Today millions of Americans have traveled near and far to see their families and loved ones to give thanks for what we have. Whether you’ve just gone over the river and through the woods, or flown across the continent, this annual trek isn’t an obligation. It’s a tradition. The question isn’t really how far you’d travel for a home cooked meal, but when can you get there?
After jumping the pond to Paris, going the extra mile to Finale for a few days seems like nothing. It is really about 400 miles and I arrive late Thursday evening just before a big storm. The next morning, I make my way to Finalborgo where the town is bracing for rain and possible floods. Nonetheless, my unannounced visit is still welcome. I say hello to the sisters at the coffee shop, Alessandro in his workshop, and even have surprise run in with Heinz, who is usually managing a Swiss hut this time of year.
At noon, I walk into the butcher shop where the couple who adopted me as a sister work. This time, my Italian is even better and the customers wait as we exchange hugs and kisses. Within minutes, I am invited to lunch and the surprise visit becomes an impromptu party. Danilo runs next door for a bottle of wine. Carolina calls home to set an extra plate. In true Italian fashion, an average lunch for them is a feast for an American. On the menu: polenta, cinghale stew (wild boar), carne crudo, anchovies, and of course an array of desserts and coffee.
By 2:30, the family continues its normal routine. The dog chews on pillows, the kids eat the peanut butter I brought, and Danilo leaves for a siesta. I help Carolina clear the table. “You are our family,” she says with a hug. They do not need to feed me to make this statement true. But it sure is nice, and I make my Italian sister a promise: No matter where I am in Europe, I will always come to Finale for lunch.