By David Mangene, 17 March 2020, Utrecht – the Netherlands.
When I was a kid I used to sit in my Nana Mangini’s kitchen and watch her roll the Italian meatballs and sausages by hand. “David, sweethaht”, her Boston accent thick and juicy, “you’re so skinny, you need to eat more meatballs!” she’d yap at me, never taking her eye off the food. Those hours in her kitchen, watching her cook, planted a seed deep within me. She was a highly dramatic woman, bi-polar just like me, but when she’d be working her magic in that kitchen, she was as calm as the sea at dawn. Cooking mellowed her shit out, every single time. I couldn’t help but notice her calm focus in the kitchen. I never forgot it.
Fast forward to today, day 2 of the Great Corona Apocalypse Social Isolation Hand Washing Olympics, and I’m anything but calm. Today I’m more jittery than a jitterbug. Sure, we took a lovely long walk through the city (keeping our distance from the other humans, oh yes.) Of course, we’ve done the work we need to do for today and all that’s really left to do is enjoy each other’s company. Which we will do, no doubt. And still, I’m shaking like a leaf, my mind wandering.
What would my Nana Mangini do at a time like this? She’d get her hands on some meatballs, certamente! What’s my point? Use your hands – it’s even tip number 9 in my new book How To Not Kill Yourself. When you’re feeling weary, use your hands because it’ll calm you right down and make you feel better. I like to use mine to cook stuff (yes to cook stuff, among other things but you’ll have to read my book for the reveal).
“Dominique, let’s make chocolate mousse!” I yelp, knowing I’m Mr. Sweet Tooth and she makes the best mousse this side of Lille. (actually it’s hemelse modder but who’s counting?). Truth be told, when it comes to desserts, I can’t really make them so I excitedly yell to Doacha “let’s make a dessert”. Translation: “liefje, will you make a dessert and let me eat all of it?”. Credit where credit is due.
She made the hemelse modder. I ate it. All of it, because she’s not much of a dessert person. Molto deliciozo. Nana Mangini would be proud. It was so good that it made me hopeful that we can get through this fucking Corona thing. Food can do that to a person. Naive maybe, but still. Now is not the time to overthink. If food gives you hope, eat the meatballs. Buon apetito!