but many Italian men have a fetish about cooking. We had a couple visiting from Rome last weekend, and Sandro spent hours making an exquisite dish of turkey breast with garlic and ginepro (juniper?) and other herbs.

8:13 PM  

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