Fall is supposed to be magical and idyllic—leaves falling, kids trick-or-treating—but more often than not it becomes a depressing blend of cold weather and flu shots and strangers violently coughing on you on the subway.
For this reason we need to seize every little autumnal miracle that comes our way, whether it’s a hot cup of tea, a particularly soft blanket, or the somewhat more esoteric pleasure of letting Oscar-winning actress Mary Steenburgen read acclaimed children’s book Strega Nona to you out loud.
While Mary Steenburgen reading a children’s book out loud for a Storyline Online video released by the SAG/AFTRA Foundation would be charming in any season, listening to her dramatically intone, “In a town in Calabria, a long time ago...” over the piping lilt of organ music has a distinct fall feeling to it. It’s like she’s reading to you while you huddle around a fire, sipping mulled wine in between bites of freshly baked focaccia.
Steenburgen relating Strega Nona’s adventures in pasta wrangling is so soothing it’s practically ASMR, and her Big Anthony impression is on point. You might not think you need to hear Mary Steenburgen play the accordion while singing, “Bubble, bubble, pasta pot / Boil me some pasta, nice and hot,” but, objectively speaking, you do. The video is from 2016, proving once and for all that Strega Nona is a starlet with staying power (she was created in 1975, after all).
While Steenburgen’s reading lends Strega Nona some shine, the pasta witch’s P.R. is pretty good all on its own. What writer Gabriella Paiella has referred to as the “Strega Nona extended universe” is thriving, with Strega Nona–related memes taking over Twitter:
It’s unclear what, exactly, is so compelling about Strega Nona’s story—is it her wisdom? Her compassion? Her infinite supply of pasta? A mixture of all three?—but the only way this video could possibly be better is if Ted Danson, Steenburgen’s husband, showed up to read the sequel, Strega Nona’s Harvest. Hey, we can dream.
Originally Appeared on Vogue