Bella Rossa was a restaurant where I spent much happy food time with friends. And alone with books and tea. It opened the same year I helped to start Wabash River Books with Tim Kelley and Todd Nation. Patrick and Molly used to go get us lunch on the two days a week we staffed the shop. They felt very grown-up, walking about downtown by themselves, greeting people. I remember thinking that it was rather wonderful that the whole family* was in a several block radius - Paul at the University, Shaun…if he wasn’t at the Tribune-Star newspaper yet (2 blocks south), he was at ISU as well, and his first apartment was around the corner.
I’m thinking about these things this morning because of these things:
When Bella Rossa closed, Norbert the owner sold all the stuff. The big dry-erase menu board is now in the children’s wing at the Unitarian Universalist church. And I have one of the small iron teapots, a simple white bowl, and a spoon** that became the only spoon I ever want to use. I eat my oatmeal and barley every morning out of this bowl and when I travel, the spoon and the bowl travel with me. They center me, I think.
I just realized that my cutting board was purchased at Bella Rossa as well. Long before it closed. The board was handmade by Jim Campbell, the husband of Marie - a friend of mine for years and years, in our food buying club and later at the UU church. They moved away to Nashville. I hope they are well.
These things delight me to own. They are a pleasure to use and they have magical powers. They are catalysts for memories of the most pleasant kind.
* 'Whole family' meaning those of us in Terre Haute, Paul, me, Shaun, Patrick and Molly. Eldest son Ian and his wife Lisa are always with me in spirit and internet, but physically have been far away for more than two decades - over the years that has meant their own lives in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Florida, Washington, Vancouver, and now, Massachusetts.
**I confess the spoon in the picture might not be the exact spoon I got from Bella Rossa. I truly liked it so much, the shape of so deeply pleased my eye and my mouth and my hand, that I searched out the pattern (Creation I by International Stainless) and bought three more on eBay. And discovered that the forks, too, please me. So now I no longer suffer the aesthetic discomfort of using the badly weighted, ugly Martha Stewart forks I got at K-Mart in what was obviously a bout of temporary insanity, a fit of design-blindness.