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#FoodFiction: Sweet like Honey

#FoodFiction: Sweet like Honey

Questo racconto è il risultato della collaborazione tra SapereFood e Umbra Institute. Dopo aver visitato alcune importanti aziende della regione, gli studenti hanno scritto delle storie di fantasia sperimentando il “product placement”, ovvero l’inserimento di un marchio all’interno della narrazione.

by Maggy McCarthyInspired by a visit to San Biagio Brewery

April 4th, 2017

The old chest was made from warm brown wood, perfectly rectangular and sturdy with black iron hinges and handles. She strained pulling the chest towards her frail body, which was crouched on the ground before her closet. Taking a deep breath she lifted its heavy lid and was immediately hit with its smell. His smell. Wafts of his robust cologne, his favorite cigar, and of course, bay leaves and honey mingled with the smell of aged mothballs and the layer of dust that had been disturbed by her excavation. Tears pricked at the back of her eyes but she was smiling, because it was April fourth, her favorite day of the year. It was the only day she allowed herself to pull that chest from the comforting depths of her closet, the only day she allowed herself the time to reminisce. Using her oversized clip she swiftly twirled her white hair to the back of her head and clamped it down. The tweed coat would be first. Unfolding the jacket she allowed a tear to slide down her face and draped the jacket over her shoulders. She rested her cheek on the scratchy material and closed her eyes.

***

April 4th, 1948

“I don’t see why you insist on wearing these dresses to the steps of the piazza when you fully know you will walk home freezing cold” he said. She shivered into the scratchy tweed coat draped over the top of her shoulders, “That’s clearly why I keep you around”. He let out a low chuckle and took a deep sip from the brown bottle. She scoffed at his loud gulping, “Plus, you seem to have other means of keeping warm, sir”. He rolled his eyes, “Why yes I do, what are you gonna do tell my mother?”. She quickly snatched the bottle and took a mouthful of the craft beer, “Not if you won’t tell mine”. They walked like this through the rest of the slender streets, passing the bottle back and forth poking fun at each other until they reached the court yard which separated their families identical apartments. He looked at her and smiled, “Here we are”. She began to slip off the jacket and he quickly stopped her, “Bring it to the bakery after church, so your father knows you didn’t walk home cold”. She smiled at the fact that he knew exactly when her mom made her retrieve the torta al testo for their Sunday brunch. “Sounds good, anything else?” she retorted with a flutter of her eyelashes. He slowly leaned in and her heart stopped, “Yeah, your breath smells like beer” he ruffled the top of her hair and jogged away before she could react.

The next day she returned the jacket to the bakery, a grin too large to be innocent stretched across her face. “Here’s your precious jacket sweet Christopher”. He snatched it out of her hands, “What did you do to it?”. She widened her eyes in feigned innocence, “All of that craft beer had me feeling a bit silly, I think it may be my new favorite what was it called anyways” He frantically searched the jacket until his eyes finally landed on the inside pocket. A soft pink heart with black cursive writing stitched into the center. “I love VA” he read aloud,“Oh grow up Virginia”. She pretended to search the jacket interior, “I simply don’t know what your referring to, all of that mysterious beer you fed me is clogging me brain, should I ask my father what he thinks about these side effects?” He bristled, “Absolutely not, and it was San Biagio if you must know. She wouldn’t tell him that she already knew of the beer, it was her father’s favorite. Another uncanny similarity between the two. She cackled at his flushed face that was staring at her prized pink heart with unrestrained horror. His eyes shot up at the sound and he held back a smile, “You know, the water they brew the beer with supposedly had magical healing qualities. Too bad nothing could heal your wicked mind” She tipped her head back laughing, thinking she would never forget this feeling of triumph for the rest of her life.

***

April 4th 2017

That same loud cackle rang through her bedroom as she opened the inside of the jacket. Sure enough, that faded pink heart still rested in the same place she stitched it 69 years ago. Taking off the coat she folded it and set it to the side. Next was the box of cigars. She took out the small brown box that already reeked of the putrid things before even being opened. She wrinkled her nose and debated opening the box. It had been 55 years since their fight about that box and she hadn’t bothered to check how many he had smoked since then. She opened it, one was missing. Letting out a chuckle she grabbed the tweed jacket, sure enough the missing cigar still wrapped in its plastic cover easily slipped out of the inside pocket. Tears pricked at the back of her eyes again, he was all talk.

