The Cooking Lesson

By Gita Smith

“It’s missing something.”
Marti hands me back the tasting spoon and surveys my spice collection. Deciding it’s thyme and garlic that my spaghetti sauce needs, she chops the ingredients that I’d gathered earlier from the hothouse.
We are sipping Bolla Valpolicella, bumping into each other the way friends do in a galley-sized kitchen and not minding at all. I turn up the flame under a pot of water for the pasta. This is Sunday afternoon at its best, with Corinne Bailey Rae on the stereo and nothing to do but cook comfort food.
“So,” I begin, embarking on the topic we both knew would eventually come up, “have you decided what you want to do about Fabio yet?”
Everyone in Marti’s circle has been following the Fabio chronicles for months, agog. This man, the clear winner of the World-Series-of-Courtship, has been pursuing Marti across two continents. His romantic overtures are swoon-inducing and unparalleled. Every time she hesitates, he ups the ante. He has given her diamond earrings, a Maltese puppy, tickets to see Tosca at La Scala (and the air fare to fly to Milan where he met her at the airport and swept her into a waiting Lamborghini Reventon).
“Why are you so lukewarm?” and “What’s not to love?” her friends keep asking.
Marti gazes at me frankly over the rim of her wineglass.
“I’m being badgered.”
I stir the sauce because I don’t know what to say. Marti pressured is Marti clamped up, shut down, backed off. I check the garlic level with a new tasting spoon. It’s just shy of overwhelming. But the sauce still needs something.
“I’m not badgering you, Hon,” I say.
“Not you. Fabio.”
“Well, all you have to do is say ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ La ringrazio, ma no. And if you want to be a mensch while you’re at it, tell him why.”
Marti’s look is suddenly, deeply sad, and I realize that my favorite drama queen has not told me the whole story.
This man, whom she met by chance at a Jackson Pollack retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum three months earlier, is cultured, educated, wealthy and head-over-heels in love with her. He calls her every morning from Italy to wish her a wonderful day. When he arrives in the USA on business, he visits her and graciously includes her family and friends in all invitations to dine out or go to the theater. I met him one evening at Cirque de Soleil, and I was charmed by his beautifully accented English.
Our spaghetti carbonara and insalata verde are ready. Marti and I seat ourselves at my dining room table, top off our wine and tuck into the rich, hot food. As if I’d just asked the question, she suddenly starts talking.
“Fabio is everything you see, but also much you don’t see,” she says. “His money isn’t just dirty. It’s filthy dirty. If I married him, I would be living on blood money.”
I’m stunned.
“Before you say anything, let me show you,” Marti says, pulling up her sleeve to reveal a bracelet.
The quality of the diamonds is, to my naked eye, fantastic. The stones are brilliant, clear and exquisitely cut. I’m fairly sure that a loupe would confirm what I suspect: Fabio has given her the best of the best.
“Sierra Leone diamonds. That’s how he makes his money,” she whispers.
“Oh, no, honey!” is all I can say. “Maybe you’re wrong?”
Marti shakes her head and pulls down her sleeve.
Aside from the deBeers family, Fabio owns the largest diamond share in the world, she says.
“Botswana wouldn’t let him in because that country nationalized its diamond mines and pays the workers fair wages. Fabio backed the corrupt and brutal regime in Sierra Leone in order to control the mines there.”
She shakes her head slowly.
“The worst part of all? He told me the truth about his business because he assumed I would approve. I’ve been wrong to accept anything from him. I’m giving the jewelry back tomorrow when he flies in, and I’m breaking up. I don’t want any part of it.”
We sit quietly for a bit, and I understand that, to her credit, Marti has been grappling with her decision while the rest of us have been fantasizing enviously about her great luck at meeting the man.
I poke at my spaghetti, and when I look up, Marti’s smiling.
“What?” I ask.
“Fabio’s like your cooking,” she says, the old mischief returning to her eyes.
“They both look good and tempting. They’re both hot at first. But when you get down to it, they’re both missing a key ingredient.”

About vision791

Pushcart nominee Jeanette Cheezum has been published on several online writing sites and in fifteen Anthology books and four poetry books. Three of these books have made the New York Times Best Sellers list. Awarded The Helium Networks Premium Writer’s Badge, Bronze Creative Writing Award and a Marketplace Writers award. Recently she has published thirteen ebooks at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. You may find a list of some of her work at

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Edit

21 Responses to The Cooking Lesson

  1. Elliott Cox says:

    “Marti pressured is Marti clamped up, shut down, backed off.” I love that sentence. If you don’t mind (or even if you do), I’ll be taking that one for personal use.

  2. love the same line elliott does, but i also like that she was grappling while others were envious. that’s so true to life – we are often jealous but it’s simply because we don’t have all the dirt. and your premise is so worldly. great stuff, gita!

  3. bobbietroy says:

    Engaging. Loved it!

  4. cathaber1 says:

    You tell such great stories Gita. Nicely tied up.

  5. harrybsanderford says:

    “the clear winner of the World-Series-of-Courtship” had to have some “miner” flaw.

    No imperfections in this gem Gita!

  6. pauldbrazill says:

    Oh, very well done. A beaut.

  7. As all of Gita’s stories, this one holds together well and the dialogue is really good!

  8. edean1 says:

    Engaging, informative and entertaining as always Gita.
    You dance beautifully and prolifically through the political landscape.

    Luv’d HBS remark. I’m a sucker for puns!

  9. kathleengabriel says:

    Ha! This is heart-touching, but leaves me with a light feeling.

