Houston Cooking Class Escapes the Evil Eye (Mar 1, 2011)Never put a loaf of bread on the table upside down: porta male (“brings bad luck”). Everyone will jump up to turn it over, making the corna sign (“horns”) against the mal’occhio (“evil eye”).
Bread is sacred. Never throw out leftover bread. Porta male. Countless Italian dishes with breadcrumbs as well as bruschetta and panzanella (old-bread-cold-salad) solve the challenge of what to do with stale bread.
Never slice bread at the table. Porta male. Slice bread away from the table and serve. Break bread at the table. (No bread plates, nor bread knives on Italian tables.)
I love to start each cooking class with Umbrian rural “food lore” and the March 1st Houston class participants really got into the malocchio lore; in fact, host Brownie ran to get a Turkish malocchio protective charm and held it over my head as I cooked!
What laughter, what joy we shared once again over food preparation and sharing of our many dishes at table. And once again, a dinner connected old friends: host Mary and I had first met in Rome in 1968 our junior-year-abroad with the Loyola/Chicago Rome program. We were the only two (of the 280 or so students in the program, from universities all over the country) from Wisconsin – and quickly became fast friends. (Maybe we were attracted to each other’s accents and “Wisconsin-isms”?… You betcha!)
Mary and Brownie, what a night! Such a great group of friends: I truly feel I have made many new ones. And what a most special Houston stay with you both. We’re a long way from Wisconsin. But then again, maybe not.
“What a fabulous evening of continuously stimulating tastes!” Valerie
“Thank you for the most incredible meal. Such fresh wonderful tastes! So much laughter and so much fun! Many thanks.” Jacki and Frank
“What a lovely evening! I’m honored to have been included. The food, the fun, the company – it was all perfect!” Gena
CLICK HERE to learn more about my annual U.S. cooking/lecture tour.