We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Stay for lunch. It'd just be a bite, she said. Scraps, mainly. The manservant with the striped jacket came and went. He brought meaty moist proscuitto crudo slices and a dark rucchetta salad. Rich Venetian oxtail stew with slices of fried polenta. I like it best like that, said Marta Marzotto, heaping our plates. Slices off a huge pink Mortadella. You must have some of this, said Marta. A present from Pavarotti. The mortadella looked not unlike its donor, minus beard and teeth. There was a subtle chicken and lemon casserole. The most beautiful gorgonzola I'd ever seen. Entire, hacked open and voluptuously spilling out its creamy blue guts. The countess offered wine from an unlabelled bottle. A fine fruity white wine that was drunk even less than the food was eaten. We ate with massive, weighty cutlery made for real hands, and drank from Marta's fantastical colored goblets of Murano glass. Then a gloriously substantial coffee semifreddo. Have some more, said the countess generously, shovelling semifreddo on to my plate. It's warming up.
That is an Italian luncheon. Until halfway through the book when I decided to google her, I had thought that Marta was fictional. Nope. She befriended the author. While married to Count Umberto Marzotto, she managed a long affair with Sicilian artist, movie-maker and famous Communist Renato Guttoso who figures prominently in the book. A close pal of Picasso. Colorful people, adding a lot of life to life. La dolce vita, so different from life in Yankeeland.