Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy

Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy

Paula Butturini

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 1594488975

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A story of food and love, injury and healing, Keeping the Feast is the triumphant memoir of one couple's nourishment and restoration in Italy after a period of tragedy, and the extraordinary sustaining powers of food, family, and friendship.

Paula and John met in Italy, fell in love, and four years later, married in Rome. But less than a month after the wedding, tragedy struck. They had transferred from their Italian paradise to Warsaw and while reporting on an uprising in Romania, John was shot and nearly killed by sniper fire. Although he recovered from his physical wounds in less than a year, the process of healing had just begun. Unable to regain his equilibrium, he sank into a deep sadness that reverberated throughout their relationship. It was the abrupt end of what they'd known together, and the beginning of a new phase of life neither had planned for. All of a sudden, Paula was forced to reexamine her marriage, her husband, and herself.

Paula began to reconsider all of her previous assumptions about healing. She discovered that sometimes patience can be a vice, anger a virtue. That sometimes it is vital to make demands of the sick, that they show signs of getting better. And she rediscovered the importance of the most fundamental of human rituals: the daily sharing of food around the family table.

A universal story of hope and healing, Keeping the Feast is an account of one couple's triumph over tragedy and illness, and a celebration of the simple rituals of life, even during the worst life crises. Beautifully written and tremendously moving, Paula's story is a testament to the extraordinary sustaining powers of food and love, and to the stubborn belief that there is always an afterward, there is always hope.

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had neither television nor phone, but around bedtime, if the wind was right, we could just make out the sound of a Verdi opera floating over the dark garden from Joseph’s ancient wooden radio. Neither of us ever found a better lullaby. As soon as we drove onto the long, winding dirt track that led to Ann and Joseph’s pie-shaped property, the hilltop’s two resident dogs started barking their greetings and escorting the car. The chestnut trees—real chestnuts, not horse chestnuts—that lined the

propped up in bed reading. When Joseph said good night, John and I would head downstairs to our bedroom, past the sage plant that was as big as an old Volkswagen Beetle, just off the main cellar workshop. The workshop was filled from floor to ceiling with tools, paints, art supplies, winemaking equipment, lawn mowers, easels, workbenches, ladders; endless boxes and jars of screws, nails, bolts, and washers; and a general hodgepodge of miscellaneous gear. Every night as we descended those stairs

together, kept the sum of us apart. The heat of a Roman summer generally builds unceasingly from early May until the mid-August feast of Ferragosto. By mid-August, virtually all things green—save the cypresses and umbrella pines that make the landscape Roman—have long ago turned a sere golden brown, and one begins to doubt the very existence of clouds, of rain, of cold. Just before the holiday, Rome becomes a veritable ghost town, as the city’s inhabitants head for long beach vacations along the

to end. That wine-making weekend marked the end of our three-month stay. It was time for us to go back to the city, back to making another stab at real life. Late the next morning, when we arrived, Rome was its usual mayhem and chaos compared to the birdsong and hush of our Trevignano days. But once we carried our suitcases up the stairs to our new front door, our tiny apartment seemed cold, all echoes and silences, compared to the warm bustle and hubbub of the Natansons’ lake house. We had each

I felt that Julia would be helped most if she could figure that out for herself. It took her a few months, from spring until the night before John was due to start his summer vacation. Julia, nine at the time, came to me that night to explain what she thought had been troubling her. “Daddy’s got depression,” Julia said quietly. “Does that mean I will have depression?” For the first time in my life I found I was nearly thankful that my mother had suffered from depression, for I could tell her

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