Meals to Die by, no. 12

This week for Meals to Die by the murderous series continues. In The Godfather: part II we move into excess and move away from our roots — Vito Andolini, the young boy, moves from Corleone to New York, Michael moves the family to Lake Tahoe, even the orange comes from Miami. We  learn about the offer no one can refuse.

In Austin when just a young child (yup starting with a flashback just like the movie) two pear trees grew in our front yard. One was scrawny and short and never produced more than a single pear. The other threw out an overabundance of pears. Every summer the branches hung low over the driveway, barring our cars. Pears were worked into meal after meal. And when creativity’s max was reached they were sliced, containerized and put into the freezer to become pear mush (or an optimists all natural, no sugar added pear sorbet).

This tree simply didn’t know how to stop, it couldn’t go straight. Year after year this tree yielded plenty until we could no longer eat a single one and they were left to rot on the ground.

Neighbors would knock on the door and ask if maybe they could have just a couple. “No,” we would say, “take as many as you want. Let me get you a bag. Oh you brought one? Let me get you a bigger bag.”

Was it stealing nutrients, preventing the small tree from growing? Was it ambitious or greedy? Was it a dominant figure taking charge? The right or wrong of this overabundance is unclear.

Eventually, both trees were cut down. The roots of the smaller were easily pulled up. The bigger one was entrenched too deep. Branches continued to grow out of this three foot stump. It took a few more years and a backhoe, but finally the remains of that ambitious pear tree were uprooted. Michael never faced his own backhoe, though many attempted to turn the family into a stump.

Part II doesn’t seem bloodier than Part I, but the murders are much more cold-blooded. Murder — close to home — becomes possible as distance tears the Corleone family apart.

It wasn’t so in the early days of the Corleone family. When Vito brings home a single pear to his wife after being fired from his job at the grocers due to the dictatorial Don Fannuci I thought this must be far from home. I was mistaken. Forgive me. Pears are also Italian. Vito was memorializing home. It is, however, his first taste of excess and ambition.

That beautiful, juicy taste is the beginning.


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