Celebrating “Our Italian Heritage 2014” as a painter: Ravioli and Michelangelo

The Libyan Sibyl, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, by Michelanglo Buonarroti, 1508-12

The Libyan Sibyl, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, by Michelanglo Buonarroti, 1508-12

I love this painting. Michelangelo created his brilliant interpretation of the human form, and the colors here are just exquisite; they say, “Italy” to me. Apparently the Libyan Sibyl was a prophet, and was known for her prophecy of the coming of a king born of a virgin. It sounds like the Messiah’s birth story. So I suppose that is how a mythical figure became a part of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

My art story took me to Europe in 1972 as a history major who loved art, and I came back with a painter’s heart. My girlfriend Terry remembers the morning we entered the Sistine Chapel, probably the first tourists in the big room. We were so overwhelmed that we just laid down on our backs on the floor of the Sistine Chapel, to take in the entire ceiling as best we could! Of course, you could never do that in this day and age. I felt privileged, and still do! We joined the other students who were backpacking through Europe that year, and Italy was one of my main destinations.

Tonight I made ravioli. My grandma Helen made hers from scratch. After she formed the stuffed ravioli, she laid them all on clean cloths on a bed in her guest room to dry. It was a spectacular and unusual sight for a little girl from the suburbs of Denver. I made ravioli like hers in college, from scratch. It was an all day thing for me! I had more time back then…

My version of ravioli tonight: I boiled the frozen cheese ravioli from the market, and then baked it off in the oven with marinara sauce and dollops of spinach/parmesan cheese dip in spoonfuls around the baking dish, with grated parmesan over the top. 20 minutes finished it off, and I sprinkled with red pepper flakes for serving. It was a delicious and quick dinner for us. Grandma would have added the red pepper flakes, and I did that too.

I think it is better to make ravioli our own way than to never make it at all. I was missing my Grandma Helen tonight, but glad to have her memories. Secret: I have a ravioli maker gizmo in my pantry, and someday will use it to make ravioli from scratch, like Grandma did. Maybe after I finish all these paintings for the art show in April. That would be a good celebration idea.

Art and Ravioli, that’s my comfort food!

Do you have any stories of making special recipes from your own family? I would LOVE to hear them, and any other comments, as always.



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