The Secret To Meatballs is Connection

I’m working on a piece for International Women’s Day (coming up March 8th). I’ve been asked to write a memoir essay on a woman who encouraged or inspired me growing up, who taught me patience and self-love and brought me into womanhood. I’ve chosen to write an essay about the time I visited my grandmother in Italy. At that point, I had been traveling around the world for almost five years, searching for understanding and meaning. I had come to Italy on a break from all that. Little did I know, this would be where I found what I had been looking for all along.

Here’s a little excerpt from the story I’m working on-

“The secret to making meatballs is connection”, my grandmother smiled as she showed me how to cup my hands just right, how to softly roll the ball between my palms.

My grandmother didn’t realize she was teaching me anything more than how to make meatballs and risotto and fresh pasta, but in the midst of all that we taught each other so much more. My time in Italy cupping meatballs between my young hands- that’s where I finally connected to my body. Spending hours rolling out pasta and stirring risotto- that’s where I developed my patience. And learning our century old family recipes…well, that’s where I finally learned what love is.

My grandmother laid out all the ingredients for the meatballs on the table. She began revealing secrets, passed down from her grandmother.

“It’s about time you learn this” She spoke with passion.

“You have to get your hands dirty”

Every sentence she said seemed to have a double meaning, a deeper meaning, a life lesson. I listened intently. My body was stiff with concentration. I held the mixture of cheese and ground meat and bread crumbs between my palms.

“Slow down.”

I took a deep breath and unlocked my knees. I felt the stress from my past few weeks melt out of my shoulders.

“You can’t rush, you have to connect with your body, find the shape, don’t push too hard”

I could hear my breath beneath the hum of the fridge. I slowed down, my stomach relaxed.

“It’s not just in your hands”

I felt the wet ingredients against my palms, in the crooks of my fingers. The beat of my heart slowly permeated through my chest. I closed my eyes. My neck straightened as I grew two inches.

We made meatballs all afternoon and then slow boiled them in tomato sauce. The mouth-watering smell of the combined ingredients drifted out into the garden where we sat in anticipation until it was time for dinner…

6 thoughts on “The Secret To Meatballs is Connection

  1. So surprised to see the picture of you with your grandmother, my Aunt Josie. Brings back many fond memories of when she was teaching me some of her cooking secrets. Love your stories, keep them coming. Your cousin, Diane

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful story Riva. You made me realize that if I closed my eyes I could still taste her lasagna!! Nana Josie was a lovely warm woman…..


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