• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 09

Al Dente

It is still in the old loam kitchen. Sitting with her legs wide apart, Grandma is kneading vigorously dough. Lips compressed tightly, she remains silent as usual. Grandma doesn’t like music. Therefore the radio is turned off too. The only sound is the creaking of the old table beneath the pressure of her floury hands. I watch her quietly. Grandma sprinkles the surface of the table with flour, takes an ancient rolling pin and rolls the dough to an even circle. My gaze follows her old, dry, mealy hands. Though Grandma doesn’t talk much, her hands are magical. I’m sure of that. Her apron is stained. Sometimes she conjures candy out of the pocket of this stained apron. I’m hoping for that. Instead she furls the thin uneven oatcake into a roll. Outside a chicken is cackling, a dog barks somewhere.

I draw myself away from the memory and sit again at the table of a restaurant somewhere in the now. You sit on the opposite side. A band is entertaining the guests with folk music. I look at the perfectly identical noodles on the plate in front of me. They come in various fancy shapes like spirals, little bow ties or shells with dulcet names like farfalle, rigatoni, and conchigli. Ironically they all taste the same. Perfect rubber referred to as “al dente”. I laugh a little joyless laugh contemplating the irony. You raise quizzically your right eyebrow: “What are you thinking of?” I think of Grandma’s noodles, crooked and varying in length. I think of their intense taste. I remember the quiet loam kitchen. I think of the flawless mass produced “al dente” pasta. I think about us. We may not be perfect but we too are too similar, too shockingly similar. A mass production of obedient robots. “Thank you were much, it was delicious!” I reply smiling brightly. Anything else would be disruptive.