The Dough Sheeter

“Teach me dirty words” said Alessandro with a twinkle in his eyes and a wicked smile on his face.  “That way when I am mad, I curse in English and no one will know what I say.”

“Um,” I replied awkwardly. “I don’t know any dirty words. I’ll ask the boys when I get home if they know any.”   I was hoping he wouldn’t ask me again the next day.

“Do you want me to teach you how to curse in Italian?” he offered.

“No, thanks.  I don’t curse too often,” I answered.

Alessandro was making a large cauldron (as big as a washtub!) of macaroni and cheese for the employee meal.  Normally, it would be baked in the oven, but we were doing it on top of the stove.  I helped stir the pasta while he made the bechamel sauce.

In the afternoon, we made pasta dough in the big stand mixer.  Alessandro carried the dough over to the pastry sheeter and said.

“Do you remember how it works?  You try it.”

I stepped up to the machine and reached for the handle on the side that was like a long joy-stick.  I pulled it back and the dough went under the rollers and came out the other side.  Then I pushed the handle forward and the dough came back on the conveyor belt to where I was standing.

“Remember to lower the press each time you send it through,” he explained.  “Call me when you are done and I will help you wind it on the rolling pin so we can take it back to the marble table and make the ravioli and cannelloni.”  He left me with the machine.

This didn’t look hard.  I could do it.  I lowered the press one notch and pulled back on the joy stick.  The conveyor belt took the dough under the press.  I pushed it forward and the dough came back to greet me.  Lower the press, pull back on the handle.  Opps!  A little too hard.  The dough went flying under the press, off the end of the conveyor belt, hit the oven on the other side and fell in a lump to the floor just as Alessandro came back to check on me.

He raised his eyebrows in surprise, shook his head and muttered something I couldn’t understand as I deposited the dough in the trash can.

That afternoon as I emerged from the employee entrance of the hotel, one of the valets asked if I’d like a ride down to Amalfi.  He drove a Mercedes and operated the shuttle service that took hotel guests into town on the half hour.

“I am an employee,” I protested.  I” don’t think I should ride in the van.”

He looked at me admiringly and said, “You are wearing street clothes now.  You don’t look like an employee and it is okay.”

So, I climbed in for a ride to the village and got there early enough to browse through some of the gift shops before catching my bus.  I selected some bottles of deep green olive oil, ceramic spoon rests decorated with hand-painted lemons and heavenly lemon-scented soap to take home to my family and then headed back to Positano.




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