When my husband celebrated a milestone birthday in Rome several years ago, his closest friends rallied together to produce his dream gift: a meat-slicer and a leg of prosciutto. He displayed the duo on our kitchen counter as if it were a Bulgari choker with matching studs. The color of a vintage-red Ferrari, this machine made him feel grown up and as close to the chef he would like to be while still working as a diplomat. Our dog often sat under the counter, drooling in anticipation for what it could deliver. My husband loved offering slices of prosciutto with a glass of prosecco to whomever might stop by.
Five days after he received the gift in Rome, we learned we were being sent to San Francisco for our next posting. After the shock and excitement of a new posting wore off, we started considering our move and what appliances and furniture we would ship to California. As we went down the list, my husband’s face fell, and he turned as white as a slab of Lardo di Colonnata.
“L’affettatrice!” he shrieked, and ran towards the new slicer and caressed it as if it were a newborn about to leave the nursery.
Fearing the voltage would not work in America, I suggested we leave the slicer behind in our storage bin in Italy.
“It’s coming with us,” he snipped. “We will make it work.”
As is often the case in achieving matrimonial harmony, we agreed to disagree.
It eventually arrived with us in California. Despite all efforts of converters and transformers, it sliced prosciutto with the speed of a carbon-copy machine with mimeographed paper. You could hear the motor grumble in embarrassment as it barely revved itself up to a macho groan. It sat on our American kitchen counter and gathered dust.
One day at the forge in downtown San Francisco, where my husband ate a fresh plate of pasta with his dear friend Angelo Garro, he solemnly confessed his birthday-gift story of the machine that no longer worked.
A week later, Angelo showed up at our apartment with Emilio, an Italian salesman of upscale prosciutto slicers with great sympathy for our dilemma. Each donning a Cuban hat, oversized tortoise shell glasses, and a three-piece suit with a silk scarf in their lapel, they whisked the machine away like Laurel and Hardy on Operazione Prosciutto.
A week later, with huge smiles, they returned our prosciutto slicer.
“Ha un nuovo cuore!” they chimed in unison after its successful heart transplant.
From that day, it ran proudly on its American motor. Next to it sat a box the size of a slice of wedding-cake that contains its Italian motor. Right before we left California for our move back to Italy a year ago, we arranged for its reverse transplant.
Back in Rome, it works again. Our dog has reassumed her position of security guard next to its parking spot on the kitchen counter, and my husband offers slices of bresaola, prosciutto and salame to any guests interested.
We all have those objects we can’t live without, which we carry around the world despite the challenges of space, weight, size, and voltage. Those objects which make a house feel like a home. While mine would be our piano, my husband cherishes the machine that fills his heart with food.
As we move around, we feel like our prosciutto slicer. After living in California for five years, we both run on an American and an Italian motor. The friends we make around the world help us with our transplants, keep our motors running, and treat our heartache whenever necessary.
Home may be where your heart is — but what if your heart is split between two places? It’s something we often think about — over crostini di prosciutto.
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Non ho mai visto questa meraviglia. Passerò presto a vederla e a farmi offrire una fetta di prosciutto con Zabi..
Angelo!WE know him through SANDRO...........
I would imagine your martito knows him?
I have been saving your posts to read and I best do that soon!!
CIAO A ROMA..........my husband is from there.