Victor Hazan on His Roman Holiday

This post was written by Victor Hazan and originally published on Facebook.

My Roman holiday. It began with Cacio e Pepe and Trippa at Armando al Pantheon and ended with a garlic steak taco at Willy’s Taqueria at the Atlanta airport. The last time I had been in Rome was with Marcella in that fateful September of 2001. We had lived gloriously in Rome in the mid-1960’s and had returned for short visits since. Marcella longed to enjoy again the never forgotten pleasure of shopping in the city’s cornucopian markets and cooking alla romana in Rome. She hoped to recapture, even if briefly, the hours of once carefree days, before cooking would become a career. We took a three-week rental on a flat with a good kitchen close to the Campo dei Fiori market. A few days into our stay, as we were walking toward the market, her arm in mine, Marcella stumbled on a cobblestone and fell heavily. Falling was a recurrent trauma in her life. When she was seven she fell at the beach and broke her right arm. It should have been a banal childhood accident, but it marked her for the rest of her life. Her arm was badly set, it never straightened out again, and the hand curled into itself. I often took her by that maimed hand, it was so tender, its size that of a little girl’s, its soft skin never roughened by work. Marcella fell again, regularly, to the end of her life, she fell at home, she fell on the street, she fell in restaurants getting out of her chair. The once-familiar Roman cobblestones now terrified her. She said, I am not going out again, unless you come for me with a taxi. I’ll cook lunch, if you buy the food, but we’ll go out for dinner, by taxi. She stayed home in the days that remained, while I walked the city. Her friends came to see her. She was not alone. I walked the city this year also, but it was hard, I didn’t have my old legs, or rather, my legs had become old. I wobbled on the uneven pavement, and when I wobbled, I felt Marcella’s arm slip out of mine as she dropped. Victor

June 26, 2015
Photo by Victor Hazan

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