A pasta meal of fusilli ai ferri.

That was it, the “Decree Nisi” had come through, the “estate” divided down the middle…but the ex got the Family Ford, the big Blackwood dining table, most of the kitchen utensils and the family dog….she could have the dog..a hairy, aggressive Jack Russell bitch…she could have the dog!

A full year and a bit had already passed since that final separation, and now the divorce was finalised..I hadn’t even seen the ex for more than six months..I didn’t want to…the memory of so many trying years was enough to turn me away from ever wanting to see her again!

I retained the house as it was central to the final straw of that marriage..Meg didn’t like the house…or the postcode..both were too “low brow” for her..but then I suppose my enrolling in a mature entry course at the university to study Roman History/ Classics didn’t endear me to HER wishes of continually attending ad-infinitum many New Age Workshops run by this Eastern suburbs Guru tosser that while being rather vague about just WHAT was her central philosophy, knew for certain the value of modern currency!

But anyway, I kept the house…or rather, the bank let me stay in the house for the duration as long as I kept up repayments…I was having trouble studying at the university AND keeping up with the mortgage…There was only one thing to do…choose between Classical Studies and the mortgage…I put the house on the market.

This involved the necessity of preparing the property for the inevitable open inspections..now, I am not an expert on the subject of property desirability, but I do know that a vase of pretty flowers always makes the most drear room look so much brighter..and since it is an old adage that ; “A house without a woman is like a lantern without light”..flowers it would be.

I told you that the family car went with the missus, so I was reduced to Shank’s Pony for the short trips to the shops and the bus for the trip to the University..now it happened that right next door to that bus stop was a house that had in its front yard the most brilliant display of sweet peas I had ever seen..so bright!..so brilliant!…and totally overflowing the trellises and beds it was displayed in…I had to have some! I had seen the incumbent of that house pull into her driveway several times as I waited for the bus..and we did exchange smiles at different times..ok..I’m not a sorry looking character, I have kept my shape and condition from those many years as a carpenter in the building trade..and the lady in question was quite a looker herself..; rich, full, dark hair past her shoulder, full woman’s body, Italian, I thought..around fortyish..soft breasted with those Italian hips that would fill out with ageing…but for now SO rounded and full…a delight!…I had never seen a male attached to either the woman or the property.

So it was with some anticipated pleasure that I knocked on the front door to ask if I could please have some of her gorgeous sweet-peas to grace the front rooms of my house.

I was not disappointed.

Maria-Rosa ( for that was her name I was to learn) opened the door a little and instantly “looked me up and down”..having satisfied herself that I was relatively harmless and recognising me from my standing at the bus-stop, she smiled and with a sensuous wry tone said..

“Hello..fancy seeing you here…let me guess..you’ve missed your bus and you are asking for a lift to town?”…and she broadened her smile with the tip of her tongue protruding cheekily between her teeth. I gave a bit of a giggle at the instant humour.

“A lift to the university would be good, but no..not now…I have come to ask if I can have a bouquet of those lovely sweet-peas you grow in your front yard to put into my front room..”

“Entertaining, are we?” Maria-Rosa inquired.

“No…selling up.” I gave my truncated reason.

“Oh…” Maria-Rosa’s face dropped a little..”..that’s a shame, I was beginning to set my clocks to your standing there at the bus stop”….The lady had a sense of humour that I found much to my liking..but I was here “on business”…

And those multi-hued flowers did wonders to brighten the place.for Maria-Rosa was more than generous and clipped off enough stems with her secateurs and gloved hands to let me place a vase full in both the lounge and the kitchen..not only once, but several times over the period of ‘open display’ times…

My house was on the edge of a park and a path wound past my front fence across the expanse of parkland..I was not far from Maria-Rosa’s house and sometimes she would make her way across the park to the delicatessen over the other side..One day as I was turning over the soil under the hollyhocks, Maria-Rosa leant on the fence…

“I thought you didn’t have any flowers?…these look nice”. And she stroked the hollyhock stem.

“Yes..they are nice, but better here in the garden as a show than inside..Your sweet-peas are so bright and delightful..thank you very much.”

