Dangerous Liaisons in the Kitchen, Alma Fenice's menu

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6 courses, 6 recipes developed through 6 short stories. (From: “CHECKMATE”, First Course) "Your turn." Caterina reaches out and moves the knight. I smile. It’s a mistake. The rook is left unprotected. I move the bishop through the row of pawns and remove it from the battlefield. She shakes her head, then takes off her blouse and throws it onto the sofa. The match continues. Caterina makes another mistake. A pawn, a knight, a bishop: off come her shoes, her socks, and her skirt. "You're not concentrating, what's wrong?" "Nothing." "I don’t believe you. What's wrong with you?" Without replying, she moves a pawn, a poor insignificant little character with a shiny head, and it's the end for my Queen. I remove my shirt and vest, and am now bare-chested. We continue the game, other pieces are captured, and I keep on undressing. And she does the same, until we’re both naked and facing each other, the few surviving pieces still on the board. Caterina stands up and, without saying a word, goes to the kitchen. The sauce smells strong. She gives it a stir, and it seems as if the pan has her undivided attention. She is silent, mesmerized by the concentric circles she's creating with the spoon. I run my fingers between her shoulder blades; she feels a tingle but nothing more. She doesn't speak or look at me, intent on the dinner, or maybe focusing on the thick black cuttlefish sauce is her way of putting a wall between us.

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