My Italian Cousin

My sister did one of those twenty-three and me tests to find out what nationalities she has in her DNA. I was very interested since whatever she has I have too. It was quite disappointing to learn that we were all English, Scottish and a touch of Irish. Nothing interesting like some Dutch, Japanese, Mongolian. Despite my blood relatives being all WASPy I have some interesting relatives by marriage.

My cousin Kennan married an Italian and they have a grown son, Francesco. When Russ, Carter and I went to Italy a couple of years ago we met up with our “Italian Cousins,” which Carter found very worldly. Too bad Carter is in Berlin because Francesco is here in North Carolina for two months to work on starting a website.

I found out from my cousin Sarah that he was coming and looking for a place to stay in Raleigh. Thanks to my needlepoint friend Kate, who had extra space and took him in, I knew he was in a safe place.

I went to see him in Raleigh a few weeks ago and talk about his business. Since I know very little about what he is trying to do I thought Russ would be more help than me. Tonight we had him for dinner in Durham.

My job was to make dinner. Russ and I picked up some beautiful short ribs from the farmers market yesterday. I cooked them in the pressure cooker with onions, carrots, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, chicken stock and herbs. After the meat was all cooked I took the lid off the pot and cooked the sauce down, to a dark yummy concentrate. I also make sweet potato hash and balsamic glazed Brussels sprouts. As the meat was cooking I noticed a bag of black eyed peas I had gotten at the farmers market and thought they should be cooked so I threw them in a pot.

When Francesco arrived I commented to him, “I hope you like meat.” Turns out he is a vegetarian and never mentioned it to me. Thank goodness I had made the black eyed peas. I offered to add a fried egg to the hash, but he said he had a big lunch. I was trying to make a very American meal, but I should have asked when I invited him what his dietary restrictions are. Thank goodness I did not put any bacon in any of the vegetables I made.

Francesco was very polite about the dinner, but I tried to make up for it by serving warm from the oven molasses ginger cookies, also terribly American. He liked those so I gave him the extras to take home. At least he also was not gluten free.

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