“Well, perhaps you can thank me by inviting me in for an afternoon coffee?” Maria-Rosa smiled..and of course, it seemed like a good idea to myself also..We sat at the kitchen table with our instant coffees and Maria-Rosa had a good squizz around at my kitchen, which I thought was neat and tidy..ready for inspection.

“Your kitchen smells funny”. She commented, with her nose wrinkled.

“Oh..” I was surprised and sniffed the air several times.

“I don’t mean it stinks” she explained “I mean it smells stale and…uncooked in”..

“Yes, well..I have been avoiding cooking here as I don’t want to dirty the place up before the inspection”.

“How many inspections do you have?”

“Once a week.” I replied.

“So what have you been eating?” Maria-Rosa inquired..I had to drop my eyes a tad shamefacedly at her question and hesitatingly replied..

“Maccas..among other things”…….Well…the look she gave me!..she then trulled her fingers on the table-top and looked at me disgustingly..

“Why cannot you men look after yourselves?…” she leant toward me “Look, I’ll do you a favour just this once and invite you over to my place for dinner tonight…the kids will be with their father for the weekend and I will cook you up a good pasta meal..you’re looking thin and underfed…” She stood to leave..”bring some wine..” she commanded, then raised her eyebrows in mocking inquiry and asked ; ”Shall I wash my cup for you too?”…and she smiled that beautiful smile she has and touched the side of my face affectionately with her hand..”Addio until this evening…six o’clock sharp!..and hey..”and she waved her finger “no funny business.”

At precisely the appointed time, I knocked on Maria-Rosa’s front door…there was a pause of several seconds, then a shout from inside.

“  ‘Round the back!”…

Upon that exacting instruction, I looked for the gate to the back yard and made for it unhesitatingly. Upon entering Maria-Rosa’s back yard, I was instantly overwhelmed by the sight of a profusion of home-grown vegetables..all that could be named of the season of local fruit and veggie shop produce was growing in that back yard..

There were thick, dark fronds of cavollo nero, still heavily laden broad bean plants looking toward the end of their season leaning over rows of lettuce interspersed with herbs of basil, coriander and several other unrecognisable condiments..New, half grown tomato plants hovered under halos of bamboo bracing stands ready to stake-tie the growing stems..Be-headed artichokes towered next to a side fence of wooden palings, a well mulched bed of asparagus stems pushing their inquisitive phallus skyward carefully kept separate from other plantings over the eastern side of a garden path, while fresh plantings of what must be the Summer vegetables filled the remaining area of a carefully tended garden…I was impressed..and I instantly recalled and recoiled from a disparaging comment made by an Australian teen I knew back many years ago who wrinkled her nose at the suggestion of growing one’s own vegetables..

“Oh no!…only wogs grow their own vegetables!”

“Hello!..” I called toward the house..Maria-Rosa’s head poked out through some sliding doors.

“C’mon in.” she gesticulated with her head “I’m here in the kitchen..”

I entered through those sliding doors into a world of wild, sensuous aromas, heavy with voluminous smells of heated olive oil, garlic, onions and tomato sauces…a steaming stainless steel pot of water stood slowly on the boil awaiting it’s burden of apparent pasta that I could see lying nearby on a cutting board.

But this wasn’t your ordinary spaghetti pasta that you can buy for a couple of dollars down the supermarket…these were obviously the home-made job…thick as and with what looked like a hollow centre…

I put the bottle of chianti (I had presumed on her nationality in a rather gauche way, I admit) on the side bench of the kitchen and went to gaze at the pasta there. Maria-Rosa picked up the Chianti bottle, turned it around and touched the reedy-husks type wrapping on the body of the bottle..she didn’t exactly wince at the pastiche of the product, but I could sense the scorn!…

“This is too good for now, let’s save it for another occasion…” and she placed it on a high shelf..”here, I have a bottle already opened…it is home-made by Franco, an Italian friend I know…he has really perfected his style…” and she poured some dark, rich wine into an ordinary drinking glass with fluted sides..” Salute!” she cried and we chinked glasses…I could see that Maria-Rosa was a no-nonsense woman…and as a recently semi-retired carpenter tradesman, I was very impressed with her “workmanlike” manner..

“What sort of pasta is that?” I asked.

