Bio Note: Although I’m a homebody and a hermit, this time of isolation seems endless. I’ve used this great pause to write more and to read books again, as well as submit more of my work. My poetry has appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and The Nation. I live in rural central Virginia in the woods, alone, with one difficult cat named Sestina, and a stray cat named Sonnet, who won’t come in from the cold.
Feast of the Seven Fishes
Christmas Eve, La Viglia, 1963, my mother a blur of movement in the tiny Brooklyn kitchen to follow a tradition her parents were too poor to honor. Fasting for church meant no meat— an excuse for a fish feast. Seven fishes for the seven sacraments. Clams oreganata, baked in shells to a light brown, arancini she’d fried the day before, fried calamari, little tentacles curled in spicy tomato sauce mother canned that summer on Long Island. Two pasta dishes, one white, one red: shrimp scampi and mussels marinara, served over a tangle of linguine. Stuffed flounder, steamed lobster tails and crab legs, green salad topped with crabmeat and pine nuts, broccoli rabe sauté, artichokes filled with breadcrumbs, garlic, and cheese. Around the table, card games while Espresso perks, we wait for the spread of desserts: cannoli, biscotti, panettoni, sfogliatelle, sing along with Perry and Bing.
Originally published in River Poets Journal Autumn/Winter 2012
Good broth will resurrect the dead. —South American proverb. Two pots simmer on the stove, day and night creating steam, scenting my house with cozy’s fragrance. One pot with chicken necks and feet, onions, garlic, one large bay leaf. splash of vinegar, plus sea salt, pepper. The second holds browned beef neck bones with a little meat and cartilage, plus onions, garlic, one large bay leaf. The second day, I add baby carrots, parsley for more flavor, let pots boil for a lifesaver. Secret to restoring health, adds lost minerals to the body, prerequisites to healthy joints, gentle digestion. I’ve joined the parade of chefs toward slow food, cooking at the center of my home. Pantry filled with home- canned food, throwback to shorter rations. Magic elixir! Next comes fermentation.
Originally published in The Stray Branch, 2017
©2021 Joan Mazza
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