This last holiday weekend for the Italian Republic Birthday Day,
on the 2nd of June we had wonderful weather, brilliant colours all around, many flowers blossoming, and the house full of interesting guests sitting around our table in the “limonaia” for dinner. Thanks to you who came to visit us!
While I was preparing dinner, Friday evening, I was thinking about that lapse of time in which I usually wait for the guests to show up for my dinner, experiencing some kind of tension mixed with excitement. The stove is on, the appetisers are on the plates, the table is set, only bread and wine are missing and some people are outside approaching our “limonaia” room, with curiosity, respect, requesting permission for coming in. The table is one and very often the guests don’t know each other before sitting down. I welcome them and in a second (not without some concern) I try to figure out the best way to sit them. Sometimes it depends on the dogs they have with them, sometimes it is a matter of the family groups, the children, sometimes it just comes naturally on their part to find a spot and just sit while I bring wine and bread and officially start the dinner.
While I go back and forth to the kitchen I hear that initial silence. In it there is maybe some kind of embarrassment about sharing a dinner and possibly a vacation with “strangers”. I bring the appetisers and I explain the menu for the night and I know at that time that everything will be all right, I am sure about that… Some talks are starting, I hear it, between a sip of wine and a taste of food. People are starting to chat, slowing getting to know each other and the atmosphere becomes gradually very convivial. It is almost like a math equation, probably because of the energy of this hill, of the “limonaia”, of the food I prepare as if it were for my most dear friends. It almost never happens that the guests around the table don’t find some common subjects to talk about and from these common subjects the conversation starts and evolves. Usually by the main first dish the “ice is broken”.
Friday I was thinking about all this, while I was entertaining with the guests to get to know them, after having served the first plate. And at that point Nazareno, a very sweet and gentle man the age of my father, said something that really warmed my heart: “It is nice to be all sitting around the same table. We talk, we get to know each other. Somewhere else you wouldn’t think so easily about starting a conversation with some people sitting on a separate table beside yours”. I smiled inside and out, because it is really true, it is just what I experienced so many time in all these years in which I prepared dinners for the most different people. Almost all the time the people sitting around the same table for dinner start talking with the intention of creating a friendly atmosphere and I look at them and I feel happy.