Give a little love

Seven days is not so long, but long enough to make friends forever, and so it happens time and time again when I go to Italy to teach. People arrive whom I have never met before and whom I may never see again, but in those seven days, we connect, and I learn from them in those seven days more than I could ever hope to give.
One of my girlfriends here at home is struggling. In a big, big way, and she is not someone whom I know very well, which can put a person in that awkard situation of how do you help? Is it right for me to call and ask if there is anything I can do, when maybe she has had enough phone calls in the day and might not be in the mood to talk to someone she doesn’t know so well, and maybe it would be better if I just left her alone? Except I remembered my girlfriends from the military bases in my cooking class, who are always on the move, never living anywhere long enough to have ancient friends living next door, talking about cooking and caring and taking on somebody else’s kids whom they may have met minutes ago, because that’s what they do. And I thought to myself, how are we over here in my little neighborhood in NYC any different? Are we not all in it together? And so risking bad manners, which are nearly always worth risking anyways, I called and asked if I couldn’t bring her some groceries and when she said yes, I was overjoyed. And because I was there delivering the groceries, she had the opportunity to ask me did I know anyone who might be able to cook for her. I called another friend of mine whom I knew was in the same predicament of not wanting to get in the way, but wanting to do something if she could, and said, “I have found what we can do”. We have worked out between us to deliver a little homemade food four times a week that we will make with the love in our hearts and the hope to make a moment of her day a little brighter as long as she may need it. We are starting today, and I just want to say thank you to all of those girls out there who have taught me so much and given me the courage to give.
I’m starting her on the soup you all know. A little soffritto of carrot (1 lb.), onion (2) and celery (the inside stalks of one head) with a little salt and good pour of olive oil, cooked until it is almost too good not to eat on its own before it makes it to the soup (about 30 minutes). Then 3/4 lb. cannellini soaked overnight and then simmered with another spill of olive oil, a sprig of thyme and salt to taste, until the beans are tender. When the beans are done, smash half and add all to the vegetables with enough liquid to make a thick soup. Pour on a drizzle of your best olive oil and serve with shavings of parmesan. On the side I’ll make escarole, simmered together with slivered garlic that I have made golden. Add a little olive oil at the end and salt and red pepper flakes to taste.

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