We left off at the death of my beloved father in law. We were all heartbroken, and things happen so fast when someone in your family dies. The day he died, we had to get with a mortician, grave yard for a plot, granite for headstone. I prefer the method that my husbands’ family utilize instead of my own family. His family bury the dead in three days. My own family uses the 10 day method, or at least it feels that way.
Anyway, the rush was crazy. None of us had ever been in the position to do all these things. We just did what had to be done. It was like an our of body experience on so many levels. No one talked for hours at a time. Cesarina was with us most of the time, and our time in the minivan was so quiet until…Cesarina farted. OMG! We all started busting out laughing. She said “Giuseppe would laugh at that too”. I mean really, it was so unexpected, and it was so loud. I can’t even think about that moment with a smile on my face.
When the headstone finally got put on the grave plot, we all went to see it. Roberto cleaned it, and we all released balloons on the hill. It was a beautiful day. My kids still remember it to this day.
We went to Cesariana’s house for dinner, and while polenta was on the stove, she had me read an article. One that was in Italian. She came into the family room with her wooded spoon, and asks me “Did you understand the article?” Yes, I answered. A mother in law in Italy purchased a daughter in law a grave plot. She said, Yes, you are right. I asked her why would she want me to read an article like that on such a somber day. Well, she said, I wanted to remind myself that I purchased a grave plot for you. Me? Bewildered, I asked the whole question…You purchased a plot for me? Yes, she said, and came back into the family room. Then told me “I purchased a grave plot for you, since you will be the next one in the family to die.” Wow! You believe I am going to die? Well, she said, I have great genes, and Roberto has my genes, so he isn’t going to die anytime soon either. Honestly, I just didn’t know how to react to this.
She told me, this is just the Italian way, that’s why I wanted you to read the article. This way you see that I am not the only Italian mother in law that has purchased a plot for their daughter in law.
I could barely eat that night, thinking…geez, maybe I should watch everything she puts around my food, just in case she wants to use the grave plot before hand. Just in case you want to try her polenta, here is her method for cooking it…
There are several ways to serve polenta, but Cesarina preferred to serve it soft. As she told me many, many, many times “Don’t be afraid to experiment.” People have been changing recipes since the beginning of time. Add what you like, and whatever you don’t like, don’t add. She also told me “You Americans like to make everything so complicated.” If you don’t have something…substitute it. Oh, believe me, then it would go into a whole crazy dramatic episode about Americans. I’ll save you from all that, and just give you the recipe she made most of the time 😉
What are you going to need…
Wire whisk (they work wonders from keeping it from getting clumped), I will tell you a long handled wooded spoon works great too.
1 cup of coarse cornmeal 2 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of fine cornmeal 1/2 cup of freshly ground Parmigiana cheese
1 tablespoon of salt
Bring 9 cups of water to a boil in a very large pot. Add the salt as soon as it comes to a boil. Add the cornmeal one handful at a time, and stir constantly. Once all the cornmeal has been added reduce the heat to simmer, and the consistency should look like a volcano…bubbling. Make sure your stirring all around the pot…scrapping the sides, and going across the bottom of the pot. It usually takes about 40 to 45 minutes of cooking on the stove. Now, you’re going to add the butter and cheese, which will give it a smooth creamy finish. It makes a great side dish for fish or chicken.