  10. Well done, G. I can smell the garlic and see the blood diamonds.

  11. mdjb says:

    I love the way you tell a story in a nice comfy cozy setting with the larger drama outside the frame, but not so far away (emotionally) that we can’t feel it intruding on the conversation. I love your characterization, too, always very real people. You’re a wonder, Gita Smith.

  12. Kristine_ES says:

    How could there be a downside? Of *course* there was a downside..he was too perfect. Marti’s making the right decision and she’s got a good friend there, too.

    I learned a lot reading this one, Gita, in that everything was character and plot but you didn’t have to explain/demonstrate everything. You just “get” it because it reads so well.

  13. gita8 says:

    Thank you ALL so much for your support. I wrote this especially for Jeanette when she invited me to contribute, and it does my heart good to know it has been read and enjoyed.

  14. Damn! I don’t know if I loved the smell from the kitchen spicing up this rich, textured tale or the fact that your protagonist has a loupe! Way swingin’ cool Gita, so much so that I can practically see you grinnin’ outta the side of your mouth at the keyboard, adding in Botswana, Jackson Pollock, La Scala and Cirque de Soleil and smilin’ in a “Take that Jeanette!” manner.

    Well, that’s just my musin’ but you spun this one ‘richly’ ~ “This is Sunday afternoon at its best, with Corinne Bailey Rae on the stereo and nothing to do but cook comfort food.” That lovely line was what readin’ this lovely piece was like, right down to your closin’ line bein’ your opener. Brava bella donna.

    Though Har punned the best, Mike Handley is always such a handy observer. Now, since you’re lettin’ folks steal your charmer lines, I’m globbin’ this one:

    “His romantic overtures are swoon-inducing and unparalleled.”

    Thanks for this read. It ‘sent’ me.
    ~ Absolutely*Kate (still grinnin’ when she runs into Gita holdin’ stage in a crowded room – she’s got chutzpah, that gal)

  15. PS-commento:

    Gita -TITLE was served up perfecto!
    ~ Absolutely*Kate



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Warsaw Moon By Paul Brazill

via Warsaw Moon By Paul Brazill

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Laura Zucca-Scott

Winter Night
Away from the city lights
Clouds are running
In the winter night
All is still but the sky
Stars dancing
In the reflection of our eyes
Silence surrounds us
Like a cat’s tail

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Gwen Monohan

Arbor Party
High on the grape arbor
a thistle feeder rests
with a platform beneath
to hold the suet cage.
Plus stray puddles of seed
and the feet of many guests.

Watching from our window,
binoculars held level,
we marveled at the
social action of those feeding
at the table and range of
feathers found there.

We hoisted last summer
the sturdy arbor poles
with cross-pieces of trim
also used for floors.
Why make the arch so strong
for just spindly vines to climb?

Yet long curving stems,
not coiling near the ground,
(taking root at every bend),
have found a perching tower
where bunches soon will swell
and our savvy friends gather


Gwen is a teacher and caregiver currently residing in the Virginia piedmont near grandchildren and family.
In past years she’s been published in several journals: BLUELINE, COE REVIEW,
and BIG MUDDY, among others.
More recently she’s had success on-line with my poetry at Vox Poetica, Camel
saloon, and now cavalcade of stars.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bobbie Troy

Underneath It All
By Bobbie Troy

sometimes I feel
like a suspension bridge
swaying in the air
held up by cables
that my life depends upon
and secretly hoping
that there is something
underneath it allca
to catch me
if I fall


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dr. Ralph Monday

Waking, at times the world seems a trick.
An angel locked in granite.
A yellow jacket sun poured like stone onto
the window.

All these things go by like a drunk searching

What were we before we became? How do we know
the past fragmented world, Dali’s mad dreams?
Then there are the blue mountains, dusty trails where
we walk with weak hands, think of Picasso’s
ripped geometrics.

History does not exist till read in books,
viewed as entertainment with the evening’s

We do not exist except as reflected back through
media: glossy covers that tell women how to have
the best sex, men how to rip a sixpack, as though
these are tender mercies needed to fill up days.

How then is truth.
There is always the mist, fog before us but what

How thin is truth.
Not found in greased gears, clacking cogs.
Perhaps the Iroquois song in God-scented

Lakota love of plains grazing buffalo.

Spring is ambiguous but fall the fullness of
mystery taken as an unrequited lover,
where sometimes a diamond tipped carbide
blade is needed to cut into the core & see
what is hidden, whether there really is a
kingdom of fog, of rain, childhood astonishment,
of a spreading cinematography rolled out through
the mind, of Constantine’s Cross & Mr. Hyde, of
Mara Corday & Marilyn & Mamie, all tossed
together like a restaurant salad, snapshots through
the lens we spy, mere fragments in a fragmented

To know that there is nothing to be
Known—not Ecclesiastes, not women with bare
feet, not the sun before dawn or the moon before
winter or a bird husking the last autumn seed—only
blank loneliness cradling us within its spell.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Douglas Polk Returns

Christmas Errands 

only another day on the calendar,
Christmas much more work,
when the children grown and gone,
the ability to believe,
stretched and stressed a number of degrees,
salvation seems now,
no more than a dream,
peace and good will,
muttered wishes,
under the breath,
the days dark and cold,
Christmas errands almost unbearable,
until eyes lock with a child of five or six,
while at the grocery store,
hope and joy,
beaming brightly from dancing eyes,
young eyes,
full of belief,
and the ability to save.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment