They were truffles.
From the Northern Italian countryside.
Giancarlo Franceschi, a farmer, poet, and ex-partisan of the Italian Resistance, met Claire and Maxwell on one of their excursions through Italy, en route to Switzerland. Whilst sipping café classico at a quaint trattoria, a chocolate Sussex spaniel befriended the lady Mulberry, the allure of almonds and cocoa proving too much to bear. Giancarlo, in his tweed jacket, linen pants, shirt, twill cap, and oak walking stick, would arrive to find his beloved Rocco nibbling on an almond biscotto. Through Rocco’s discerning nose, Claire gained another purveyor of taste in Mr. Franceschi.
They corresponded through letters. Giancarlo did not subscribe to the advances of the technological world, choosing instead to believe in the character of a thing. They discussed spices, flavor combinations, soil types, gradient variations in terrain, and a host of other variables. Though she studied under Lenôtre, Claire’s conversations with the warrior-poet inspired and proved more useful than decades spent in a French kitchen.
It was upon a stroll through the hills of Alba that Giancarlo slew his quail dinner, but it was Rocco’s nose that unearthed the half-kilo truffle, harboring at the foot of an oak tree. Together, they embarked into town toward the post dispatch to ship the mushroom correspondence, though it was Rocco who signed the parcel.
Now, as the white truffle cream sauce simmered on the stovetop, Claire’s thoughts wandered toward the travels of another.
“Where has he been?”
Maxwell introduced ice to his whiskey.
“I’m not certain.”
Claire extinguished the flame and removed the pan from the stove.
“I thought he was…”
She paused, mindful of her husband’s affectivity.
She tried to rephrase, but could not find the words.
“Where is he staying?”
Maxwell looked up from his glass, his eyes bearing the traits of its contents, inhaling his wife through his gaze.
Claire knew that look.
She did not know that Benjamin stood patiently in the midnight foyer, admiring their chocolate walls.
Implode. Part IX – DK