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Santina and the spatulas

October 21st, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Santina is a cousin by marriage. She was born in Sellia Marina and now lives in Sersale, where she was recently widowed. She has a heart of gold, is a little shy, but kind, hard working, and modest. On this last visit, I stayed with her at her house and she shared her daily routines with me. I learned how she makes minestra this time, delicious!


Every time I go to Italy, I bring some little gifts to give to the women of the houses I visit. In the past, I’ve brought food, oven mitts, and other kitchen stuff. Last time when I brought heart shaped oven mitts, there were not enough to go around, so when I got home I had to mail a couple more back to Italy.

This summer, I bought 32 kitchen towels for my September trip. I figured I could give two per person, or if things got tight, I could still give people one each. You never know.

So it was about one week before my departure date when one of my little teenaged Facebook cousin-friends from Sersale sent me a message. This was Ilenia, the granddaughter of Santina. She asked;
“My grandmother wants to know if you can bring more of those wooden spoons”
“Wooden spoons??” I wondered,
“Oh wait, you mean those silicone spatulas?”
“Yes yes, those!”
I was very happy to finally get some feedback about what they wanted, it always feels like a shot in the dark.
So as soon as I could, I took all those hand towels back to Target and looked for silicon spatulas. We actually bought all that they had, about 15 I think, all different colors, with two of them being the smaller size.

When I arrived in Sersale, I stayed at Santina’s house. Since she was the one who requested the spatulas, I pulled out a few right away, and I gave her a small one to match the big one I had given her a few years earlier, which she truly cherishes. She told me every time she uses it she thinks of me!
She asked my if I had any more, and I responded “Yes, yes, don’t worry.”

So when Mafalda came over,  I ran and got her a spatula. Santina saw what I was doing and asked: “are you going to save one for Annina?” (Annina is the cousin who later made me Sersalese pasta from scratch, called ‘mparetati)
“Oh yes, don’t worry.”
So when I also took one out for Silvana (daughter of Tommaso Stonato) she looked worried again. You see, I never showed her how many I had. Once again, I told her not to worry, I even had one for her son Daniele’s girlfriend…
I made the rounds, her daughters each got one, Teresa Riccio got one… When I left Sersale, everyone who fed me received a spatula! I had three left, one for Elena Verdolini, and a matching set of two white ones for Lucia in Naples, who is one of the best cooks in the world.
And of course Annina got hers too.
I have no idea what to give my male cousins. Anyone have any ideas?

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  1. Mimi
    November 3rd, 2010 at 19:29 | #1

    Glad everyone liked this story!

  2. October 25th, 2010 at 14:29 | #2

    Well, If your male cousins are anything like my husband, Gastone, the spatulas might work for them too.

    My husband is a great cook (learned from his Mom) and loves all the kitchen gadgets he can find. I used to cook when we first married, but after all of these years, he has totally taken over. Hey- I’m no fool. I love to eat!!!

    By the way THIS is a fabulous portrait!!! Full of character and you feel like you can get to know this woman just from the wonderfully expressive portrait you did of her!! Hard to believe it’s watercolor, which I think is a gazillion times more difficult to master than oil.

  3. Mari
    October 25th, 2010 at 08:54 | #3

    Thank you for the wonderful spatula story!

  4. Antonella M
    October 23rd, 2010 at 17:28 | #4

    For the men, get microfiber cloths. So they can wash their cars. It’s their silicon spatulas.

  5. jeannine
    October 23rd, 2010 at 12:13 | #5

    Italian men don’t cook? What about all those hunky chefs in the pasta commercials?

  6. Trica
    October 23rd, 2010 at 05:55 | #6

    Her face is so expressive. I’m so impressed with your ability to capture facial expressions! Sorry, don’t have any ideas for male gifts. Something electronic?

  7. Esmeralda Mudd
    October 22nd, 2010 at 21:51 | #7

    Com’e carina la storia!

    The men don’t cook for you — no need to gift them!
    Loved the painting she seems full of life!

  8. October 22nd, 2010 at 07:21 | #8

    Excellent portrait, wonderful story, Mimi!

  1. November 2nd, 2010 at 17:19 | #1