In love with Peposo

September 5, 2007

Do you agree that if you cook for someone it is a way of showing love? There are many ways to show love. But the feeling can be quite intense when you are crushing garlic, chopping celery, tasting to make sure things are just so, adding spices or herbs and that dash of red wine to a sauce. Whether the gesture is interpreted this way is another thing entirely.

When I was in Italy recently I learnt to make a delicious Tuscan beef stew called Peposo. Our cooking teacher, Ginny introduced us to this recipe as a Tuscan classic. It is slow cooked for two hours in a stock of the classic threesome: tomato, celery and carrot, with Spanish onion, a healthy dose of good quality red wine and black pepper. In fact the recipe for four people calls for three tablespoons of black pepper! Ginny’s comment on the dish (in a thick Italian accent) was:

It is for the men-a. The men-a, they love-a their meat and they love-a their pepper. This dish is for the men-a.

Tonight I cooked Peposo for the first time since I have been back home in Melbourne. Instead of stewing steak, I decided to use beef osso bucco. Osso Bucco is the hub’s all time favorite meat. Kathleen, our eldest, also loves it and like her dad relishes picking out and eating the marrow.

Dinner was slightly later than usual because of the longer cooking time. Poor Sally, who is only seven, has trouble waiting the extra time for her meal.

Mum can I have something to eat? she asked when there was still an hour of cooking time to go.

Oh, OK. Usually I wouldn’t let her eat at that time because it would spoil her meal but made an exception tonight.

Our kitchen is quite tiny – there’s really only room for one person working in it. But Sally is small. She made me smile as she ducked and weaved underneath and around me to fix herself a snack. All the while she sang the song I had playing on the CD player. She has heard my Dido album so often now that she knows all the words to the songs. She sings in tune and has a beautiful voice. Un-selfconsciously she sang:

Listen and think when I say,

Oh listen and think when I say,

Who makes you feel the way that I make you feel?

Who loves you and knows you the way I do?

Who touches you and holds you quite like I do?

Who makes you feel like I make you feel?

Who makes you feel like I make you feel ?

I watched her working away and singing. Her little touch was gentle and soft on me as she moved in and around me whilst I cooked. She made her snack and took it off into the other room and I was left with a lingering feeling of love for my beautiful child.

I do love to cook for my family (and if I cook for you its because I love you too).



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