Here’s a passage from John Fante’s novel ‘The Brotherhood of the Grape’, describing the main character’s return to his parents’ home where his mother has made a meal:
The baked eggplant took me back to the childhood of my life when they were a nickel apiece and a great feast, purple globular marvels bulging jolly and generous, rich Arab uncles eager to fill our stomachs, so beautiful I wanted to cry.
The thin slices of veal had me fighting tears again as I washed them down with Joe Musso’s magnificent wine from the nearby foothills. And the gnocchi prepared in butter and milk finally did it. I covered my eyes over the plate and wept with joy, sopping my tears with a napkin, gurgling as if in my mother’s womb, so sweet and peaceful and filling my mouth with life forever. She saw my wet eyes, for there was no hiding them.
The kitchen. La cucina, the true mother country, this warm cave of the good witch deep in the desolate land of loneliness, with pots of sweet potions bubbling over the fire, a cavern of magic herbs, rosemary and thyme and sage and oregano, balm of the lotus that brought sanity to lunatics, peace to the troubled, joy to the joyless, this small twenty-by-twenty world, the altar a kitchen range, the magic circle a checkered tablecloth where the children fed, the old children, lured back to their beginnings, the taste of mother’s milk still haunting their memories, fragrance in the nostrils, eyes brightening, the wicked world receding as the old mother witch sheltered her brood from the wolves outside.
Beguiled and voracious Virgil filled his cheeks with gnocchi and eggplant and veal, and flooded them down his gullet with the fabulous grape of Joe Musso, spellbound, captivated, mooning over his great mother, enrapturing her with loving glances, even pausing midst his greed to lift her hand and kiss gratefully. She laughed to see how completely she had woven her spell…