Girl Talk

Coffee Date

heartAfter batting around a few impersonal emails with an on-line dating prospect, the coffee date is what you do.  It may seem old-fashioned, but I miss the blind date.  There you had a genuine connection.  A good friend would fix you up with her husband’s old college roommate.  Two things were guaranteed: someone who knows you and knows him thought you might just hit it off – and he’s not a sociopath.  Even if you didn’t find your soulmate, it was safe to let your guard down, and maybe even enjoy yourself.  Not so with the coffee date.

We met after work at Starbuck’s.  From our emailing, I knew he was a financial analyst and although I didn’t know his last name, that he was Italian-American like me.  I was hoping for a Renaissance man…

My date was tall and attractive in his charcoal gray suit.  And he was all business.  After we sat down with our coffee, what I can only describe as my interview commenced:

“So you mentioned that you like to cook,” he began.

“Well yes, I do.”

“You make your own tomato sauce?” he prompted me.

“Ah huh.”

Then he fired off a series of follow-up questions:

“What do you put in it?  Do you slow cook it?  How do you make your eggplant parm?  You do make eggplant parm, don’t you?  And stuffed artichokes?  What about steak pizzaiola?”

I was on a job interview all right, and the job under consideration was wife.  Turning the tables was tempting.

“How are you with plumbing and electrical work?  Can you unclog a sink?  Install a ceiling fan?  Do you do your own house painting?”  I could ask.

But I didn’t.  I knew he wouldn’t get it.  Instead I just smiled and sipped my latte.

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Zitella's Favorite Recipes

Soup’s On


The weather has finally shifted and the dry, crisp autumn air means it’s time to dig out my stock pot.  Nothing’s better than putting up a pot of soup on a Saturday morning.  You can enjoy it over the weekend and still have some left over for the work week.  I have several “go to” soup recipes that are easy, healthful, and freeze well.  One was given to me by a friend; another I found in a magazine.  But my spinach soup recipe comes from the first cookbook I ever bought, The Regional Italian Kitchen by Nika Hazelton.

I’d just gotten my first place on my own.  The apartment was a studio with a galley kitchen smaller than the average bathroom. There was barely enough room for my dishes, let alone for a cookbook, so it got wedged between two college texts on a book shelf in the main room.

That was a long time ago.  Now la cucina has a dedicated bookcase for my ever-growing collection of cookbooks.  Yet The Regional Italian Kitchen remains one of my most frequently used cookbooks, just as the spinach soup remains one of my all-time favorite recipes.  This flavorful soup can stand alone, or you can add a small chewy pasta like orzo or ditalini.

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