Story Go Round 09/25/2004 John's Birthday

The Development of Linguini as a Mercenary Tool

It began with gnocci and couscous. The tomato sauce wars were less about basil or oregano than they were about semolina vs. potatoes. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Couscous and rice were stockpiled. In warehouses by the docks, in closets around our house. In underground bunkers. I was only seven at the time, and didn't understand that the looming masses were benign, giving my childhood nightmares a perpetually starchy feeling.

It was necessary, the stockpiles. Otherwise we could never prove we had any claim to security, and the mercenaries Father hired to escort us to school and mother to the market, and in general to keep the compound secure would have been over to Lenta's or some other House before you could boil water. As I grew older, the nightmares receded into horror at reality. The rice + corn blights of 07 and 08 had radically changed the world.

Pasta was it, and that was that. As usual, it was more about water now - how clean it was, how hot it was, and how often you could re-use it - than the food supply itself. Human societies always come down to the H2O.

We had our own pond, too. And a spring, but that was secret. When overwhelmed completely, I would hide at the spring, behind some rocks, where only my sister would know to find me.

My sister eventually moved to Sicily - where they had salt-gangs. They would fight over the appropriateness of kosher vs. sea salt and anyone who argued for rock salt from the mines were immediately shunned.

But back to the point. As the tomato sauce wars gave way to alfredo and other white sauces, Pasta began to take on new shapes as well. It came with the transition from potatoes and rice to wheat.

[cont'd 2/18/2005]And there was no going back - the die was cast.

Mia reflected hurriedly on how these episodes impacted her family lineage as she rushed for the train. Being olive farmers, things had not gone well at first. They had to adapt to cold presses to squeeze out more oil, and convince the restaurants to use oil, rather than butter for the base of their sauces. She swung onto the train just as it was beginning to roll. Sauces, sauces, that was all her Papa cared about. It was what had driven her away from her family to Rome and a life of hurried indecision, replate with a bevy of suitors and and industrial sized pasta maker named Giuseppe. She had no life, no personality, one day was the same to her as the next, but she was working her way in and up.

She knew the benefits of using oil to separate the pasta. Spaghetti was easy, while spirolina could soak up too much to accept a full-bodied sauce. Butter just made the noodles sticky.

"Your hair - excuse me - is so glossy!" As she lurched in ungainly fashion up the awkward, narrow steps into the car, the voice came from somewhere near her waist. The man behind her shoved his luggage up the steps ahead of him. Clearly, he thought a compliment could make up for nearly tripping her. She reached for a railing.

"Excuse me?" she gasped.

Amber=purple; John=pink; Alan=blue; Terry=orange; Habeeb=grey; Kevin=green; Eileen=olive