Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy

Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy

Paula Butturini

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 1594488975

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A story of food and love, injury and healing, Keeping the Feast is the triumphant memoir of one couple's nourishment and restoration in Italy after a period of tragedy, and the extraordinary sustaining powers of food, family, and friendship.

Paula and John met in Italy, fell in love, and four years later, married in Rome. But less than a month after the wedding, tragedy struck. They had transferred from their Italian paradise to Warsaw and while reporting on an uprising in Romania, John was shot and nearly killed by sniper fire. Although he recovered from his physical wounds in less than a year, the process of healing had just begun. Unable to regain his equilibrium, he sank into a deep sadness that reverberated throughout their relationship. It was the abrupt end of what they'd known together, and the beginning of a new phase of life neither had planned for. All of a sudden, Paula was forced to reexamine her marriage, her husband, and herself.

Paula began to reconsider all of her previous assumptions about healing. She discovered that sometimes patience can be a vice, anger a virtue. That sometimes it is vital to make demands of the sick, that they show signs of getting better. And she rediscovered the importance of the most fundamental of human rituals: the daily sharing of food around the family table.

A universal story of hope and healing, Keeping the Feast is an account of one couple's triumph over tragedy and illness, and a celebration of the simple rituals of life, even during the worst life crises. Beautifully written and tremendously moving, Paula's story is a testament to the extraordinary sustaining powers of food and love, and to the stubborn belief that there is always an afterward, there is always hope.

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suddenly dangerously ill. A toddler in yellow pajamas is an unlikely savior, but even at the age of nine I knew Danny had saved me. He kept me from being an only child, took half my mother’s heat. Unlike me, he was unfailingly good-natured and kept our mother too busy to brood. His mouth seemed permanently set in a wide grin, and he had the kind of dark-haired, long-lashed beauty so arresting that housewives pushing their carts through the A&P would stop my mother, a stranger, in the aisles to

and take care of you because your mother couldn’t.” Her simple explanation, uttered with empathy and kindness, hit me hard after I hung up. My mother had spoken of these illnesses to me only once; my aunt and grandmother never. Each of them, in her own way, was good with secrets. My mother’s friends knew little if anything about it, and though a few may have known she had had some unidentified “problems” with childbirth, all of them seemed to have bought the picture she presented to the world: a

wooden shelves lining the Campo’s bread shop would already be full: crusty round pagnotte, long filoni, flat ciabatte, slim francesi, and puffy rosette, the standard lunch rolls that look like full-blown cabbage roses and come with a giant air pocket inside, to stuff with salami or cheese or a slice of grilled eggplant. The Campo’s bakery is usually seething with customers, the most fanatic of whom may push their way in and out of the tiny shop twice a day to ensure a meal with just-baked bread.

with the most pitiful story and the most copious tears won the crown and the fur-trimmed robes. She won the long-stemmed roses, and maybe a refrigerator or some big cash prize. Under the crown and the robe, the winners would sob and laugh, cry and dissolve before the whirring camera. I watched that show with horror as a child, seeing grown-up terrors of loss and suffering paraded across the little octagonal screen of our first television set. It was a peculiar show for its time, oddly

her own children had eaten; how my grandmother Jennie’s good-hearted cousins, the Romanos, used to slip the brothers food from their tiny grocery, basically keeping them alive. I’ve always wondered how much of a role gratitude played in Tony’s decision to ask my grandmother to marry him, when she was only fifteen; I’ll always wonder what provoked Tony’s own descent into depression when he was already the father of two. All that has filtered down through the family’s web of secrets was that he was

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