Chapter 45 The Knife Fight in the Kitchen

Cesare Sacco didn’t come alone to America via ship emanating from Napoli. One of his best friends was Roberto Torchia who was also a cousin. The sindaco (mayor) of Miglierina had heard stories of this Roberto Torchia–more myths, perhaps? In 2001 the sindaco told me of Torchia’s craftiness, another PhD in furbizia like my nonno. It made absolute sense, given the story my Uncle Gene told me several years earlier.

It was rumored that my nonno and his best friend connived their way through the Great Depressions, the particulars of which I am currently ignorant. But, I do know this:

Roberto Torchia hung around the Sacco house on a regular basis, probably to the silent consternation of my nonna. During his comings and goings, it seems that the said Torchia made long-distance phone calls to Miglierina when my nonno‘s attention was diverted elsewhere. On the tenth of the month, the phone bill arrives, my nonno opens it, swearing at the top of his voice. Torchia had run up over $1,000 in long-distance charges in the middle of the Great Depression! Torchia comes over, unaware of the arrival of the phone bill, and catches hell from my nonno. I have no idea who pulled out their stiletto first, but a knife fight ensured.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how the fight ended, who got cut or even whether their friendship survived. Uncle Gene didn’t know. I guess he was too focused on a knife fight breaking out in his kitchen. The moral of the story is that Cesare Sacco got out-conned by a better con man. That’s hilarious in itself.

The irony in this story is that Mimmo Torchia, a miglierinese, is my Facebook friend, and probably a distance cousin of ours like everyone in Miglierina. I can’t wait to sit down with him over a strong Calabrese coffee, topped off with panna (thick cream), reminiscing and laughing over the story. Then, I want to see if I can collect on the $1,000 his nonno owes mine. Just kidding!


About growingupcalabrese

Professor of French and Italian at San Diego State University
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