By Emanuele Stefanori & Michela Guida, translated into English by Ruth Stephens
Chapter 8 – The Three Meatballs
More than a month has passed since that unforgettable evening. It’s ten o’clock in the morning and Carla has just arrived at the restaurant.
“Where’s Chiara? In the kitchen already?” she asks her husband.
Oreste is standing by the old chimney, positioning a small frame beside the old notebook containing his grandmother’s recipes.
“I’d like to put it here, what do you think?” he asks his wife.
Inside the frame is the Buon Appetito Guide’s certificate, just arrived this morning, with the long coveted Three Meatballs award. Now Da Ettore is no longer a simple country trattoria, but a restaurant, known and appreciated at national level!
But many other things have changed in that brief period of time. While Stefano has settled in New York and started his Masters in photography, Chiara has established herself as chef in his place.
“Here… Tell me what you think of this…” says Chiara to her father as he enters the kitchen. After that evening, she had explained, to his great surprise, that she had been the one behind responsible for the modernizing the traditional dishes that had been on the menu for so many years.
In fact, of the two children, it was Chiara who had always had a great passion for cooking and a truly creative mind, though Stefano had executed her new recipes to perfection.
Oreste takes a teaspoon and, standing beside his daughter in front of the stove, samples a little of the sauce from the pan.
”You like it? It’s a new ragù that I thought I’d put on today’s menu.”
“I see. So I’m going to have to rewrite the speciality of the day!” he laughed. Giving her a kiss on the cheek, he leaves the kitchen and crosses the dining room. His wife is putting the finishing touches to the table she is laying near the door.
“How could we not have known anything about all this for so long?” he asks her.
“Perhaps we were too focused on our own goals to think about theirs?” she suggests.
At first it had been hard for Oreste to accept the new reality, as he had pinned all his hopes on his son. But at the same time he had always been conscious of having a particular bond with Chiara. Working with her, he felt an intense affinity between them.
So, over this past month, observing his daughter’s confidence in her new role as chef, he has often regretted not being more attentive to those feelings instead of being so set on continuing the family tradition.
“Do you think we’ve been bad parents?” he asked Carla, not for the first time.
“I don’t know, I hope not. But certainly they’ve been excellent children. And it’s wonderful now to see them both so happy and satisfied with their lives. And that’s what matters, don’t you think?”
“Yes,” agrees Oreste, opening the door.
“By the way,” adds Carla, in a more businesslike tone, “Now that Chiara’s working in the kitchen, isn’t it time you thought about taking on a new waitress?”
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