Yesterday afternoon I walked around my friend’s garden down the road and fell in love with a rose named Terracotta, dark as chocolate and not brick-red at all, but with a dusty bloom that reminds you of old crumbling walls flaking grains of sand and dust motes. We also looked at her flowering Mackaya bella, an indigenous bush that grows in the African rainforest, glossy leaves and shining white flowers, the whiteness of candlewax.
My overgrown pup could hear my voice in the distance and howled pathetically for me to return, even though the housemate was teaching him to catch a new rubber ball.
At one point my friend said to me, unexpectedly: ‘You have a life laid bare.’
It is so true — the devastation that for years I tried to conceal, the wasted years, the childlessness, the loss of family, the inert, blasted inner landscape. Now it is all there for anyone to see. That’s who I am, anyone can walk through that ashy smoking minefield because there is nothing left to explode. In one or two places there is new growth, substance taking root. Amazing.
Today I shall be making a minestra or baby minestrone soup for the former art teacher because she is unwell and the doctor told her to have soup. I suppose he meant nourishing but bland and invalidish soups, but the former art teacher doesn’t do bland.
This minestra involves two kinds of onion, celery, carrots, courgettes/zucchini, cauliflower, a single potato, tomatoes, green beans, a small gem squash, savoy cabbage, cannellini beans, some pink new garlic, broken-up pasta, finely chopped parsley as a garnish. I’m not adding bacon, pancetta or sausage so that will keep it minestra. The rule for making a truly Italian and tasty minestrone is to add the vegetables one at a time and saute them, let them simmer before adding the next vegetable peeled and diced, and only add the beans and pasta at the end. No stodge. This I learned from Marcelle Hazan’s books on classic Italian food as well as from eating bowls of soup made by a grumpy Italian cafe owner named Guido.
Goodness, one soup at a time.