Memories over the Moon…

This was no ordinary summer’s day.  Well, I suppose for anyone living under a rock, today could have been like any other hot, humid Sunday in July.

But today was different.

Today, lives would change forever and the future would suddenly be thrust into the present time.

Sure, our bustling Brooklyn neighborhood looked the same, but after today, everything and everyone would change.

Nonetheless, things didn’t seem any different at our house.

Since it was Sunday, Mamma was frying up eggplants in the kitchen. That familiar heavenly scent wafting down the hallway was a reminder that dinner was almost ready.

Just then and like clockwork, I heard the “L” train rattling noisily on the elevated tracks in front of our apartment. Papa huffed and turned up the TV in order to drown out this city sound, just like he always did with a grumble.

I looked out the window, watching the silver subway car speed by.  I thought of all those passengers inside who were racing home to witness history in the making.

As I let my imagination run away with me, I noticed dark gray clouds on the horizon, seen through to the narrow space carved between the buildings across the street.

From the kitchen, Mamma must have noticed the same ominous sky.

She yelled out to me, “Joseph, hurry and go shut my bedroom window.  A storm’s coming.”

Teresa had been practicing piano in the basement but upon hearing the muffled sound of my footsteps quickly crossing the living room floor,  she quit tinkering and ran up the stairs, in an excited flurry of commotion.

“Are they on yet?” Teresa breathlessly inquired, while craning her neck towards the TV.

Papa muttered something and went back to reading his newspaper.  Teresa, seemingly content to have understood his inaudible reply, bounded off to the kitchen to grab the first piece of crispy, golden eggplant, hot from the pan.

Mamma soon appeared in the living room, wiping her hands on a yellow, polka-dotted apron.  Her raven-black hair was tied in a tight bun though some curls managed to fall from its grip.  I snickered to myself, thinking that those rogue strands looked a little like spaghetti.  God forbid if I’d mention that to Mamma though. Her vanity was as important to her as the height of the white waves perched atop her famous lemon meringue pie.

Mamma was a great cook with a heart of gold.  She told stories of many men back in Italy who had asked for her hand in marriage after tasting her homemade cannoli.   But it was Papa who had won her heart in the end.
Ora di mangiare! Time to eat!” Mamma announced.

Papa neatly folded his newspaper and gingerly stood up from the couch.  He let out a soft moan as he rose, placing his large, factory-worn hands on his lower back.

“If work doesn’t kill me, I don’t know what will.” he lamented.

Papa was a hard-working man who had spent years laboring in sweatshop after sweatshop.  Lately, he seemed to be growing even more tired of work and of the city, in general.  Papa took his frustration out on the noise from that darn “L” train, clattering down the tracks.  He seemed, in fact, to have declared war on all urban reminders that he wasn’t in his small, Southern Italian village anymore.

The sublime perfume of Mamma’s eggplant parmigiana now reached the living room in full force so we all eagerly followed its scent to the kitchen table.  Mamma caringly poured Papa a big glass of homemade red wine from a jug.  She served us all gargantuan pieces of eggplant parmigiana, dripping in fresh tomato sauce and mile-long mozzarella.

Teresa poked at her piece and fidgeted in her chair.

“We’ve got to eat fast, otherwise we’ll miss it!” she warned.

“Teresa, mangia and don’t worry about those flying men.  They’re probably eating now too so they’ll wait for us to finish.” said Mamma, reassuringly.

But Teresa didn’t seem to believe that those flying men required nourishment at an important time like this.

My little sister defiantly dropped her fork down on her plate and ran into the living room.  Papa scolded her, ordering Teresa to sit back down but she pretended not to hear him and turned up the TV volume instead.

“Come, come” she cried out, “It’s almost time!”

Although Mamma’s luscious eggplant parmigiana could normally keep me seated at the table for an eternity, today was different.

The eggplant would have to wait.

The TV was much more important now. Our lives were about to change.

Mamma and Papa begrudgingly wiped their mouths and got up from the kitchen table to see the TV too.  Papa brought his glass of wine with him.

Just then, as the transmission was about to begin, that looming dark gray cloud decided to let itself loose in a tyranny of thunder and sent heavy raindrops to angrily batter our windows.

The four of us were jolted by the tumultuous roar that was followed by the flickering of lights and an eventual loud “pop”, coming from the fuse box.

The future would have to wait for this family.  We would catch up with it in tomorrow’s early edition.

We all walked back silently to our eggplant.

