Friday, August 10, 2012
Today's MOMENT OF ZEN 8/10/12
Words and photo by F LoBuono
It's such a simple thing; wine and peaches - hearty, red, Italian wine mixed with sweet, fresh, summer peaches. And I love it. But I love it for more than just the way it refreshes me on a hot summer's evening. I love it because it reminds me of my father.
Growing up in an Italian/Sicilian household, wine was almost always on our dinner table. As is the case with most Italian families, we were not big "drinkers" but wine (and beer) was always available. Even children could have a bit of wine (usually mixed with some club soda) with their meals. It was part of our culture. In the late summer, my father would use our love of wine to make us a special treat. Local peaches were in abundance - lush, ripe with sweet juice and practically bursting with flavor. And NO ONE could pick fruit better than my father! I think he inherited that wonderful skill from his father who was a produce merchant. He would look. He would feel. He would smell, rejecting this one, picking that one. And he was never wrong - about fruit anyway LOL! He'd go to the local market and pick out a bushel. He'd remove the pits and cut them into quarters. Then, he'd get what I affectionately call good, guinea red wine and filled a pitcher or large container with it. He then placed the sliced peaches into the wine and put both into the refrigerator. Now, the key was to resist the urge to get to that divine elixir for at least 24 hours. My old man said that the mixture needed that long, or longer, to marinate. In fact, the longer it sat undisturbed, the tastier it would get. The sweetness from the peaches would effect the dry taste of the wine, and the alcohol from the wine would penetrate the peaches.
I could hardly wait for my first serving! Poured into a large glass with ice, it was important to get some of the peaches into the glass along with the wine. What a delightful marriage of flavors it had become! I guess that you could call it Sicilian Sangria. It was so refreshing that I had to resist the urge to down the glass with a single gulp. And after you finished the wine in the glass, you still had a special treat left to enjoy: the peaches. From absorbing the wine, they had turned from a bright yellow color to burgundy. The wine had also mellowed their flavor, infusing it with a touch of alcohol. And, of course, as the peaches had absorbed the alcohol, after you ate them, so did you! Now I understand why I could still feel the effects of the wine long after I had finished drinking it and eating the peaches. Delicious!
But I think that the best part of all was watching my father's face when we drank a glass. He would so enjoy the fact that he had made something that you saw as special. If you loved it, then HE loved it. And it was all SO simple. Yet, I thought it was one of the world's great delicacies. That was all that mattered to him.
Well, the other day, at the local farmer's market in town, one of the merchants was selling fresh, local peaches. Another merchant was selling local, hearty, red wine. Well, what's a Sicilian boy to do? Of course, I bought some peaches. I bought some wine. I got the urge and, presto, you know what is now marinating in the frig!
But, there's more. Even though the timing is right (late summer, peaches, etc.), I don't know what prompted me to make it this week rather than last week or next. Well, it just struck me like a bullet - this week marks the 25th anniversary of my father's death. Uncanny. I didn't really THINK about making it - I FELT it. He IS alive. He is in my thoughts even when I'm not thinking about him. His spiritual presence is always with me, even when I'm not aware of it. It is found in the simplest of things - like wine and peaches.
Look for the wonderment. It is all around us.