Writer Talk

Shelley Margosian Stack

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The Pleasure and Sadness of Pastina

A few days ago, I opened my fridge and stood there, hoping that one of the gifted chefs on the Food Channel had left a few ready-made wonderful meals in there for me. I hadn’t been food shopping, and there was absolutely nothing appealing to eat for lunch.

Fourteen month-old Caroline, was having pastina. In desperation, so did I. I made it al dente, and dressed it with finely chopped flat leaf parsley, whipped butter and romano cheese. It pleased Caroline and it pleased me . . . until the sadness hit.

When I was little, and sick, home from school, in my bed or on the couch in front of the television, my mother made pastina for me. It was comfort food. It was my mother’s way of making me feel better. She would moisten it with chicken broth, dot it with butter, and heap mountains of parmesan on top. It soothed my throat. and warmed my stomach. I loved it and when my own girls were little, I did the same for them when they were sick, as she did for me.

My mother died three years ago, suddenly, with no warning. The three years since have been full of remembering, and many moments of sadness. The other day, at lunch, pastina brought another. I vividly missed the mother of my childhood, and being the recipient of a mother’s love for her child. Other loves in life are wonderful, but there is something that words cannot sufficiently describe about feeling a mother’s love.

For a few minutes, eating pastina, I felt it again.