That warm Spring evening, as the day deepened into dusk, I listened dreamily as Lorenzo told to me about Asti and Piemonte, this region of northern Italy sprinkled with tiny, historical towns perched on hilltops and connected by a network of roads undulating through fields, pastures and vineyards.
As Lorenzo spoke, I seemed to enter this world with him, and we chatted and laughed and licked excellent olive oil off our fingers, eager to savor every molecule of the food and this evening together. It was familiar yet new, deeply calming and exciting at the same time. As Lorenzo reached up to the top shelf for more wineglasses, I couldn’t help finally letting my eyes roam freely over his body – which he caught me at as he turned back to the table. He didn’t flinch, even meeting my gaze with a small question in his tawny eyes, before looking down to pour the wine.
We had begun with Moscato d’Asti, of course, the perfumed essence of the Moscato grape, lightly sparkling, lightly sweet in a way that complemented the artisanal cheeses and breads we had chosen for our Spring dinner. But as we moved on to the next course, Lorenzo opened a fresh Piemontese red wine. Then we decided to toast some bread in the oven for our next dish, crostone con peperone. For the first time we were alone together in my tiny kitchen, brushing by each other, with electricity in each accidental touch. The acrid smell of the bread beginning to burn startled us back into the present tense.
Not looking at each other, we rescued the bread and piled on the brightly-colored fresh peppers marinated in succulent olive oil. At the same moment, we reached toward the platter to replenish our plates. Our hands met. A touch. A glance. A pause.