Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 8:52AM
Karen’s parents both fell two weeks ago.
One resulted in a likely cracked rib.
The other resulted in a coma.
Karen’s parents aren’t old. They shouldn’t be falling.
Long divorced, to learn on the same day that they had fallen, was eerie. And heartbreaking.
Standing alongside your wife, as she tries to keep tabs on her mother, who assures us she’ll be OK even though we know there’s more pain than she’s really letting on...while she’s dealing with nurses and doctors and relatives and lawyers and accountants and neighbors...it’s a maddening feeling, my not being able to fix this.
But there may be little left of her dad to fix.
He should be, the doctors and nurses say, he should be coming off the ventilator. His body doesn’t agree. There is bleeding in his brain. And there is swelling. And there is pneumonia. And heart failure came along like a dirty little bastard because his body simply didn’t have enough to deal with.
He went into the hospital talking. About falling down the stairs. About the neighbor who found him. About his two daughters.
And that was it.
That was all he said.
And then he was in a coma.
Best case, the doctors say, is that he will have extremely limited verbal and physical ability.
“He won’t be the same person he was if he wakes up.”
We were ready to rally. We know how to quickly mobilize and solve shit. That is what we do.
But her dad’s body is simply unable to rally, to gain traction on something, to pull him out of his state of somewhere else.
And so we all wait.
And since there is no way to solve this one, no way to fix this...we cook.
We need busy hands. Kids and a job fill most of that need. But at night while we’re talking about what comes next, I cook. Anything she wants.
Ravioli. Pecorino and pear. With fresh pasta, made in our kitchen for the first time. Perfect the technique. Make it great. Make it better than what we had in Florence. Remind ourselves of easier times, when we came home pregnant with our son.
Fresh, tender pasta. Grated pears, a gift from the Pear Bureau/USA Pears that was sitting in the corner of our kitchen, ignored too long, these beautiful pears waiting for us to use them, just hours before they overripened. A salty bite of the Pecorino. Melted butter. Sea salt. Fresh black pepper.
The simplest, most wonderful pasta from Domenica Marchetti. Everything for the dough into the food processor. A few spins of the blade. On to the counter for some kneading. Rest. A turn of the crank on the pasta roller. A turn and a turn and a turn. Long yellow ribbons furling on top of themselves. Endless.
A small tablespoon of pear and pecorino filling with a little egg to hold it all together.
A ribbon of pasta on top. A wine glass to cut the ravioli.
Two and a half minutes in boiling water.
On the plate. The butter. The salt. The pepper.
Settle down on the couch with some wine and pasta. And then off to bed.
And so it goes. Waiting for the thing that comes next, not knowing when it will come or what it will be.
There’s an expectation of food, good food, that it can heal your soul.
It can’t. Not this time.
But good food, this perfect pasta, the pears, the Pecornio, it can fill you up.
And sometimes that’s enough.
- Fresh egg pasta
We love and will always use this fresh egg pasta dough recipe from the inimitable Domenica Marchetti. Follow her food processor instructions for the easiest pasta dough you’ve ever made. You do need a pasta roller for this. Don’t feel bad if you buy your pasta sheets premade. You have other things to worry about.
- Pecorino & Pear Filling
Loose instructions. Please improvise. We made twelve ravioli, so adjust the proportions accordingly for your needs.
Mix the following together in a bowl to use as filling:
- One large or two medium pears, exceedingly ripe, peeled and grated coarsley
- A pile of freshly grated Pecorino Romano, from a ½ pound block of cheese
- An egg
- Assembling the Ravioli
If you’d like a primer on making ravioli, Marc at No Recipes does a great job of explaining it in his Shitake and Arugula Ravioli post.
- Cooking the Ravioli
In a large, wide pot of salted boiling water, drop in a scrap of pasta dough. At 2.5 minutes, test it to see if it’s done. Adjust your cooking time for the ravioli accordingly.
- Serve topped with a little melted butter, a sprinkling of sea salt, and cracked pepper.