Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bartered Brownies…A Place in My Heart

Let me tell you a story about Franco and Anna, an amazing couple. A stellar example of a model Italian family, Amanda’s Italian “mom and dad” extended their welcomes to us on a number of occasions during our stay. I knew we were “in for it” :) when I first met Franco. I had the opportunity to go with Amanda to a Bible study on the night of our arrival to her home. It was a woman’s Bible study at Anna’s home and it was in total Italian. My limited Spanish was stretched to maximum capacity as I attempted to fine-tune my hearing to the few similar words that the languages share. After I had personally ready through Hebrews 12 at least 6 times on my own, the Bible study was over and I felt assured that we all walked away from that passage with a different message.

On our way out, Amanda and I stopped upstairs so she and Anna could settle some plans that they had - as Anna had agreed to teach us all how to make her homemade lasagna. (can we say a huge yum-o). In Italy, unlike in the land of Carrie, recipes are passed down in the family and Never changed. Each family has their own distinct way of cooking and making certain dishes and variation is not an option. Well, it was at this same time that I got the opportunity to meet Franco, one of my favorite Roman, Sicilian, Italian men. His lively humorous eyes didn’t need the verbal communication that would prove relatively difficult for us to connect on. He soon took some comfort in poking fun at me (I don’t know if the Barbie comment was a complement or what) and all four of us went downstairs to meet more family members - the son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Fernando and Roberta.

Somewhere along the way in the planning of “Lasagna-Fest” we were pegged with making desserts and Franco wanted chocolate. On a previous occasion, he had missed the opportunity to partake of the American delicacy of brownies and wanted that problem to be fixed. My eyes lit up at the newly discovered calling I had, and I assured him with broken Spanish that I would make sure he had his brownies. Soon enough he wanted Me to make them for him. As this fun challenge and compliment set into my mind, I reflected on the resourcefulness I had learned baking in Malaysia - hey, if I could do it there, I could do it anywhere. Well, in the end, Carries “Italian” brownies succeeded with a fudgy brownie of heavy-handed amounts of chocolate and chocolate chunks, espresso (it’s Italian, right), and a secret ingredient were plated and delivered to Franco’s delight - a memory I will not soon forget.