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[pc-pvt-content allow=”149″ message=”Please log in to view content.”][/pc-pvt-content]‘Giuseppe The Butler’

If you’re a man, it’s best not to think about it too much. I try not to, but still, the shame creeps in.

It’s difficult not to feel a bit like a girly girl around Giuseppe. Ask him to build a wall and he’ll have it done by noon, the bricks as perfect as a butterfly’s wing. Ask him to rewire the great hall of the castle and he’ll do it, unfazed that the ancient system cracks and pops just like the electrical lines that brought Frankenstein’s monster back to live. He’s an expert on a bulldozer, as if the machine’s controls skipped his hands and were wired directly to his brain. He can open a beer bottle, I swear, off just about anything.

Procure a pressure cooker at 10 pm? Miner’s head lamps to see into the wood-fired oven? Cuban cigars. A large chalk board. A case of grappa. Pasta flour where the wheat kernels were roasted and toasted while still on the plant. The mayor’s home phone number. Not only can Giuseppe find you these things in a small town in Southern Italy- I know because he’s found each for me- but he has the thing arriving, complete, washed, ready, before, it seems, you’ve even finished asking the question.

At first I just thought it was me, that I felt inferior in the manly-man things around him because I spent some much studying, rather than doing: All of that changed though, with the meatball.

A few years back I entered a room to catch a him talking into his cell phone, the tiny device smashed between his chin and shoulder while he salted ground meat, carefully forming it perfectly into a golf ball-sized meatball. He put on rubber gloves, filled a syringe from an upside-down narcotic bottle and then injected the meatball, all the while trouble-shooting a Cessna’s engine trouble over the line with the plane’s mechanic.

‘The Baron’s nephew’s dog barks at night and so I’m making him a special treat.You know, he really loves these, I think he’s a bit addicted’, he said.

‘You’re giving a dog a rufi’?

‘The hard part was climbing over the castle’s wall with the bathroom scale, just to get down to him , so I could figure the proper dose’.

It’s no wonder that the kitchen that Giuseppe and the Baron created for us at the castle is so remarkable. The two of them worked over my Lecce kitchen with tape measures, with the love of nuanced measurements I’ve only seen in dedicated tailors. They then multiplied by five, replicating my kitchen in iron, marble, stone and brick at the castle, right down to the slits in the marble where I like to keep my chef’s knives.

We’ve been hosting weeks at the castle for 5 years now, and I’ve gotten to know Giuseppe quite well. We’re friends.

During our courses, before the students wake, Giuseppe and I make the fish run together every morning, down to the stunning blue Adriatic. He always falls silent as we round the corner, when he sees the sea, perhaps noting that there is finally something that he can’t improve with his tinkering.


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