Chickens can fly

My Isreali neighbour had alerted me a week in advance. His nephew would arrive at Milan and the next day he would travel on to the south where he’s studying. Would I be able to pick him up from the train station? And while he was coming, what did I want him to bring over to me?

I remembered delicious baked fritters (called silk) filled with thyme leaves I had eaten at their place. I dreamed of biting into one and sipping a cup of black tea with sugar. That was my wishlist.

When the day came, my neighbour informed me his nephew would arrive at 5 pm. I rushed out of work allowing time for the drive to the local airport. Chatting in the car, it dawned upon me the time was not to be intended so literally. It was very naïve of me to have taken it at face value.

It was only when we got to the terminal that my friend was able to find out exactly at what time the plane was due. He returned to the drop-off lane to announce rather casually that the plane was not to be expected until one hour and a half later. He must have calculated the arrival time based on departure and duration, but he hadn’t taken into account the time zone. We had nothing else to do than have a coffee and kill the time pacing up and down the hall.

At long last the monitors displayed that the plane had touched down. We moved to the arrivals area and placed a long-distance call to the boy’s mother in Israel. Through her brother’s live report she started following the stages leading up to the moment her son emerged from the sliding doors. It was like live coverage given to a jet-setting VIP, but there was also talk about something very exciting that had happened in the family.

The much-awaited traveller showed up lugging a huge suitcase that in size reminded more of a wardrobe on wheels. We squeezed it into the car boot and made it back home.

The talk was all about the exciting titbit that was being commented upon by every member of the large family, here in Italy as well as across the sea in Israel. The day before, a cousin had eloped with his girlfriend to circumvent her parents’ opposition to her marrying him. They had absconded for one night, after which he had broken the news of his plot. To prevent further scandal and blemish to the reputation of their respective families, a betrothal ceremony had to be arranged in haste.

Again, we were on a hot line with the scene of events. At that precise time, the two young people were signing the engagement contract and everything was going to be over soon excepting the tittle-tattle, which would take longer to subside. We learned that as a moral affront, the grandfather had not been invited by the maid’s family, themselves related to him.

When they came to my home for dinner, in addition to the silk, I was given a box of dates, one of sweets and kebbeh. If he had brought everyone as much food as he was giving me, plus some for himself, I realised why the suitcase was such a tremendous size. But that was not all. Out of another bag came a tinfoil-wrapped parcel that I was instructed to put into the oven and finish grilling it. It was a delicious stuffed chicken that had come flying right from Israel!