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

    by Flora Mitidiero Raehl

    I'll tell you everyone else I met but keep in mind these are all phonetic spellings and they all have a story behind them, some I know and others a mystery.  Ready???  Carmen Rata Cas (Carmen grated cheese, because every time you saw him, that's what he was doing); Rosina Macarrona-self explanatory; Pepine u Prosper; Pepine u Schmick, Shep u Russ (the only guy in town with red hair); Vincenzo Chubeline (he loved onions) and Shep Inyez.  These are all people my father either grew up with or is related to.  

    Not much besides working and eating seems to happen in this town tucked away in the mountainside of Il Polino, so when the "Americans" arrive, it's a big deal and they all want to see you.  My dad left his hometown to come to America when he was 21 years old - he's lived in America longer than in Italy - so he's considered the American.  The funny thing is, when we are in America all he does is speak Italian; now we're in Italy and his English is so articulate, but I digress. 

    We walked the little streets of this village and every once in a while my dad would stop in front of a door or a church and tell me about something that happened there - which house he was born in, the spot his father caught him smoking a cigarette when he was seven,  where he learned to be a carpenter, the church steps he and his friends sat on watching all the grownups taking their passeggiatta.  Each story lit his face up a little brighter and it's a time with my dad I won't soon forget because it's a side of him I don't often see. 

    We finally make it back home and my son says "Comare Bette brought something for you, it's in the fridge".  Oh and by the way, the refrigerator is about the size of a dorm room fridge, which my mom and dad bought the first time we came to Italy in 1972-I told you not much changed.  So I open the fridge, and there is a blue bowl with a handkerchief over it.   I take the bowl out, remove the hanky and there in all its glory is a fully skinned, intact rabbit, head, eyes and all, staring at me.  My dad says "Wow" almost salivating, and all I'm thinking is, this isn't taking care of it, who's going to cut this thing up and how am I going to eat it after looking at those beady eyes?  But I take a knife and do my best butcher routine, trying not to gag or cut off one of my fingers in the process. 

    In the meantime, Comare Bette yells from her balcony to mine that if we're not going to eat the head (ARE YOU KIDDING ME????) save it for her, she'll give it to her dogs.  I start my spaghetti gravy, toss in the rabbit and hope I cleaned it right, cut it right, and that we don't get some kind of disease.  I mean, it's not like I bought it at the grocery store and it's USDA approved or anything.  Ultimately, the gravy turned out great, Tom and I ate the rabbit, and Peppy - well he wouldn't touch it.

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    Photos copyright © Flora Mitidiero Raehl

    Article Published 10/26/10

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