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Pasta and Poetry

February 5, 2020


One Bowl of Pasta and Poetry


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa


In the first kitchen of my Aunt Zita’s Italian restaurant and on the work table to the left of the largest stove was always one long cardboard box at the end of which was a colorful label that proclaimed the contents as vermicelli–pasta that is thinner than spaghetti. While we may most often say “spaghetti,” I do prefer the more flavorful vermicelli. (To read the menu of Binole’s Restaurant, please refer to my WORDWALK blogs of August 7 and August 14 of last year.) Even thinner than vermicelli pasta is fedelini–my favorite of these pastas. Although my family always referred to this pasta as “fedelini,” today this very thin pasta is more often called “angel-hair pasta.” In Italian, “fedelini” means “little faithful ones.” Well, I am faithful to pasta, poetry, my Italian-American heritage, and my dad. On this chilly February night, I hope that you will enjoy the following “pasta poem.”



Pas de Deux with Perfection


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa



With slippered feet on Wisconsin floor,

I stand before the kitchen sink

With vein-striped hands in sudsy water

and warm memories.

I think of Hoosier days

When I daily danced

A Pas de Deux with Perfection.


On the Fridays of my Blanford youth,

When Mother did not pour batter onto the hot waffle iron,

When Dad did not fry rectangles of fish,

When we did not make pimento-cheese spread,

My six-foot-one-inch dad

Stood with perfect posture In front of the stove

and made fidelini soup–

Milk soup–my favorite.

With wooden spoon in his hand,

My dad stirred the fedelini into the milk,

Coming to nearly a soft boil

In the pot of the pressure cooker–

In that Indiana kitchen

Where he taught me how to cook,

How to live,

How to respect my country and my family,

How to cope with an ever-changing

And ever-challenging world.


Around our kitchen table,

We sat, talked, and

Broke Italian breadsticks into milky white soup

With the favored fedelini.

This was home, comfort, love.

This was my dad with the dancing heart and twinkling eyes.


For almost five decades,

I danced a Pas de Deux with Perfection.

Now, I dance a Pas de Deux with memories–memories of the perfect dad for me.


* * *


God bless America–the new homeland of my grandparents and my forever heartland!

God bless America–and Brigadier General Charles E. McGee and his great-grandson Ian!


Alice and Leader Dog Willow


February 5, 2020, Wednesday



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  1. joanmyles permalink

    A lovely tribute to your upbringing, and especially your father, Alice, thank you for sharing! My favorite pasta is angel hair, by the way, and now I know it’s true name. Blessings and love to you! *rainbows**pawprints in snow*

    • Hi, Joan–Many thanks for reading this post and sharing such a nice comment.

      Enjoy the fidelini!

      Take care–Alice and Willow

  2. Oh, Alice, in my memories I can see that pressure cooker pot filled with milk and fedelini boiling on the stove in our Blanford kitchen! Not being much of a milk-drinker, I was not as fond of this soup as you were, but I did enjoy it with the delicious breadsticks made in nearby Clinton by our cousins Martin and Dina Comba. With Ash Wednesday just three weeks away, I remember having that meatless soup for supper on many Fridays as well as on Ash Wednesday. Thank you for recreating this special scene from our early years.
    Love to you and Willow,

    • Good evening, Mary–You are welcome!  The Indiana memories are treasured ones to hold and to share.

      Enjoy the weekend–Alice and Willow

  3. Hi Alice,
    What a comforting picture this poem paints in addition to being a lovely tribute to your dad.
    Interestingly, we had a version of this type of soup, but ours was made with rice in the milky base and not much more than salt and pepper for seasoning. It was a very simple meal but one of my favorites.

    It’s a snowy day in Monroe after a bit of ice last night so no school today for the local kids. I hope you and Willow are beginning to find the tiniest hints of warmer weather on your daily walks. Our winter aconites are beginning to push up through the mulch and should bloom by the end of the month. Their sunny yellow blooms are always a treat.


    • Good evening, Fran–Until reading your note, I had not recalled that on a very rare occasion, we did substitute rice for fidelini.  My paternal grandmother may have made the milk soup with the rice–at least at times.  Like your family, we only seasoned the soup with salt and possibly a little touch of pepper.  Good Italian breadsticks were certainly key to the enjoyable meal.  Since we always used whole milk, Dad used one-fourth water to three-fourths milk or a one-third to two-thirds ratio; however, with our now using two-percent or even one-percent milk, I think watering down the milk would no longer be necessary.  So glad to know that your family also enjoyed this simple, but tasty meal.

         Your soon-to-come flowers sound like an enormous treat.  The snow went south of us, so we only received a coating of salt in some places.

         Willow and I are fine and hope that you and your family are also.

      Many thanks for your comment–Alice and Willow

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