PRESENZA - Rediscovering the joy of eating

The Roots of a Community Photo: Steven Darby, CMC CD2004-0245 D2004-6115

If you lived in a village perched at the top of a hill, typical of those found in southern Italy in the 1950s, your return home from the fields would take you along winding, undulating paths and up steps. The route would set the pace: it would be impossible to hurry. But that would give you plenty of time to meet people and engage in conversation: greet relatives, chat with friends or watch your children at play. Your journey home would mirror your life throughout the year, when economic activities would be interrupted by numerous secular and religious celebrations, or work-related festivities, at harvest or threshing time, or when a pig was slaughtered.

Drawn to Canadian cities, with their grids of wide streets and boulevards, Italian immigrants were fascinated, as we are today, by the advantages of speed and the possibility of getting around quickly and obtaining things right away. But they did not forget the moments of respite that punctuated their lives in Italy. Perhaps their cafés and patios, the parks where they play bocce and the neighbourhoods through which their processions travel are ways of recreating the sinewy lanes of their villages. Perhaps this is all a clever means of getting us to slow down and be patient, of inviting us to take the time to talk to people, listen to them and perhaps weave the roots of a community.