A Lasagna Dinner Party!!!

December 15, 2011

The man started to knead the dough, carefully, gently, at first, then with a more enthusiastic flow. There were no thoughts of spreads, percentages or back-end points, nor, for that matter, were there any lawyer’s minutes or bullet points that needed to be studied. It was just him, some flour, some water and a couple of eggs.

He had energetically battered these ingredients around in a large mixing bowl. It might not have looked like it, but this man was happy.

He knew that things would soon change. All that that had been inspiring his pleasant thoughts would soon come to an end, and there would be real life to deal with: negotiations, confrontations, and more unpleasantness to follow. There was no avoiding it, but at this very moment he was impervious to it all.

The day flowed slowly, punctuated here and there by a succession of repetitive routines, all part of this glorious enterprise. He was not working on some business deal, as much as he enjoyed doing that. No, sir, this was something much more emotional; it represented a connection to his past sealed with gestures that were repeated as precisely as steps in an intricate dance.

His hands moved with a graceful elegance; there was a self-assured flamboyance in every gesture. He had always envied that when, in his youth, he’d watched the elders of his family performing this same ritual.

Now in his fifties, he had come to understand the many subtleties of life. The stories he had heard in his youth made much more sense now, and for a few moments, he could have sworn he had heard the voices of those relatives who had already gone to the other side. He had felt their touch, he had seen their hands, right next to his, helping him push the dough into the rolling press of the pasta machine.

Without his knowing, a smile moved over his face, growing wider and wider by the moment. He did not know why, but he felt happy.

The roasting pan before his eyes became filled with layer upon layer of delectable goodness. Some would say he was making lasagna, but it was more than that; he was falling in love with life, all over again.

Some men talk about what they’re going to do; some men just get it done. Some men, instead, as if by magic, can harness the power of pure joy and weave it into every detail of their enterprise. It did not happen often for this man. He had just entered the years of his maturity, and he still battled with the uncertainty created by his own self-doubt. But when his hands prepared food, the game changed. He became at one with the world and the flow of life. Joy sparkled in everything he touched, and whatever he made tasted like joy…pure, simple, unadulterated joy.

He used to watch his parents cook for the family. He envied what they could do, and he always aspired to be like them one day. On this 19th day of the month of February in the year of the Lord 2011, he became a bit more of the man he always wanted to be. It had nothing to do with money; it had nothing to do with work or artistic accomplishments of any kind. It was far better than that. He simply murmured to the spirits in the room, “Grazie per avermi insegnato (thank you for teaching me)!” He felt their touch; his soul glowed with pride.

I am that man, and this is my lasagna, and it was the best I ever made in my life. I hope you will make it for your family, too, sometime soon. Do not postpone! Like a wise man said once, “Time waits for nobody!”

©2013 Nick Stellino Productions