Luca Penne

Something About Italian Cooking

The rigatoni isn’t rigid enough to support the cottage we’re building on the beach near Miami Falls. I can’t remember if we should cook it less or longer, or maybe add potato starch to the water. Meanwhile the local mafia wheels around in golf carts. At the drive-in bistro, geezers whistle through their dentures as teenage waitresses serve platters of writhing spaghetti. Italy was never like this, one old meatball sneers through his trifocals. The days look alike, smirking in the mirror. Tiny dogs chase the golf carts and bark to warn away the squirrels. We wanted to build our cottage here because the leftover pasta heaps like snowdrifts, a source of building material superior to the shabby particle board coming down from Canada. No tariff, either. We braid vermicelli into cables tough enough to tie down our cottage against hurricanes. We decorate by peppering the stucco with shells. The old-timers admire our effort, their plastic teeth waggling like shingles in a storm. The waitresses giggle and mock the old men. They promise to get the short-order cook to subcontract our framework and plumbing, and they’ll persuade the slow man who mops the floor to slop our dunes with asphalt thick enough to frustrate the tides.

A Pirate Ship Trailing the Mayflower

The local bank’s loan officer explains that her ancestors arrived on a pirate ship trailing the Mayflower. She admits her husband would have been a lousy pirate, just as he had been a lousy gardener, mortgage broker, and father. One day last week he dumped woodstove ashes in a plastic bucket and stored it in the garage. So their house burned down in the middle of the day, giving everyone in the village a thrill. The vinyl siding melted in curlicues of smut. The garage collapsed with a shudder of orange gusts. Firefighters tossed smoldering books through the living room window. Too bad crooked real estate deals, bribery, and the torture of small children and animals don’t make us blush the way fire does. We need more and better pirates. But after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the pirates discovered their ship drew too deep a draft, so they sailed south to the Indies where trade winds scoured the decks and cannons rusted beyond all hope of firing. Still, they looted a few Spanish treasure ships, and returned to New England with cash enough to found this dismal suburb and plant their foundations in wetlands that sob all night with thaw.

About the author

12.4 (Summer 2008)   The 2River View