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The Hawk's Nest

Eating Italian

I’m happy, the holidays are here! They start a little early in our house with birthdays for both of us in early November. So from us here at The Hawks Nest we wish you a joyous season.

I still haven’t done my shopping yet though. A few weeks ago I thought all my questions around a Christmas present for my wife Linda were answered. You can imagine my excitement when she announced she wanted pizzelles. I immediately started making plans for a safari in Africa to hunt pizzelles. I could almost hear the drums beating and the camp fire crackling—this was going to be the best Christmas ever. However, every travel agency I contacted seemed to be confused. Even after I told them that my highly educated and sophisticated wife made the request, the questions for our trip never got off the ground.

“I’m sorry sir, but I don’t know about any hunting trips for pizzelles; could you possibly mean gazelles?”

“Well maybe… no she said pizzelles. Ya, that’s what she said all right.”

“If I may sir,” a rather patronizing voice said, “I think your wife wants some Italian cookies, not a hunting trip to Africa.”


Once again, the Italian gourmet I married served up a new dish, yet another I had never heard of.

When we first started sharing a table, she wanted to know about my style of dining. To be honest I didn’t want to tell her my standard, “chips are a meal, dip is another one,” which pretty much was my style. Instead, in an attempt to make it sound like I could prepare food, and I knew she liked Italian, I said tuna-mac and macaroni and cheese.

After a slight wince she said gently “Oh, you like pasta?”

“Ah… ya… sure, pasta… you bet.”

“So do you want some spaghetti?”

“Sure spaghetti… I like that.”

“How about linguini, or fettuccine, maybe manicotti?”

I changed the subject to firewood, or something, because I didn’t know if she was talking about cars or opera singers.

Over the years I have learned that Italian cuisine isn’t just pizza and Chef Boy-ar-dee. I have learned all of those” inis” and “ottis” are different kinds of pasta, variations on spaghetti, all of which needs a sauce over them for any flavor at all.

The other day while talking with Trish, the publisher of the River Journal, I confided that back when I was single I thought spaghetti was just a carrying agent for the sauce, which of course came in a jar. I was telling her that in the spirit of efficiency I oftentimes would simply eat the sauce out of the pan after heating it and didn’t bother with the long stringy stuff that always dripped red liquid on my shirt. It seemed to me the spoon is a more effective carrying agent then the pasta.

She gasped, then said it reminded her of time we were having breakfast together and after I had finished my French toast I took my spoon and cleaned up the syrup and the butter and powdered sugar floating in it, that still smothered the plate. She practically screamed into the phone, “Eating spaghetti sauce without spaghetti is as bad as that.”

I tried to calm her by reminding her of her nickname, “The Calm Center of Tranquility.”

After she mellowed a bit I said. “Trish, it isn’t as bad as that, it’s as good as that.”

There were some strange noises and the call was dropped. Shame, I was about to tell her when I was really being efficient I spooned it right out of the jar and ate it cold, especially if it was a hot day.

So here we are in another Holiday Season. Linda and I want to send you wishes for a blessed Holiday. We pray for peace and abundance for all.

And, I need you to send me some ideas for a present to give to Linda. A friend said “How about biscotti.” When I asked what kind of sauce that takes she said “No, no it’s an Italian cookie.”

Well I’m not going to fall for that. I know now, Italian cookies are pizzelles. Biscotti sounds more like a car to me.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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