As night started to finally fall, my mother, father and I started to walk towards the apartment. We had found Ristoranti Osteria Zio Gigi merely by desperate convenience. Arriving earlier that day, my parents were a swilled mix of hunger, tired and jet-lagged. It was the closest restaurant to my flat and only four doors away. Gigi, the owner, was tended to the shorter side yet stout with a full dark bread and round white eyes and a head of wavy brown hair. He sang. He sang to me in Italian, he sang to my father. They did not share a common language but my father and Gigi talked all night, somehow. Dad would end up being a 'regular' there for the duration of their three week trip to see me in Florence, Italy.
As we walked towards the apartment, the food pusher came alive.
“Let's go find a gelato. I have to try this stuff that I read about,” Dad said.
“Dad, I can not possibly stuff another morsel into me. We had three courses and already shared a dessert. I can't,” I said.
“Judy, what about you? We came all this way and we have to find the best gelato shop in town. Which way do you think we should go?” he said turning to my mother.
Typical Italy with a gelato shop in almost every block, he stared down at the mounds of the soft semi-frozen cream. Mom had already researched so many things about the trip and informed us that “Gelato typically has less than half the fat of ice cream and usually less sugar too.” They taste tested small spoonfuls of Nutella, fruit and coffee flavored gelato before deciding on a cup to share.
“Are you sure you don't want to have a mini size gelato, come on Anna?” he pleaded. I was not sure why my father needed to feed us to show his love but this was his way with all his children. We were subjected to the end-of-dinner food-pushing love.
“Have another drum leg, there's plenty left. Can I get you some more green beans. There's one more slice of bread left, have it.” It never stopped.
Some days he was unrelenting and I would have to bark at him to back off in fear that I would just eat myself to the size of a Pillsbury dough girl. Was he afraid that the older he got, he might not be able to see me? Or I would just shrivel up from the lack of nourishment to the body as well as my soul.
Today was different, we were exploring new worlds together. How could I deny our “first gelato” together. My request was the “mini” and I received the equivalent of a quart of ice cream overflowing on top of the mini cup. How the world was I going to finish this? He stared at me with utter delight of a young child awaiting presents under the Christmas tree to be open.
“So, how do you like yours?”
“Dad, it's really good. Thanks for suggesting we get one.” I could see his weird happiness.
“Anna, we have to start early tomorrow. I think after lunch and dinner we should try two new places. We have to find the very best gelato in town before I leave.” He was on a roll. “Maybe we should have one in the morning too.”
I wondered how I would balance the love and attention disguised in massive caloric intake over the next three weeks.