Coming in from the Cold in Chicago (Mar 5 – 6, 2011)Snow flurries arrived in Chicago about when I did. Icy roads, slippery sidewalks and cutting chill outside. But I only felt warmth during my four days there… and right from the moment of arrival: Rich had read my articles on Italian Notebook and had written me about a possible 2012 Chicago cooking event as a benefit. We decided to meet to discuss all. After kindly picking me up at the airport, we joined with his wife Lori and their friend, Kathy, for a buonissimo lunch of tapas (anything but italiano food for me as I cook my way across the U.S.!). Our lunch was Spanish but Rome was our connective link: they had all met while in Rome and I too had lived there, though years earlier.
More Rome connections coming up: I stayed in Winnetka with friend Keta (Rome junior year-abroad ’68 -’69) and her husband Brian. Their hospitality was warm, open-hearted and italiano, ending with a feast prepared by Brian my last night in the Chicago area.
Another Rome junior-year-abroad friend, Doug, took me to lunch with his wife Carol – mille grazie to both! High-school reunions warmed those icy Chicago days, too: the day after my arrival, I headed downtown to lunch near the Art Institute with Milwaukee high school friend, Anne, and her partner, Karen. They had been in Assisi last year – and sounds as if Umbria might soon draw them back!
Italy was a key factor in the two Winnetka cooking classes hosted by Rosemary – and not just because the food was Italian! Rosemary had studied at the Loyola-Chicago Rome program, too (but years after Keta, Doug and me). We met at a Loyola Chicago reunion in Italy a couple years ago: I was the guide for an optional day in Assisi centered on our magnificent medieval festival, the Calendimaggio.
Rosemary’s first cooking class – in the evening – was filled with her own Rome friends (mostly) and many had also joined in that Assisi tour. What hilarious laughter as they shared stories and memories of their life-changing Rome year as we cooked – and then feasted.
Rosemary hosted another class – “women only” – the next day at lunchtime! This class took the “overflow” of the requests for cooking the night before – and Rosemary also welcomed women who had toured with me in Assisi, lived in the Chicago area and wanted to re-connect. Always a joy to re-establish ties as we slice and dice, mix and whip. Che bello!
A second Rosemary joined in that class: we had walked to school together every day from first grade to seventh grade in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – and had not seen each other since seventh grade! “Milwaukee Rosemary” was my “sous-chef” for this second class. (Now that we have re-connected, I hope that our next meeting will be in OUR kitchen in Assisi!)
Warmest mille grazie to everyone who brought me “in from the cold” in Chicago!
Here is a word from my host, Rosemary: “It was a delight! Everyone had such a wonderful time and the food was fantastico! Anne, I loved having you in my home. I look forward to seeing you again in Italy.” Rosemary
… and here is a word from another Rosemary, my grade-school friend who assisted as my “sous-chef”/guest at our Winnetka classes(what a wonderful way to connect!): “I had such a wonderful time!! All of the guests were just lovely, and the food was favoloso! Thank you both for including me in the cooking event. I really learned a lot.” Rosemary J.
“What a way to spend the afternoon! Fantastic! Come back next year!” Mary
“This was such a treat… I’ve learned so much. I have been inspired!” Katie
“Thank you again. I could not miss this experience of cooking with you! We’ll always remember how special our tour with you in Assisi was.” Cynthia