Our newest proud possession: an espresso/cappuccino maker touched by God himself
Ever since my husband and son returned from their spring break trip to Italy, all I've been hearing is ITALYITALYITALYISSOGREATISSOGREATISSOGREAT!
Hence, the appearance of a DeLonghi espresso maker (to replace our old, deceased model, bought after our last trip to Italy 20 years ago). A brick of Italian coffee. Espresso and cappuccino cups... Those tiny, adorable spoons. Dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated and tossed in pasta imported from Italy. Salami. A slab of Parmesan cheese - brought over in a suitcase, made in the region my husband's family calls home - bigger than my head. A cheese grater with tiny, tiny holes...
And the Clouds Parted, and the Angels Sang...
At first that was charming. Oh, of course it is! There's so much history in Italy, the pace of life so much slower, the food, the sights! I could look on the two of them - especially my son, who'd never seen Europe before - with understanding, since I've been so many places, seen so many things. I fit more of Europe into a very packed seven years than most will see in a lifetime. Been there! Saw that!
Not to trivialize it at all. It's so, so very different from the States. We're the melting pot, the vast country with a mish-mash of cultures, making up the most unique nation comprised of everyone and everything on earth.
Each country within Europe and the U.K. has its own distinct feel, its identifiable culture and its venerable, ancient history. Our country's history is venerable and ancient as well, though it's an archaeological dig of the indigenous people - the Native Americans - who were stewards of the land before the Europeans arrived. Our cathedrals date from the mere 1700s at the oldest, built in a much more slap-dash style, comparatively speaking.
History here consists of the same as all young nation states: early trading of furs and resources; claiming of territory and wars in the interest of securing power; determined colonists fighting guerrilla battles, picking off British soldiers dressed in scarlet - who may as well have just painted targets on themselves, screaming "SHOOT ME!". Look back at the history of any country; you'll see much the same. Only, ours is more recent, like just yesterday compared to most of the world. We're seeing a modernized version of a new nation, essentially. Did the world's established nations have it all together in just under 240 years?
I think not.
Italy is a different animal altogether: a country with one, fairly unified culture. We'll never be that. Our people will forever be - as far as I can foresee - a mixing bowl filled with ingredients of all colors and flavors. So it's natural we should be so fascinated by cultures as recognizable as Italy's, as homogeneous.
The point is, it's all great. It's all fascinating and different and diverse. And I've been there, and I've seen and loved it, leaving some countries with an aching heart, missing the people I met and the things I saw - the living history - before I'd crossed the border on my way out. But always, always, when my plane touched its wheels down on the tarmac at O'Hare I've had the impulse to climb down and kiss the ground. This place is troubled, it's filled with grief and faults and the growing pains of youth.
But it's home.
Keep on passing me the espresso! The cheese? Yes, please! I'll gladly share in the best of the bounty from other countries. I'm still glad to be here, though, where it's comfortable. Where I know and understand, to at least a partial extent, what it means to be a part of this whole mish-mash of a hulking country.
I'll always love it here best.
** Subject line quote: Emily Dickinson