A DAY TO REMEMBER
Where we were headed didn't matter. The steady clatter of the wheels on ancient rails. It never fails, the tour guide was young and hardly spoke our tongue. She came from some place we never knew. She was sweet, but she was dumb.
With engine roaring, most of the tourists snoring and two teen-agers playing boring rock-and-roll on their erratic, static radio, a baby cryingand a mother trying to soothe her child with a mild foreign lullaby and the temperature soaring in this un-airconditioned mode of transportation, my vacation had become just one long frustration.
A couple sat in the seat in front of me, trying desperately to be heard above all this noise, plus two small boys banging their toys against the window pane. again and again, was enough to drive the saints insane.
Finally the train came to a screeching stop. It was time for our scheduled lunch. I had a hunch if the tour was bad, of course, the food would be worse. How wrong could I be? We went to this small cafe along the way and the menu was pure gourmet.
The salad greens, the rice and beans, the mushroom puree. the broiled trout in a lightly spiced mysterious way, dish after dish made us wish this meal would never end. We'd never tasted such a blend of delicacies. The home-made wine? Divine! The aperitif? Beyond belief! And all topped off with a fresh baked pie I cannot deny was conceived by angels in the sky.
Before we left, we met the chef, a tiny, wrinkled lady surely way past eighty, her hands thick with flour, her apron painted with gravy stains, who, with grace, took a bow and, one by one, to show how we loved her meal, we held and kissed her and I believe we made her feel special on this otherwise ordinary day.
As we left we heard her say in her modest Italian way, "I thank-a you. You like what I make for you what-a you ate? I appreciate. But, hey! It no big deal."