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  • What's For Dinner Silly Rabbit?
    Page 1 of 2

    by Flora Mitidiero Raehl

    Ciao amici — we've come down the mountain back to the city with all its conveniences and I couldn't be happier - or could I? We left the city last Tuesday for an extended stay in my father's hometown of Alessandria del Carretto. For those of you who are not familiar with this town it is a comune located in the province of Cosenza in the region of Calabria. this It's a town that I'm told was established sometime in the 1600's and believe me, it doesn't feel or look like much has changed since then.

    The house my dad grew up in is three small rooms, a kitchen with a fireplace for heat and a propane tank for cooking, one bedroom and a dining room, with an additional bed in it. Tom and my dad share the bedroom, I sleep in the dining room. The bathroom is a toilet with a sink the size of one in a dentist's office. Oh and did I mention no hot water, and if you want to flush you have to throw a bucket of water into the toilet. Thank goodness for extended family and friends, they've upgraded to showers and were more than willing to hand over house keys to me. This city girl is at such a disadvantage, but I knew this going in so I'll make the best of it while I'm here.

    The first day we arrived, people were actually waiting for us - with gifts. Gifts you say? I tell you, no one is more proud of their wares than these country people. We were given lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, oranges, lemons, garlic, basil and oregano all home grown from their own land and happily given to us as a welcoming gesture. You see, if they don't grow it or kill it themselves, they don't eat it.

    The lady who lives "across the street" Comare Bette, (across the street is literally an arms stretch away from us), told me, with the biggest smile I've ever seen, she would bring over something very special for us for dinner - coniglio - or rabbit as you know it. Meat is a tight commodity to these people and for them to give it away is a huge sacrifice and an honor for us to receive. She assured me she would take care of everything and all I had to do was cook it. Not typical American fare but we've eaten it before.

    Dad and I go out for a walk and it was just amazing. Can you imagine what it would be like to walk the cobbled streets of your ancestors, seeing all that they saw ages ago and then see and talk to everyone you grew up with? I think my dad may have thought he'd gone to heaven. We had a destination but we sure didn't give ourselves enough time to get there because at every door step people were stopping us to talk and inviting us in. Of course, you cannot refuse so in the span of about an hour we probably had six cups of coffee and more brioss than anyone can consume, but you can't be rude.

    Along the way I met some very interesting people, each of whom wanted to reminisce with my dad. Since this is such a small town there are only about six different last names-Covelli, Gatto, Arvia, Mitidieri, Napoli and Adduci; most of the first names are either Giuseppe, Pasquale, Alessandro, Domenico, Vincenzo; and practically everyone is related in one way or another, so people are given some very clever nicknames to distinguish them from the next guy with the same name. Incidentally, to date, I've already met four additional Peppy Mitidieros.

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    Article Published 10/26/10

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