A Taste of Home

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Home? This is what I'm supposed to call my home now? It may be a house but in no way will this ever be a home. My real home is nearly 4,000 miles away.

I'm Suzi Schillacia and I'm from Italy. Sicily, to be more exact. Back in Sicily, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I actually had things to do. Sicily also doesn't have a massive garbage pile on the side of the street. So unsanitary! There are even plants growing from it!

Okay, I'll admit that was a little mean. People are growing their own random plants in the disgusting heap. It drives me crazy to see what these evil people (that obviously know nothing about plants) are doing to the poor little defenseless organisms. My window looks out at the "garden" on Gibb Street, so I spend much time watching the plants. I've given them each names. Sometimes I will say things to them like, "Oh Bianca you poor thing, you look ever so thirsty!' or "Gino, I will miss you when lady bugs and grubs eat you up." None of these gardeners know how to treat such issues as do I. Back in my home, my parents, brother and I were farmers. It became difficult after technology arrived. Plus there were so many other farmers that always knew which of their crops would sell the most so they invested money into what turned out to be success. They were always one step ahead of the game. That’s how we lost our farm.

So now I'm stuck in this heap. I miss home so much. All of my family is still out there except my cousin Julia. Her descendents left England in the mid 1600's. She lives in San Diego now. There are also the few that survived in Poland. My mother and her father fled for Italy avoiding war and concentration camps. My grandmother and uncle weren't so lucky though. I miss all of the sites of Europe. Sure the only sites we saw were grass and a few other houses, but it's better than a make-shift garden. I especially miss all of the smells. The greenness of the crops, the overpoweringly mouthwatering smell of spaghetti sauce, and my most favorite of all, pizza.

Grandma Caggiano's pizza made me feel like I've died and gone to heaven. The dough is as fluffy as clouds; the sauce is an endless dreamy lake of fresh tomatoes and the perfect spices. And don't even get me started on all that melted cheese! I would give anything just to have that pizza again.

The next morning I nearly fell out of bed with excitement when I woke up. I had an incredible epiphany in the form of the most amazing dream last night! Almost as if grandma Caggiano was trying to tell me something. If I wanted pizza so bad, I'll get it! When moving here I swore I saw some pizza shop a few blocks down.

Horrible. Horrendous. Never will I go to Pat & Pete's Pizza Parlor Place again. It didn't even taste like pizza. It was served on a lunch tray, paper thin crust and the cheese and sauce ratio was all messed up! Maybe next time I'll try Chuck E. Cheese's. At least they have an arcade. On the way back to my apartment on Gibb Street, I pass a gym called Kapp's Gym. It'd be a great way to burn calories from failure pizza. Plus I love Gymnastics! I'm the best on my team, or I was the best on my old team. I was so good I could do a round off followed by five straight backhand springs with a double back tuck to finish. I stepped in the door, but it wasn't like the gym I was used to. Weights, machines and contraptions… oh my! And only two girls or I guess I should say "women". I didn't understand why there were no mats, vaults, beams or bars of any kind. It's not my comfort zone, but I guess I'll try it. I twisted my wavy blonde hair into a pony tail and sat in some contraption next to a boy about 25 years old I'd say. He baffled me because before I came to Cleveland, I'd never seen a black man. He told me how the contraption worked. Though he was a vivid explainer, I could never use one of these monstrous machines correctly even if my life depended on it! He told me his name was Curtis and that he comes here every day to work out to try to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, Lateesha. He also shared that he grew the tomatoes on Gibb Street. He must be the father of Loretta, the tomato plant. He shared that anyone can grow something and that gave me an idea…

I bolted to the supermarket and grabbed basil and tomato seeds. I ran back to my apartment, up all three flights of stairs, grabbed a spoon and a cup of water and went back down the stairs. I was very careful when I planted the seeds. I used every technique I had learned throughout my farming years. I found a nice, dark, nutrient-rich plot of dirt. I spun my spoon down in the soil, exactly 3 centimeters. I dropped one basil seed down the hole, sprinkled a few drops of water in it, closed the hole with more dirt, and then I sprinkled some water on top of that. I did the same with the tomato seed except I used more water for it.

Waiting for the basil and tomatoes to grow was absolutely agonizing! Every day I have to look out of my window and see almost no change. I decided that after a week of no action, I would sing to them when I watered them. I got the idea from a couple others doing the same. The day after I started this new habit, my tomato plant sprouted.

Finally after they were fully grown, I harvested them. Curtis helped me pick the tomatoes just right so their juicy insides wouldn't burst the soft skin, making the tomato completely useless. The basil smelled and felt so fresh and the tomatoes looked enticing and mouth watering. But when I tried making them into pizza sauce, every sample tasted bad. Maybe not necessarily bad, just not right or perfect. It had to be perfect. Too much basil, not enough, the sauce tastes like feet and many more problems almost too hard to be able to fix. After about 23 tries, I finally got the sauce to be perfect. I spread it over the perfectly floured dough and toss mozzarella cheese evenly over the red pool of pulverized tomatoes. The smell of it baking in the oven was pure torture. Like Adam and Eve, I couldn't yet have something so delicious that it was taunting me in the face. I smelled the warmth of the dough baking and I felt like I could taste it. My father walked in the door from worked and sniffed the air. "What on earth is in the oven? It smells like home." He asked curiously and almost sounded a little suspicious. "I grew tomatoes and basil across the street. I made pizza, just like Gammy. I made it for supper." I explained. "Ella, Tony get in here," he called my mother and brother. "Our little girl made supper."

The pizza was amazing! It tasted even better than the best dream! My family loved it and my dad even grew tears in his eyes as he remembered his mother. My whole family was very proud of me. Maybe it was even better than Grandma Caggiano's. Maybe, just maybe.





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