“ It is Calabrian fusilli ai ferri..Maria-Rosa replied..what we in Australia would call “knitting- needle fusilli” it isn’t the same as those short corkscrews of dried pasta that most manufacturers produce. These are spaghetti noodles with a hole in the middle, created by rolling and stretching the dough around a very thin dowel…or perhaps a knitting needle..I use the long piece of a metal clothes hanger that a friend cut for me”.

“And you make it yourself?” I stupidly remarked..Maria-Rosa paused in her action of placing an onion into a small muslin bag and frowned at me…

“Of course I do…I have to..no-one else is going to do it for me.” And she relented her frown and turned it instantly into a broad smile to me..”Tonight I am making it for you”.

“Oh..I wouldn’t expect you to go to that much trouble for me.” I protested.

“But I am not doing it JUST for you…I am doing it for US both!”…that smile again..”If I am going to cook, I am going to enjoy WHAT I am cooking…eh?” and she pointed to a chair at the end of the kitchen table she was working on and upon my seating pushed a shallow plate of antipasti toward me..” Here nibble on these while I prepare the dinner.”

My word!…upon that large, shallow dish were several delicious looking helpings of home prepared hors d’oeuvres…there were artichoke hearts in olive oil, small bocconcini balls, some flans of chargrilled capsicum also in olive oil, broadbeans uncooked but prepared heavens knows how but tasting so wonderful!..there were olives, both green and black..small cuts of proscuito, rolled around small asparagus pieces and several other un-nameable treats that just washed my mouth with saucy flavour and thrilled the senses with promise of delight..there were slices of ciabatta bread to soak up the flavours of the olive oil and I was left wondering if this is the appertiser, what foundation of paradise would the main course be!

“don’t fill up on the hors d’oeuvres” Maria cautioned..content that I was gorging on her creations “leave a little space for the pasta”.

“But this is so beautiful!” I exclaimed..

“No…you must not say “beautiful”..in Italian, we do not use that word to describe food..that word is used to describe a beautiful object or person…like a woman…for food we use the word ; “buono”..: “good”…for food is good..good food is good for you..it is just that ..good.”

“Well then THIS food is very “buono”!”and I smiled to Maria…we smiled to each other. Maria-Rosa leant close to me and plucked an olive from the dish and slid…yes..that is the best description of her action..she slid that olive between her soft, red lips and while looking into my eyes closely, slowly masticated the olive then let the pip drop from between her lips onto a side dish…I did note that gesture most carefully.. after all, I convinced myself..I’m not a slouch.

“But tell me why you put in such work just to give a meal to a neighbour as myself?” I was indeed intrigued at the obvious spread of preparation in front of me, for while I appreciated the effort, I was quite amazed that Maria would make such an effort just for me.

I sat there in my chair for an extended silence from both of us after I had asked that question…Maria-Rosa’s face displayed little emotion and she kept at the preparation of the meal..she did turn to me after a short time and just looked to me and gave me one of those elusive smiles that women are so good at…what did it mean?…that sort of smile..

Maria-Rosa then took a medium sized red onion and placed it into a small muslin bag with a tie-string and placing it on a stout chopping board, took up a wooden meat-tenderiser mallet, smashed down on the onion in the bag several times with some force…She then opened the bag, extracted what looked like the skin and husk of the onion and tippled out the now shredded pieces of that onion…she had “cut” the onion without using a knife!…I had to admit I was amazed…I had never seen such a thing before.

“Why didn’t you just use a knife?” I asked…

Maria-Rosa again gave me that elusive lift of her lips…then she leaned upon her hands upon the table and explained the whole business of the meal and her and me.

“Do you know that in Italy..in Calabria where my grandmother came from..pasta is called the meal of love..because everybody loves pasta…everybody..but it has another connection where my people come from..My Nonna told us about the men of the village there on the coast whose working life was as fishermen…They would leave their homes and go to sea on the trawlers for months at a time…it depended on the catch as to how long they would be gone…plenty of fish meant a short season…less fish, longer out at sea…there was no point returning with an empty hold..the village depended upon those fishermen for both food and pay.”

Maria-Rosa then became busy with her hands breaking up and stripping the vegetables with her fingers while she spoke..never once did she pick up a knife to cut the food..even with the soppressa salami, and the cheese, she broke a large piece off and crumbled it in her fingers..all the sauce preparation and condiments were measured and done with only her fingers..

