“Are these tortellini store-bought?” by Steve Dandaneau

Feb 17th, 2021 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Store-bought? Blasphemy. The wheat, I harvested it, in the old ways, scythe razor sharp and back firm. The cheese, from cows I first midwifed and nurtured, and once grown, gently milked, and the milk I curdled in my own hands. These tortellini I was first to name, for before me they crossed our lips as spaghetti, or still prior, as sketty, all noodles of the pasta variety subsumed thusly.

Did you notice green tortellini mixed with those lacking verdant hue? There is no mistake. Your mosaic bowl is not the result of process engineering at Plant No. 8 of Foodmark, Incorporated, whatever false witness sayeth. Verily did I grow spinach in soil that I created myself, cups of clay and baskets of compost did I marry. And when my spinach reached the age of majority, did I call it onto me.

Kitchen and field both are my sanctuary, their implements extensions of my culinary imagination, their spaces vessels that I fill with caloric edibles and digested perfume anon. Turning kernel to flour and flour to noodle paste is analogue to water and wine with hint of sacrilege. From such machinations and alchemy did these tortellini arise, I attest onto thee, hand and heart aligned. Consult ye no priest nor food scientist, read not wickedness etched on cardboard urn.

As proof, if still more proof is what will sate you, consider that the pesto is no different. What hand but my hand turned the basil and added pine nut? Do I not grow olive trees behind our dwelling? Does thou not see a vast grove of olive trees? Gaze, child, upon the bounty. Am I not known as the King of Garlic, and on fortnights during odd months, as His Royal Highness, Garlic King III? (It is a question rhetorically posed. I am, as is known throughout the land.) Are there not messengers from afar, sent from distant shores, and the royal families with dominion over them, beseeching me that I impart upon them my recipes?

What, you still doubt? Look upon these sun-dried tomatoes, which add color as well as flavor to my presentation. Do you forsake them as mine own, the product of my garden, drinking the oils born of my presses? There is a jar, you say, yes, a labeled jar. I look upon it with familiarity, and affection. Have you forgotten that I forge glass, turn metal, and am literate. Many can, but the few and the proud jar.

The plate on which I serve these tortellini is the plate I crafted as Wedgewood crafted. The utensils are those which, by my own hand, I carved from stainless steel, making sure that we dine using a family of iron-based alloys which, by my own decree, must have no less than eleven percent chromium—yes, your ears do not deceive, chromium—a composition that is to iron as the Southland is to automobiles, both prophylactic of rust.

Do you wish me grind hard cheese over cheese-infused tortellini, making shred of it, and compounding cheese with cheese? It is not gluttonous to so garnish. It is not an affrontery to the commandment against cheese mixing. The Lord has provided many cheeses, this, since Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar gazed upon the baby cheeses.

Do you wish me to provide leavened bread, the bread of the Franks, baked in my oven and sliced across its grain, and then buttered liberally with spread churned from our store of milk? You may partake, but do not substitute its bounty for dried tomato and tortellini, nor indulge overly in the spread. We are not a clan whose allegiance is to the Butterton Crest, nor at war with vegetables are we.

If in thy heart there grows hardness toward tortellini born of such love and tenderness, and if there is no more loaf, and no more spread; if the tang of sundried tomato causes stomach juices tumult; if basil, pine nut, garlic and olive oil on your tongue is not sweet; if this sumptuous meal is not fit for thee, my little prince; I besmirch you then to motility in the interest of fresh hands and face, and to slumber or appearance thereof.

One day, when the land has many times over absorbed rays from the sun and felt the whip of frozen sorrow, shall ye sit at my table and cast eyes longing for tortellini. Then shall ye know wisdom, and our house shall know peace.


Steve Dandaneau lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, and in fear of Thomas Midgely, Jr., the inventor of leaded gasoline and Freon™ and as such among the most harmful organisms to have ever walked the face of earth. When he is not fearing the consequences of Thomas Midgely, Jr.’s staggering ingenuity, Dandaneau fears coming to resemble Midgely, and admits to a growing and seemingly irrepressible fondness for heavy black horned-rim glasses. Dandaneau is the author of a novel, Say Hey Little Prince (Owl Canyon Press, 2020), which, like its eponymous cousin, is serially sardonic even though no laughing matter.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.