Martine always woke up at 4:00 a.m. Important work was to be done in the kitchen. First, she had to make pasta from scratch, a labor-intensive onus which was her pride and joy. She would pile the semolina flour into a mound on the centuries old counter-top, then dig a crater in the center where she would crack two eggs, a measured-by-experience teaspoonful of salt, and freshly pressed olive oil from the 100-year-old trees behind the family villa. Nobody in the village surrounding Castle Amelia made pasta as delicious as Martine!
The queen of the Tuscany kitchen was getting old, and her 7 daughters and 1 son (a spectacular Italian chef in his own right) always wondered how their Madre managed to cook such amazing culinary delights every day. Martine, you should know, wouldn’t allow her offspring to watch her while she created the daily feasts.
Particular attention was given to the thinly sliced mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and even the garlic which was so thin you could see through it. The siblings always thought she was genuinely handy with the myriad of razor-sharp knives she manipulated, while she crafted the artistic masterpieces that were placed before them on the massive dinner table. They had to know her secret.
A sly smile broke Martine’s usual stalwart expression whenever her progenies would try to probe for answers to their fact-finding missions. She knew that eventually she must pass her mystery down the family line to carry on with the tradition that her mother introduced to her sixty years before. Until then, the information was kept confidential, and nothing could coerce her to reveal her mystery.
The day had finally come. Martine lay in a hospital bed, her 8 children surrounding, solemnly waiting for the life journey to find its ultimate boundary. Franco, the superb chef, finally broke the silence. “Mama, please tell us…how do you make such perfectly thin slices of Italian cuisine?”
Martine took one final, deep breath and as she exhaled, Franco leaned closer while the others stood silently hoping the secret would finally belong to them. Only two concluding words were whispered breathily from her weak voice… “cheese… grater.”
Originally posted at theweeklyknob.com from the writing prompt: cheese grater