Everyone at the restaurant could smell it: the rich, musty perfume of Tuber magnatum, the incomparable Italian white truffle. The scent trailed behind our waiter, who held aloft a bowl of tagliolini al tartufo as he shimmied between close-set tables and then finally plunked it down in front of my mother. "Grazie," she said politely in her Tennessee drawl. "I've enjoyed this dish since before she was born." The "she" was me. And the restaurant was Cammillo, a favorite haunt of my parents when they lived in Florence in the late Fifties, first as newlyweds, then as new parents. According to my folks, Cammillo hasn't changed a bit over the past 40 years. It's still a dark room that smells of rosemary, its honey-toned walls decorated with local artwork, including a watercolor done by my father. Since 1950, Cammillo has served quintessential Florentine cuisine: pasta with splendid regional wild mushrooms; ribollita, a thick soup of beans, bread and the dark-green cabbage called cavolo nero; and tender roast pork. Cammillo himself has passed on, but his son, a wolfish fellow in tight orange jeans, keeps the place going. My mother kissed him when we arrived and asked whether he remembered her.
"Near the end of my pregnancy, your father and I were having dinner here," she told me, "and I began to feel dizzy. Cammillo and his son pushed together two tables for me to lie down on."
My dad smiled. "Do you remember what you ate?" he asked her. "Because I do: tagliolini al tartufo."