 

********************************************************************************

This piece of fiction I wrote came to me yesterday while I was cooking in my kitchen. With a pot of chili, stewing on the stove, I was cleaning up my apartment and found an old copy of The New York Times magazine that included a special insert inside.  It was a reprint to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing on July 20, 1969.

As my chili bubbled on the stove, I thought about how exciting it must have been to watch the Apollo landing, live on TV.  And oh, how our world has changed from that moment, now more than 46 years ago.

Hmmm, and just in case you too would like to make some of my “time-travel chili” (as I now like to call it), I’m including the recipe here below, along with an Instagram pic I posted yesterday of the final result!

chili

And very special thanks to my amazing blogging friends for having given me the gentle nudge I needed to switch it up a bit and add “food blog” as a category on Lifestyles with Lia!

Buon appetito !

 

Spicy Chili, Space-Walk Style
(from Lifestyles with Lia’s “Time-Traveling Kitchen”)

1   15.5-ounce can red kidney beans (or two cups, cooked from dried beans)
1 cup of corn (cooked & cut from the cob, canned or frozen)
Approximately  one pound of ground beef (or any other kind of ground meat or meat substitute you prefer)
1  28-ounce can of whole, peeled plum tomatoes (reserving its liquid)
a half of a red onion and half of a carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Drizzle of olive oil (enough to line the bottom of the pot)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder                                    salt and black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin powder

Shredded cheddar cheese , crackers, parsley, red onions etc as a garnish

1. In a large pot, sauté the chopped red onion, carrots and garlic in the olive oil, on medium heat, adding the cayenne pepper, turmeric, salt, black pepper and cumin to release their fragrance with the heat.

2. Once the onions, garlic and carrots are golden brown, add in the ground beef and cook on medium heat  until the meat is no longer pink and the liquid released from the meat has evaporated. Add salt to flavor the beef while it cooks.

3. In a separate bowl, empty the contents of the can of peeled, while plum tomatoes, along with the liquid from the can. With your hands, crush the whole tomatoes into bite-sized pieces (but take care not to squirt tomato seeds all over yourself and kitchen, as I did!)

4. Add the hand-crushed tomatoes to the beef and cook over a high heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

5. Add the corn and red kidney beans and cook for another 5 minutes ( more or less, depending on whether you like your chili soupier or thicker since the tomato liquid will evaporate in time.)

6. Taste the chili, adjusting the salt/spice content to taste.

7. Serve the chili in deep bowls and garnish with chopped onions, shredded cheddar cheese, parsley, crackers (or any other of your favorite accompaniments!)

8.  Mangia and enjoy!

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59 comments

  1. What a great story Lia! I was hooked from the first few words…trying to figure out what history changing event was going to occur and how the looming storm would play in. You really have a way of putting the reader in the story. I love how you tied it back to food and shared your inspiration and recipe ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. YEAH !!!! ALLELUIA, BRAVA You did it !!! First of all congratulations for the triple treat: the story is so well written, I was so hooked that I could not helped a “DAMNED!” when the TV stopped. You are such a talented writer, thanks so much for this great post too.
    Plus this post was so mouthwatering. If there is a bit of truth here, I ll make sure I ll stop by your place for lunch on a SUnday. You got me with the eggplants, but you really KO me with the handmade wine 😛
    THanks for the recipe!!! I was about to ask it as a Xmas present, so glad I can try it before.. And thanks for the great time I spent on this post, I am so looking forward to reading the next ones and collecting your recipes. I’ll just have to make sure I read them after diner 😛 XXX

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dearest! I read your comment earlier today while at work and I was smiling ear-to-ear! My boss probably wondered what I was reading! I had you in mind for the eggplant parmigiana part so I have to give you credit where credit is due! I knew you would want then to come try my own eggplant parm, so this was an open invitation for you to come for dinner and I’m glad it worked! LOL!
      Thank you for having guided me towards adding a recipe to my blog. It felt good writing a fiction that had something to do with the recipe/cooking aspect. I think I’ll do it again soon!
      I’m glad you liked the part of the story when the lights went out! I’m not sure where I got that idea from but I was thinking how there were no DVRs then to record something so this poor family was out of luck until the morning!
      Much love to you from across the miles and thanks again for everything!

