“We need some more bread,” the man at the pasta shop shouted at his wife. They sell many varieties of fresh pasta throughout the week, and on Thursdays and Fridays they offer a pasta lunch, very popular among the construction workers building the hyper-modern glass office building down the road. The wife works in the kitchen. She makes three types of pasta and brings it out periodically in large pots to pour into a Bain Marie. Her adult daughter serves the pasta into plastic containers. She is generous. Usually the servings are too large to eat in one sitting. It also comes with three slices of bread and butter. Sometimes there are meatballs, and if you ask the adult daughter, she’ll put them in bread with coleslaw and shaved parmesan on top. She calls almost everyone “babe”, including her dad, who, on busy days, works the till. Today was a busy day. I was waiting in the long line deciding on what I’d order. There was bolognese pasta bake, a cheese ravioli with ham and cream sauce, and gnocchi Napoli. “You Anglos invented tele-communication but we Italians invented our own thing,” the dad said to the man at the front of the line who had just ordered the bolognese pasta bake. “We call it the yell-a-com.” Then he shouted again in the direction of kitchen: “more bread.” The adult daughter, who was buttering slices of bread, chuckled. “Who you calling Anglo,” the customer replied. He was wearing a leather jacket, had a pock-marked face, looked 60-ish. “Where you from,” the dad asked. “You don’t recognize me?” The dad leaned forward, held the man’s shoulders, and peered at his face. The man in the leather jacket smiled expectantly. The dad shook his head. “If you don’t recognize me then it’s none of your business where I’m from,” the man in the leather jacket said. He picked up the pasta-filled plastic container and left. “You forgot your bread babe,” the adult daughter called after him.
1. Cold Enough for Snow, a novel by Jessica Au
2. This is Pleasure, a novella by Mary Gaitskill
3. An interview with Cornell West
4. Revising One Sentence, an essay by Lydia Davis
5. Tacitus on the dynamics of cultural change