I remember…

by Patrick

A young tragic writing teacher I had in college once showed me how to get my pen flowing when I was in a creative rut. You just write “I remember…” followed by whatever memory comes to mind, and you keep going with that memory until it stops, then you start writing “I remember…” again until a new memory pops up.

Convenient method, because today while making cheese I had some good memories. Perhaps it began with Cinderella. As I scrubbed the floor in the dairy, my cheesy colleague Punsi commented that, stooping to labor so low, I resembled the fairytale darling. Cinderello, I edited her.

The mention of that character conjured Disney’s cartoon simulacrum in my imagination – and with that image I was in the realm of my six year-old self, who was growing hungry for a design lunch. This term, I have just confirmed with my big sister via transatlantic SMS, is the name my dad gave to the edible gallimaufry we sometimes made up when I was about that age, from refrigerator flotsam: pickles, olives, leftover cold cuts, cheese, and whatever else was at hand. Design lunches were a happening, I remember, like an indoor picnic. The goals were playfulness and instant comestibility.

After work I made a design lunch for myself: Stayman apple, hot green olives, carrot, our sheep’s milk blue cheese with spicy pineapple mostarda, and bread with butter and jam. It was a great lunch.

Designed and consumed in 16 mins

Which leaves me free to pursue a different memory. It is this: when I was in middle school, the worst thing to be called was a poser. I don’t know if the term is still slanged. It meant one who was fake – an inelegant striver for social stats – and you can imagine what its opposite was: the authentic cool dude.

This comes to mind now because I feel with every little muscle of my being that I am flirting with the authentic life of a cheese maker and a man of earthy means. The art of flirtation must be one of the most egalitarian, requiring only the wit, charm and affection that are available to the humble rustic as much as the beau or belle of high society. And as one of the most widespread arts, I think flirtation must also be one of the most misused.

Flirting with authenticity. I turn the cheeses in the evening, when they are still wet and supple, but firm enough not to break under careful handling. Getting in and out of the walk-in refrigerator where these fresh curds are resting for the night is like trying to sneak into a nursery without waking the babes. The chill air refreshes me and the steady dripping of whey onto the floor or into a bucket lends a laboratorial air that makes me feel like a true professional.

After the dairy and my design lunch I head to garden and plow sheep shit into the beds, and weed, and stretch in the sun, and spread sheep shit under the burgeoning rose bushes. And then I go back into my Etruscan lodgings and again I feel like a pea shoot growing out of a pinch in an old castle wall, alive and green and climbing up the cool world.

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3 Responses to “I remember…”

  1. Ill Hil Says:

    Wow, Pato! What an amazing entry — what flow. So well written. Love it. Keep it up, homeboy. That lunch looks delicious, by the way.
    Baci,
    Hilary

  2. Brad Says:

    Indeed, sir! I’ve missed your thoughtful voice. I agree with the previous commenter. Keep it up, comrade.

  3. valeria Says:

    bellissima l’idea della penna fluttuante e tecnica dell’ “I remember”… per scrivere, l’ho adottata spesso anche io…

    e che bella la foto!
    kiss

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