Little Women


When I turned 13, my mother gave me a signed first edition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. She asked me to read it and she promised to one day discuss with me
her favorite character.

For years, she had been piling books in my room. Greek and Nordic mythology. Arabian fables. Anthologies of Dante and The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers. Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat. Ulysses. Anything by Primo Levi. And Italo Calvino (please, gift your children with his writings). A full series of Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And even one small pocket edition of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe that scared the bejesus out of me.

While I loved reading about Laura and became fascinated by her descriptions of churning butter and tapping freshly sugared sap and an attic full of winter squash and other supplies to get her through the winter, which was something very foreign and intriguing to an Italian girl, Little Women became one of my favorites. I immediately gravitated to Jo, the rebel. She lived unchaperoned in NYC, offered inappropriate stories to publishers, cut her hair short and turned down the rich boy next door.

While Jo will forever be my girl, I later concluded that Mrs. March was the true feminist character, the constructive one, the mother who allowed her four girls to thrive and follow their dreams by building their beloved castles in the clouds. She is sort of a gentler, old-fashioned, go-ahead kind of mom. She nourished her daughters with thoughts.

Nourishing is the best part of being a woman and a mother. We feed, listen, cook, teach, work, produce, give life, care, advocate, hug and fight. Nourishing doesn’t preclude  women from being seductive, and it shouldn’t stop us from being leaders. Nourishing is a female privilege. That’s not an insult to men, who, by the way I love and appreciate. But nourish is largely the land of females. Nourishing deserves respect like women deserve equal rights.  

The four March girls have kept coming back into my life in many ways, becoming even more daring, modern and, at times inflammatory. I rooted for the ladies in Sex in the City. I cried and laughed along with Hannah and the Girls on HBO (shall we talk about Matthew Rhys’ prosthetic Penis for a sec?!) And every decade I bump into a real-life incarnation of the four ladies in the form of my formidable girlfriends who are my lifeline. We bond over our need for love, respect and nourishment and our shared knowing of the importance of being allowed to be vocal, heard and successful. And I’m extremely thankful for each and every one of these women in my life.

A short while before the 2016 election, I took a walk with an argumentative friend. It became clear she was not going to vote for Clinton. What distressed me most at the time, though, was not her political viewpoint but a statement she made while discussing her choice. “The least of my concerns,” she said sternly, “is women’s rights.” Not acceptable, lady.

Dilma Rousseff once said, “I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say, ‘Yes women can.’” We, as women, have the responsibility to propel the movement for women’s rights forward. We also need energy and power to continue the journey we have ahead of us the next four years. Our daily fights are many but we need to persevere.

My mother died six months after giving me Little Women. I was never able to discuss with her which character was her favorite, although I like to think she, like me, was fond of Jo, the rebel.  I consider myself incredibly lucky that in the short time she was with me, she fueled my passion for reading, writing and cooking; she supplied me with an insubordinate mind; and that she nurtured me and taught me to stand up for my beliefs. I want my daughter and my son to grow up with the same ideals but hopefully in a more forward-thinking, more accepting society.

So get your favorite foursome together and dial your elected officials to nourish your country back to normal. And remind everyone you know to do the same. And if you’re hungry for more than good intentions, try my mom’s honey and tangerine roasted chicken. It’s a recipe that will keep you happy while satisfying your hunger for food and equality. #RESIST 

Honey, Tangerine and Rosemary Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Honey, Tangerine and Rosemary Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4/6 people 25 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 3 1/2 -to - 4 Lb. organic whole chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 leaves fresh sage
  • 1 Medium white onion, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tangerines
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a nonstick roasting pan and line the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Prep the chicken. Season with salt and pepper the cavities and the outside. Stuff the chicken with the garlic, the rosemary, sage and the 2 onions half. Slice one of the tangerines in thin slices and place the slices at the bottom of the pan. Place the prepped chicken on the sliced tangerine in the pan.
  3. Juice the 2 remaining tangerines. In a tall jug combine the tangerine juice with the balsamic vinegar, the honey, the garlic cloves, the rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whiz with a hand held blender for a minute or two.
  4. Spoon all but 1/4 cup of liquid over all the chicken. Place chicken in oven and roast for 10 minutes. Spoon accumulated juices back over chicken, reverse pan back to front, and return to oven. Repeat a couple of times, basting every 10 minutes and switching pan position each time. If chicken browns too quickly, lower heat a bit. If juices dry up, use reserved liquid and 1 or 2 tablespoons of water.
  5. After 50 minutes of roasting, insert an instant-read thermometer into a thigh; when it reads 155 to 165 degrees, remove chicken from oven, and baste one final time. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Substitute oranges with tangerines for a sweeter version. I also like adding fresh ginger to the basting sauce.

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2 Responses to Little Women

  1. Wanda Shukay March 21, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

    You are the girl I’d love to know more of. Have always thought you beautiful and sweet. Enjoying your blog. And, your Mother must have been a wonderful person. Keep giving us such great recipes Silvia.
    Hugs, WLS

    • Silvia Baldini March 21, 2017 at 6:28 pm #

      Thank you Wanda, and thank you for leaving a comment! It makes me happy!

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