***

April 4th 1962

“What I’m trying to say is, not only is it a useless hobby but it could get our children sick!” she said pointedly. He rolled his eyes, gazing lovingly at the box. “Look at them, smell them. Virginia, they are perfect AND they were a gift! It would be rude not to at least have one”. She quickly shot back, “Not in my house and not around my kids”. He sighed, “Our kids. But okay fine”. She saw the reluctance in his eyes but trusted him enough to let him keep the box in their room on top of his dresser. She had no reason to believe that he would ever smoke one again, his loyalty to their family and her rules had no bounds. Her love for him swelled in that moment, so she decided she would surprise him with something nice. After dropping her baby boy off at his Nonna’s house she hopped on the train and rode into the rolling Umbrian country side. The monastery turned brewery was a destination that Christopher had longed to visit but would never reach on his own accord. Once she arrived she understood why her husband  was so enamored with the rustic brewery. It was natural, comforting, warm, and the source of the best beer in Italy. She settled in a chair overlooking the mountains and waited for her husband to see her note and train tickets she left on top of the cigar box on his dresser. Within two hours she spotted her husband’s boyish grin flying up the stairs of the lookout. He ran to her and scooped her off her feet, dropping the amber liquid he already carried in his hands. He paraded her around the lookout, carrying her bridal style. To her absolute horror he began yelling “I have the best wife!”.  After fighting for him to put her down he gathered her into an even bigger embrace, he smelled more of honey and bay leaves than the beer brewing in the building next to them. He grabbed the sides of her face and leaned in. She smiled, looked into his eyes, and said “Your breath smells like beer”.

***

April 4th 2017

She put the box of cigars back in the chest and sighed shaking her head. She was still horrified by his display of affection, her cheeks flooded with color thinking of the looks they received from the strangers seated on that patio. They would go back to the San Biagio brewery every April 4th from then on. It quickly became their favorite weekend getaway and they watched as the small brewery and resort grew into a hugely successful business. If you didn’t know Christopher you might think his loyalty to the beer rivaled that of her own relationship. She rifled through the rest of the box. Pictures of the family, a leather bound notebook, his fathers pocket watch, all resurfaced before her hands yet none of it could begin to represent the man that was her husband. This made her frustrated. It had only been four years since his passing, yet his the sound of his voice, the way he laughed, how he looked at her, seemed less tangible than it had even a year before. She took his tweed coat back out of the box and closed the lid behind it. She draped the jacket over her shoulders and grabbed the bag that was waiting for her by the door. She looked at the unchanging rolling country side as it passed her train window. Walking up to the brewery door she was greeted by familiar faces and that smell, his smell. She was guided by two handsome young brewers to her favorite chair on the lookout. A frosted glass of his favorite beer, the Monasta, was set beside her. She took a small sip, and let the taste of bay leaves and honey soothe the ache in her throat. The items in the trunk couldn’t begin to explain the man her husband was. But this place, this feeling, and the cold familiar liquid healing her heavy heart almost did. She took another sip.

***

April 4th 1949

“Now, where do you think your going?”. She froze in her tracks and whipped around to see Christopher sitting casually on the table in the court yard between there houses, a shapely bottle of Monasta hanging from his hands. She sauntered forward, feigning courage and ignoring her racing heart “I’m celebrating”. He looked up into the sky, pretending to think. “Well, its April 4th… what is there to celebrate”. She grabbed the beer from his hold and casually examined the bottle, paying attention to the thick froth and amber liquid swirling smoothly with the movements of her hand. “April 4th, is the day you finally gather the courage to ask me out”. She finally glanced up from the bottle. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped before he covered it with a large hand. He stared at her and her heart sank, she had completely humiliated herself. He reached out and took the bottle back, taking a deep gulp. The moonlight illuminated his goofy smile as he said “How could I have forgotten? Happy April 4th to you my beautiful girlfriend”. She leapt into his arms and they began walking with the moonlight shining against there backs and the stars dancing in their eyes.

Umbra Institute

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