“Turns were taken by the old people to watch from the cliffs to see if the boats were returning..and when the cry went up that the boats were seen coming over the seas, great preparation was made by the women to welcome their husbands and sons home..and the food that was most prepared was pasta…and my Nonna always cooked the one meal to welcome my grandfather home..for as my Nonna said of those times and I suspect it is still relevant for these times..perhaps even now to yourself..When men are away from the home and their families for such a long time, living in cramped and wild conditions..catching, killing, gutting their kills, blood and guts and waste all around..not that clean or conducive to love and affection..living among only men..they go back to a wild state and become detatched from the needs and comforts of home life..they become brutal..as is their nature..so my Nonna..and the other women in the village welcome their men back into the life of home and family.

And it was this meal of fusilli ai ferri..that re-introduced her husband to the joys and comforts of home..and she cooked it with the touch of love…that is, she would not use a steel blade to cut the ingredients, as the taste and smell of steel was so familiar to those fishermen with all the fish they would cut and clean, they were sick of even the sight of it…and she showed me one day with a piece of chicken..she tore off a piece with her fingers and fed it to the cat, who gulped it down..she then cut a piece off with a knife and offered it to the same cat…and the cat smelt it and refused it as she could smell the steel..so to prepare the food with just your fingers, was to do it as an act of love..So also tonight, I prepare this meal for us with my fingers as I am making it for the love of good company..for is it not good and proper that a woman should enjoy the company of a man as much as the man for a woman?”…and Maria-Rosa smiled again that beguiling smile.. Maria-Rosa had already prepared the ingredients for the sauce and was adding such to a concoction of scented delight would make an alchemist writhe in ecstasy!

“You see so many food dishes served up that look very photographic and tasty, but in so many of those well-presented meals there is the one important ingredient missing that makes all the flavours an eating delight..and that is love..one cooks for those one loves with love..” and she then placed her index finger to her lips and licked the silken sheen of olive oil off it..she saw me look at her in this action and paused with her finger still between her lips..then spoke..”There”..she softly said.. “you will get to taste a modicum of me with each bite, but I am only to be satisfied with just gazing at you..”…again she teased me with her cheeky eyes.

I suddenly realised Maria-Rosa’s objective for inviting me to share this meal with her..this sultry woman, this gourmand of gorgeous sensuality was using the food, the preparation of , cooking, taste, smell and feeding to me as a vehicle of seduction….this Italian beauty was seducing ME with the taste and language of cooking..between the rich odours of the food, the appertisers, the sights, colours and the second helping of that rich, fruity wine, I couldn’t think of a better way to be seduced..”Press on!” I subconsciously concurred..and it was in this soporific state that I first noticed the music in the background…a soft but rhythmic beat along with a kind of soft wailing chant by some women..

“What is that music?” I asked Maria-Rosa.

“The Tarantella…a cultural thing of the region..the music accompanies the dance of the Tarantella..” and while Maria-Rosa tended a shallow pan of hot oil, she explained to me “The Tarantella is an excuse for women of the village to display their young bodies to potential men of the village…their suitors…the theory is that having been bitten by a Tarantula spider, the only way to rid oneself of the poison, was to dance in a voluptuous frenzy till in a state of delirium to drive out the evil poison..”..Maria tippled the onion into the pan and stirred the sizzling pieces…”Of course, in the process of dancing, the young lady would contort her body to show all her best curves and attractions to the man, particularly to her chosen man, watching…perhaps to even make him jealous of the other men seeing her body and so drive him to a frenzy of want of her…which, of course, he couldn’t have unless he wed the lass”…Maria-Rosa then threw in some more ingredients into the pan…I could see small pieces of the sopressa and the pancetta and along with these she tippled in a measure of whisky..she let these cook for a while to, as she explained, let the alcohol evaporate..when the meats were crisp, she added some peeled tomatoes and a rich paste-like tomato sauce she had preserved from the last season’s crop..Just watching the dexterous actions she was using to control the level and sight of those cooking ingredients was mesmerising…add to this the warmth of the wine and the soft-heavy drumming of the music of the Tarantella, I could feel myself being lured into a sensation of embracing delight.

