Linda Lappin

award-winning writer and writing teacher

Scene from Hitchcock's The Birds, adapted from Daphne Du Maurier's story

Islands are 4 Writers

View of the Port of Kiel

My first typewriter in Italy was a Lettera 22 Olivetti

Persephone in Bomarzo

The Mermaid with Two Tails

The Chimera of Arezzo, subject of Ugo Bardi's Il Libro della Chimera


The Hell Mouth of Bomarzo


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NOVELS
A New Mystery Novel Set in Bomarzo published in 2013 by Caravel Books, an Imprint of Pleasure Boat Studio
Runner up in Fiction, New York Book Festival, 2010 "Haunted... vivid... entrancing"... Kirkus Reviews Click here to read reviews, watch videos, and download the free Readers' Guide for Book Groups.
Katherine's Wish "A dazzling bit of fictional sorcery" David Lynn, editor Kenyon Review A new novel about the lives of Katherine Mansfield and her circle Gold Medal Winner in Historical Fiction, IPPY Awards
Writing Women's Lives
Essay on the life of the artist, Jeanne Hebuterne, wife of Modigliani
An essay about Katherine Mansfield

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A Writer's Life in Rome & Tuscia

ALONE WITH THE ROAST

November 25, 2013

Tags: roast beef, Rome


I was thirty, single, and had never cooked a roast. For many years I had been vegetarian and had lived in rented rooms in Rome without a kitchen. Those weren’t the only reasons. I didn’t believe I was capable. After moving into an apartment all my own, I wake up longing for roast beef.
I loved meat as a child: pineapple-glazed hams, pork loin with apricots, lamb with mint sauce -- I have yet to see their equals. Those perfect roasts were the product of science. It was my father, a chemist, who supervised the Sunday roast. A lover of good food, he mingled his gusto for all things natural with stern precision when it came to cooking times and temperatures and the strict observance of proper procedure. A candid snapshot of Sunday noon in our kitchen would show my father and mother leaning over the roasting pan, piercing the flesh with a skewer, scrutinizing the color of the liquid oozing from the tiny aperture. Is the meat done? Is it underdone? Will it be too dry? They never agreed. Oven thermometers, timers , glass measuring cups still stir in me a certain anxiety.
I get out an old cookbook and study oven roasting. Here too, science is required. How much liquid, if any? At what temperature? I shut the book and go off to my neighborhood butcher where I examine the cuts of beef displayed amid labyrinthine coils of brains , lungs like fuchsia sponges. The baleful, bloody eyes of a severed lamb’s head reproach me for my apostasy from vegetarianism.
I ask the butcher for a suitable cut to make rosbif al forno. A philosophical disquisition follows – would I prefer a girello, a lombata, a filetto, or a controfiletto? I have no idea, but tell him I have guests for dinner, my closest friend and my new boyfriend, and I want to impress them both.
Later, alone, with the roast, I try to remember my father’s gestures as he ministered the meat. I rub it with garlic, herbs, butter; pat it with flour, plop it in a pan, pouring in a generous cup of wine. I throw in some quartered potatoes – that was never done in my house – and dribble them with olive oil. My oven is a battered monstrosity from the fifties salvaged from a friend’s basement. It looks as though it has been fashioned with parts recycled from an allied tank. There’s only one setting: high – any lower and the flame goes out. This is folly, I think. I put the roast in and stand guard with a basting brush.
Soon a delicious smell spirals through the flat, delighting my friends when they arrive. When I pull the roast from the oven and pierce it with a fork, the color of the juice is just right. I carve the meat and serve the potatoes. I watch my friends set to with obvious pleasure. Their enjoyment for me is in itself a sort of nourishment. Perfect --- they say --- it’s perfect.