Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I have become a firm believer in the concept of providence in my life. In My First Best Friend, I included a section about how "chance" brought old friends together. This past week, I had an incident in my life that I think qualifies as providential.

When I was in college, I worked summers and vacations at a wonderful sandwich shop and bakery in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For readers of Packing for a Woman's Journey, you might recall the story I wrote about the staff and how supportive they were of me and my college years. Recently, for some reason I can't really explain, I decided to see if the bakery was still operating. I knew in my heart of hearts it was not--but there might be a historical reference online to refresh my mind as to the address. Certainly the city has changed.

I found a few references to ads that the Harkabus Bakery & Sandwich Shop has placed over the years--and then, astonishingly, a reference in a new book called Keeping the Feast. The author, Paula Butturini, recalled going there with her mother whenever her mother developed a yen for a cream cheese on date nut bread sandwich.

Like a duck on a junebug, I ordered the book--and decided to write an email to the author, who has a very good website. I asked Paula if she could guide me to the Harkabus reference, and I told her a little about me and my connection to this place which she described so affectionately. Paula wrote right back!

Paula's book is not just about food memories of growing up Italian in Bridgeport and what that meant in her life, especially the food memories. It is a testament to the daily eloquence of preparing and enjoying meals in many circumstances. I hope you will look into the book as it is an inspiration as to how to deal with what most of us would deem almost insurmountable. Her experiences as a foreign correspondent are not ones that most of us would encounter. But she talks to her readers in a vernacular of fruit, vegetables, and the ingredients that sustain us.

Paula and I seemed to have a lot in common--including wonderful Italian grandfathers who brought drama to our appreciation of food and family. I feel that I know her--and hope that we can find a way to visit face to face one of these days.

I have to thank Providence and the internet for bringing me a new vision of the important things in life, and of what has been something I have always believed in: the power of love and the importance of memory in our lives. Do look into Paula's book. I guarantee you it will reward you in many ways. And if you love to cook, you will be humming in the kitchen, chopping away at garlic and sauteing rice in good olive oil in no time at all.


  1. Thank you for this compelling and personal review, Nancy - I've ordered the book now and look forward to it. You enriched my life in so many ways in your time as the editor of Victoria, and I'm glad that you continue to do so with your writing online these days. Dianne

  2. Just when I had almost finished my latest read and was casting about for a new one, Nancy, along comes Providence in the form of your post! Thanks for the review and I'm going to search out that book asap! Wonderful story, wonderful connection. Isn't life grand?
    Warmly, Karen Marline

  3. I love your book recommendations. I am now enjoy The Pantry and will definitely check this out. Food and the internet definitely bring people together.

  4. Thanks for the recommendation. Did you find what had become of the bakery?