Something happened when I was in the middle of reading this book. Something…well…bad. And I’m almost afraid to write about it for fear that the Baltimore County Library will hunt me down or blacklist me or something, which would be really tragic for them given all the money they earn from my late fines.

It was the heart of summer, late July, and I was sitting on the beach with my mom. It was a hot day–so hot, in fact, that I’m almost crying thinking about it now as I cuddle up in a blanket and look outside at the rain. It was so hot that my mom made the bold move of planting our beach chairs right near the shore break. Because I didn’t want to get my beach bag wet am incredibly naïve I left my bag with a set of nice-looking strangers farther from shore, but my (more responsible) mom brought hers down with us and set it on a cooler in between our chairs. This was really a good decision except that I proceeded to then stick my book underneath of the bag that was already precariously situated on a cooler that was sitting in wet sand. (See also: my intelligence). The leaning tower of non-fiction did just fine until a gigantic wave came up and my mom instinctively lifted her beach bag out of harm’s way, thus knocking my book directly off the cooler and into the swirling wave.

The book ended up being an impressive mix of soaking wet and sandy, which really did a number on my bed when I went to finish reading it the next night. And by my bed, I mean the bed in my old room at my parents house. What goes around comes around, MOM.

Joking aside, I was pretty bummed because not only did I love this book, but I love my library, which has an awesome online reservation program and is all of two seconds from my house. I was more than a little concerned that my frequent late returns (don’t value judge) and the blatant damage of a book that had a freshly stuck NEW sticker on the back would result in some kind of, how shall we say, “consequences” from the library. This is the same library that only lets you check out books without your library card ONCE in your ENTIRE LIFETIME, even though they already have all of your information on file. So yes, as silly as it sounds, I was a little scared of the wrath of the library. And thus I begged Scott for mercy until he agreed to put it in the drop box after hours.

Morale of the story: I am a wimp, and my mom is a bags-before-books kind of lady, despite all that emphasis she put on things like “education” and “reading” during my childhood. Yeah mom, when push goes to shove I see what matters the most. Her name starts with Vera and ends with Bradley.

My favorite parts of Blood, Bones and Butter:

“Be careful what you get good at doin’ ‘cause you’ll be doin’ it for the rest of your life.”

“She and I do not speak the same language, and because of that our relationship really thrives. Even my twenty words of Italian—all of them in the present tense—don’t work with her because she speaks formally and sometimes in a Leccese dialect. So we just hug and cook a lot. Which can seem, at times, like a greater intimacy than the one I have with her son, and a very compelling reason to stay married to him.”

“Iannis, without wasting a moment on that awkward and tedious conversation that will unhappily precede so many hundreds and hundreds of future restaurant meals in all of our lives—whether to share or not to share and whether or not there are food phobias and dietary restrictions among us—simply ordered food for the table without even consulting a menu, and so set the standard for me for all time of excellent hospitality: Just take care of everything. Is it considered more hospitable to discover your guests’ preferences, their likes and dislikes? Is it rude to deny your guests choice and control over their experience? I don’t know, but I forever want to arrive somewhere hungry and thirsty and tired and be taken care of as Iannis took care of us. I want to be relieved of making possibly poor decisions, to be spared the embarrassing moment when I—the guest—am asked to state my preference for red or white wine, meat or fish, sparkling or still water, when I know that whatever I say will be a decision rendered for the whole table.”

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