From the Sky - Part XIX


From the Sky - Part XIX

By James M. O'Meara, © 2012

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Pane Bara

Coffin Bread...

The last Tarentella picnic weekend began with a series of bad omens. I've heard them recited by my aunts at countless Sunday dinners over the years. First, Carlo broke a bag of salt in the bakery. He was trying to fill the bin and got careless. The bag split and most of the salt hit the floor. Spilling a little salt is bad enough and throwing a dash over the shoulder usually wards off bad luck. But this was a vast pile of salt, so Carlo threw a fistful over his shoulder just as Alberto was walking by. Some got in Alberto's eyes, and he stumbled toward the sink, knocking over a can of olive oil in the process. The oil opened and spilled as well. In my family you don't spill salt and you don't spill oil and you never, ever spill both at the same time.

"Carlo and Alberto never should have been working in the first place," Rae told me the very first time I heard the story. I was a teenager at the time, and we were eating tiramisu after dinner at my father's table.

"They spilled salt and oil because we broke tradition," Sal added as Zia went to refill her wineglass. "We baked wedding cakes on picnic Saturday. One shouldn't break traditions lightly. It invites mischievous spirits and dangerous stregas to work their magic."