I switch his nightlight off and carry my laptop from my desk to the open space dining room/kitchen down the hall. God bless wi-fi.
The lights are dim, and another sound has added on to my all-natural musak. It's the minestrone simmering on the stove. I uncork a perfect bottle of Sassoalloro 2006, slide into a pair of tattered jeans and smile as my glasses fog up with the heavenly vapors spiraling from the bubbling pot.
Were it not for the spectacular double-rimmed rainbow embracing the centro storico this afternoon, the kiddie party was the usual agglomerate of frantic moms, scattered dads with iPhones taking silly pictures of their own kids, and the occasional bejewelled wealthy granny. I've grown accustomed to the whole Italian toddler birthday celebration routine. The miked clown, the balding magician with the wrap around hair, the overly loud salsa music and the groaning soap bubble machine. As usual at these events, I couldn't keep my hands off the silver dollar-sized mini pizzas, single bite croissant sandwiches with prosciutto and bufala, the lobster vol-au-vents. The venue was a guaranteed four star buffet, Antonini's canapées are rarely a disappointment. E. is tired, shy and wants more soda. The cake isn't anywhere in sight. We resist, if nothing out of curiosity.
With E's little hand firmly clasped to the hem of my vintage frock (that and my kajal eye make up got quite a few disapproving glances form Mink Coat Grandma #1 and Cashmere Mommy #9), I down a flute of warm Berlucchi, grab our coats and pack up the phallic sword partyfavor produced by the pimply balloon twister, a handful of lemon flavored gelatins and we're outta there. E. fell asleep in the car coming home, and carrying his limp 15-kilo body, umbrella, handbag, balloons, candy etc was no piece of cake, but I managed it. I always do.
So now, in the warmth of our 2-room apartment, the silence and the comfort of the simplicity I'm about to dine on are a panacea for my bleeding eardrums and upset soul.
If you've had a similar day and 20 minutes on your hands, assemble:
2 quarts of bouillon (ok you can cheat and make it with a stock cube)
OPTIONAL: 1 cup prosciutto cotto (regular deli ham), diced
1 1/4 cups fresh spinach, stems removed
2 fresh zucchini, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp pesto sauce
1 1/2 cups tubetti-type pasta
2 tbsp brandy
1 cup baby peas
Extra virgin olive oil
Profuse amounts of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil
Bring the stock to a rolling boil in a large high-rimmed stew pot. Add the garlic, spinach, zucchini, onion and prosciutto (if you're using it) and simmer over mild heat for 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook it just shy of al dente (springy yet retaining some bite). Stir in the brandy, pesto sauce, and the peas until it's all well amalgamated and the liquid almost completely absorbed (I like my minestra quite thick). Drizzle a thread of olive oil and remove the pot from the stove. Dust with lots of grated Parmigiano and serve piping hot.
The rain's subsided somewhat. I sip the wine. I hit publish.