A Man, His Car, and a Meal

by Mary Catherine Perry

Puffing on his thin cigarette, probably the fifth during dinner, Roberto Marco strikes a pose and lifts his shirt to reveal his “food baby”. Laughter erupts from the table as he continues to put on a show. He stands there with an impish grin, plotting to reveal his next joke that he will play on this group of unsuspecting students.

Roberto’s roots run deep in the small town of Orvieto. Here is where he was born, raised, and would raise his family. In his early adulthood Roberto went to university in Rome and began a life for himself planting his new roots and beginning work for a large furniture company. After nearly eighteen years in Rome, Roberto and his newlywed Mimma decided they wanted to start a family. They felt Rome was not a place to raise a children; they could not live well if were to stay. “The only activity we found joy in was going to the grocery store and what fun is that,” says Roberto. It was time to make a change and that meant a return to Orvieto, the land he loves.

Upon their return to Orvieto in 1980 Roberto bought the building that he currently lives in. Becoming a landlord was an opportunity that would allow his large personality and love of life to be carried out. He has found great satisfaction in housing students because of the positive impact he is capable of having on them. Additionally the impact these students have on him.

They keep him young and on his toes while also improving his english, he hopes to be fluent by next summer. He particularly loves housing students from Kansas State, because in his opinion “they are the most genuine kind hearted people”.

Roberto’s eyes light up with excitement and creativity as every week he displays the fresh veggies, meats, and cheeses he purchased at the market. He finds great joy in warming the stomachs of his guests over bold flavors and good conversation. “The difference between a great meal and a good meal is cooking with love, patience, a little bit of distance, and using your brain,” says Roberto over a dinner of lasagna and ratatouille.

In the driveway Roberto gently rubs sandpaper over the dark brown rust patches on his blue antique Fiat. He can be found daily with grease caked on his fingers and a tool box nearby tenderly adding new parts or adjusting the existing to keep the cars young and rumbling. His

small blue car is named “The Mickey Mouse Car” because of its size, despite the color. “In the car’s prime it was one of the nicest cars in town, people would run out of their businesses just to catch a glimpse,” Roberto says with pride, chuckling at the memory. He cares for his students like he cares for his cars. With a deep tender loving care that will not fade.