      Like

  3. Lia my dearest blogger, photographer, chef, artist, writer. Estelea got it right!
    You’re so gifted!
    Reading your post made me time travel with the story and it felt so real! The detailed rich description and attractive features, hooked me up immediately and the only issue I have with that, is that now I want to rally eat this egg plant parmigiana and the chili space walker. Mamma Mia! That’s looking delicious.
    Lia, I’m happy you gave it a go and have no doubts you’re in the right direction. Don’t stop, we are here cheering you! Way to go!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am drop-dead impressed, Lia! Your story was riveting, I wasn’t exactly sure where it was going but you set the scene so well, it felt like the 60s, (I guess “moon” should have been the give-away for me). I remember watching the moon landing (we lived in Portland, OR then) on a B&W small TV. I was nine, so I mostly remember playing outside until my mom yelled at me to come it and watch! Your account of your memory is so vivid, down to your mom’s curly “spaghetti-like” tendrils of hair escaping her bun. 🙂

    Now you added food to you blog? Mama Mia! Your recipe looks incredible–so I will put my husband to the test with that recipe.

    So glad you wrote this and you will be inundated with likes and comments, darling Lia! Bravo, well-done, and totally cool, from you California friend! And I love the fact you named your sister, Teresa 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TERRI! As I read your comment, I could picture you outside playing in your yard when the astronauts came on TV and your mom calling you in to watch! When I saw that NY Times insert, I imagined what it would have been like to watch it on TV and how I could imagine that the whole world stopped to view it. And the lack of internet/DVRs meant that everyone had to be at the TV at the same time…
      I’m thrilled you enjoyed my fiction — the Brooklyn part and the names were taken from truth! My aunt’s name is also Teresa and I can say that name carries with it kindness and joy and you EXEMPLIFY that!
      Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my friend. Your enthusiasm for my writing is utterly a joy to behold and makes me feel so happy that my words are reaching out and touching readers! I’m so grateful to you!
      *Lia

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great story about a family scene in another time. I liked, “Her vanity was as important to her as the height of the white waves perched atop her famous lemon meringue pie.” Nice character descriptions of the mother and father. It was interesting how the storm interrupted the moon landing on TV at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue! Thank you so very much for these words of support and encouragement for my writing and also my cooking! I had found this newspaper insert that made me wonder what the moon landing would have been like to have everyone in the nation watching at the same time! It’s great that you could feel that excitement even as a young child…
      Oh, your compliments make me feel so special. They really mean a lot to me. Thank you so much my friend for your continued support for my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fantastic story! I definitely want some eggplant parmigiana now…but also that scrumptious-looking chili. I should’ve shot straight to your blog after I saw the Instagram pic, but the surprise recipe at the end was worth the wait. I’ll be trying it as soon as the weather cools off here! I always get excited when I see you have a new post, and this one did not disappoint! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you my friend! Your comments mean the world to me. I’m so glad that the thoughts of eggplant Parmigiana and chili are in your near future! Indeed the chili is better in cold weather but I guess I cooked cooler weather than we’ve been having! Thank you again for your sweet comment on my story! I really am honored and thrilled you feel excited when you see my posts!
      Have a great start to the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read this on my layover in Hong Kong and for some reason didn’t reply right then (probably too tired and out of it).

    Anywho, this piece is so beautiful and poignant, Lia!

    Also, I LOVE that you are adding recipes to your blog! I am going to be ALL OVER any vegetarian recipes that you post. I practically drool every time you put a food photo on Instagram. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Britta! I’m glad you enjoyed my fiction..It hit me when I read a reprint of the NY Times from that moment in time and how cool it must have been to see it live..and how our world changed from that moment, I think!
      I decided to include on my blog, stories that write based on recipes I cook…I’ll be adding some more hopefully soon! Vegetarian recipes too. I am glad you enjoy my IG account…I’m loving IG too!
      Sending you all my very best!
      *Lia

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The story had me riveted onto every word. At 1st I thought it was wartime, and there was an evacuation, but this was Brooklyn, not Europe. And who are those flying men? Were they pilots? It had me guessing, but I did not guess the moon landing. I was 11 at the time, and remember watching it on my black and white TV with the rabbit ears for reception. No storm interruptions where I was! Thank you for sharing! 🙂
    ~Carl~

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Un bellissimo racconto Lia le mie felicitazioni, anche per la ricetta che secfondo me deve essere molto buona. Appena posso la prepara e poi ti faccio sapere com’è venuta. Sono passata un attimo a salutarti e a leggerti.
    Carissima ti lascio un abbraccio e ti auguro una buona settimana avvenire. Ciao a presto ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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