Today, we celebrated G's birthday with lunch at Lorenzo's, a venerable Italian restaurant and local landmark since 1950. (Normally I avoid naming specific locations on this blog in the interest of relative anonymity, but I want all who stumble across this humble page to visit Lorenzo's, eat lots and lots of delicious, reasonably priced food, wash it down with some house wine, and chase it with dessert. Go! Eat at Lorenzo's! Mangia! You look too thin! Mangia!)
Lorenzo's was a great location for our purposes, an hour's drive for us, an hour's drive for G's mom, an hour's drive for my brother, and half an hour for my parents. My sister was home for the weekend for a high school chum's wedding, so even she could join us. We were lucky. Everyone was in good spirits, and we had a convivial afternoon.
I ordered chicken livers in marsala sauce. It's a surefire way to prevent anyone from nabbing food from my plate, but in fact, I just really, really like liver, and G. hates it, so I eat it out when I can. My sister agreed to try it. She said, "I don't like it, but I respect you." Later, when my Dad teasingly asked her what she thought of the liver, she replied, "It's disgusting!" It is not. And someday, when everyone else is pale and fatigued with anemia, I shall be rosy-cheeked and whistling a happy tune. Except that I can't whistle. Sad, isn't it?
After we ate desserts and drank coffee, an older, fit man with a shock of thick, wavy white hair, came to our table. It was Lorenzo himself! I charmed him with my three or four words of Italian, and he rewarded me by sharing that he was originally from northern Italy. He told us that optimism was his secret in life, and that he would turn 87 years old in two months. Eighty-seven! He looked about 70 at tops. My dad shared that we were celebrating G's birthday, and Lorenzo asked if we had a cake. We said that no, we had canoli and tiramisu, and they were delicious. Lorenzo would not hear of it. He looked around the room. "Are you their waitress? Bring them a cake! It's his birthday!" No no, we insisted, we were fine. Lorenzo would not hear of it. "Bring them a cake! Bring them a cake!" While we waited for the cake, Lorenzo asked me in Italian if my brother was my husband. I set him straight. He chatted with us about his wife's after-church bingo habits and how his optimism got him through both colon cancer and prostate troubles, and soon a candle-topped cake with blue and white icing was carried glowing into the room. We all sang, including Lorenzo. We thanked him, me in Italian, and then he meandered to the next table to say hello.
Although we were already stuffed, we ate cake. It was good.
Grazie mille, Signor Lorenzo!
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