To the simmering pot of boiling water, Maria-Rosa added the pasta..and from that deed, instantly switched back to the sauce and added some fresh porcini mushrooms that she had soaking in water..she stirred this sauce and waited for the pasta to cook..

I took this moment to examine this womanly delight here with me..and I couldn’t help but compare those dancers of the Tarantella to the svelte Italian body of Maria-Rosa..for I could now see she had prepared herself just as diligently as she had the ingredients for this meal..her tights sculptured her legs a curvaceous delight from the delicate, leather sandals that graced her slender feet to the firm, muscular thighs that disappeared under a light cotton shirt with a tail that modestly covered a full bottom and sweeping hips just made to be held in tight embrace…the shirt was buttoned just high enough to let the décolletage reveal the full, soft volume of her breasts and cleavage did draw my eye to that most inviting of a woman’s treasures..her long hair falling around and sometimes into that deep attraction between her bosoms…and I have to admit it was a difficult job to drag my gaze away when it seemed Maria-Rosa was doing her level best to display those choice mammaries to me.

Several times during this period of concentration on the cooking of the meal, we would top up our glasses of the rich wine and smile affectionately to each other..I could see where the evening was heading.

After the pasta was cooked “al dente” Maria-Rosa drained it and added it to the sauce..she mixed it in well and added basil and diced provolone…she let the dish rest to melt the provolone..then divided it so I had the greater measure…which she delighted in letting me see the favour to myself..and to the separate dishes, she then added the grated pecorino with a sprig of basil and placed that sumptuous feast in front of me…the scents that wafted from the meal into my nostrils was both sensational and sensual..

Maria-Rosa marked well my reaction and then whispered in a most instructive manner..

“Mangia!”

I confess to filling myself with that meal and then accompanied the taste with another glass of Franco’s wonderful fruity wine..I was totally consumed by the entire process of what had passed since first arriving at the kitchen of Maria-Rosa..and whatever her intent for this evening, I was fully prepared to satisfy her every demand and that demand was soon to transpire, for once the meal had been fully consumed, the residue sauce scooped up with spoon and finger from my plate and I fell back into my chair with that glass of vino in a most, well almost satiated appetite, I could see Maria-Rosa smile again that ever beguiling smile to me so that it lingered so sensuously on her lips for such a long moment that I could be certain she had a finale up her sleeve

And then it came just as the street lights turned on and one could become aware that the noises of the suburb had ebbed and mellowed so that a kind of peace descended over the penumbra of light.

Maria-Rosa looked to me with the hunger of a loving woman in her eyes, tossed down the last of the wine in her glass, placed it upon the table and leaned over to me to kiss me on the lips and to whisper into my ear..

“And now, caro mio..to bed…” 

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10 thoughts on “A pasta meal of fusilli ai ferri.

  1. The discription of Maria-Rosa is just wonderful! 🙂
    Food cooked with love and the right kind of wine to go with it, what could be better? 🙂
    It proves, that ‘Liebe geht durch den Magen’, as the Germans say. If a woman wants a man to love her, she first of all gives him good food! 🙂
    I love it, how Maria uses her fingers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you do not get this kind of love making anywhere else, I guess it would be rather difficult, to resist. As far as I know, the rules in the Catholic church are rather strict, but maybe Jewish teaching tends to be more tolerant?

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      2. Maria-Rosa was a voluptuary…just like myself…we drank of eachother while it lasted…alas, we both had pubescent children…she 3, me 2…and they were ALL playing up….there was no time for us…so it fell apart…such is life..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Malto Buono Joe. One of your finest. I like a tale with the touch of truth and a full serve of appetite.
    Lucky you escaped and kept your carpenter condition intact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Escaped…yes…but with massive injuries….as could be expected………”You gaze into the abyss, but the abyss also then gazes into you…”…..
      The Slight of Aphrodite.

      With love betrayed, all reason to stay
      And substance for existence gone.
      Now…; falling, falling away..
      Without sound nor purpose,
      To lay like Autumn leaves forlorn,
      On the forest floor…
      With our eyes turned
      From salvation’s door,
      Do we strike out alone, down barren roads?
      Under the stern disdain
      Of the slight of Aphrodite.

      Like

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