The Zeppole Incident

March 23
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I have no trouble falling asleep, it’s the waking up part that kicks my ass. My eyes squeeze shut to reject the sunshine and my body pleads to stay cocooned inside the layers of cotton that have encased me securely up to my neck. I have to employ trickery on myself the night before to get me moving the morning. I have found the best motivator to be food, so I decide at bedtime what I will be having for breakfast in the morning – this gives me something to look forward to and even creates a little excitement. A sesame seed bagel with butter, toaster waffles with almond butter or french toast made by my six year old…all with a steamy cup of coffee to wash it down. And on a special morning, a delicate ball of fried dough with a fancy name.

Zeppole is Italy’s way of classing-up the doughnut hole. A little larger than a golfball, zeppole are puffy spheres of sweet doughy goodness dusted with powdered sugar. They have been deep-fried, creating a slightly crispy outside and a pillowy inside which when combined sing hallelujah in your mouth. Zeppole is not a breakfast I have as frequently as I would like, they are a treat that appear on my breakfast table a maximum of two times a year. They are the calling card of Mangia, a family style Italian restaurant that serves five courses of scrumptious cuisine and then sends you home with a small bag of zeppole to enjoy in the morning.

As I went to bed after my dinner at Mangia, I was giddy at the thought of enjoying my coffee with those magnificent zeppole the next morning. I practically ninja jumped my way out of bed and sped down the stairs to savor my breakfast treat before my kids woke up and discovered the bag on the counter. This was something I was not willing to share. The zeppole were mine alone and if I had to hide in a closet to have them all to myself, so be it.

When I step into the kitchen the bag is nowhere to be seen. Panic surges through veins. “This can’t be happening,” I think. “How did they beat me to it?” It occurs to me I must have hidden them somewhere the night before; surely I would not have been so careless as to leave them in plain sight. Frantically, I begin to throw open every cabinet and rummage through the shelves. No zeppole. I check my purse, the coat closet, the refrigerator. No zeppole. Heart racing, quick breathing. Where are the zeppole, my zeppole? I retrace the path I just created thinking I must have overlooked my precious dough balls. Then it comes to me – the outdoor refrigerator. Dammit! No zeppole. My eyes are heating up with tears, anger and loss swirl in my chest as I lament my missing pastries.

Could it be? Could they really be gone? Or did I leave them in the car?

Out into the cold morning I go, tip toeing across the freezing aggregate of the driveway. I see the white paper bag on the floorboard. Relief. My sugary babies are safe. Cold, but safe. I stand in the driveway and devour them in giant bites. Crumbs rolling down my chin, powdered sugar poofs popping on my cheeks. Bliss. I am ready for a nap.

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