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Monday, February 08, 2016

I’M IN A DEPRESSION AND LOVING IT!


Growing up in the 1950’s with an Italian grandmother who taught my Italian/American mother how to cook, was the greatest thing to happen to me before I had my own family.

If your parents grew up in the depression of the 1930’s, then you know what it meant to be innovative and darn right clever with not much. The same was true with food. Many dishes I grew up with did not necessarily come straight from Italy but were the outcome of very little money and few ingredients.

Today, as I write this, it is dreary with snow falling, icy winds and biting cold. This can only mean one thing: PASTA E’ FAGIOL!! Or for those f you less talented in Alto Italia: pasta fazool/fazoola.

Eh, either way I’m gonna cry, I so happy!

“When the stars make you drool just like Pasta Fazool, that’s amore’!”

When I thought of making the dish today, the thought alone warmed me up and set me to thinking of other dishes mom and grandma made. Comfort foods they were and stay with me in my old age.

Pasta e’ Fazool, Egg drop soup, potatoes and eggs, peppers and eggs, a Manesta, beans and macaroni, steak pizziola, escarole and beans, and on and on they go, filled with memories as warm as the soup.

But foolish me, as a young child, I would complain to my mother sometimes if she made something I didn’t think I’d care for, and mom had two things on every menu for such occasions: Take It, or Leave It. I always opted for the first item!

Both Grandma and my mom cooked out of pocket kind of. By that I mean neither one looked at a recipe, instead cooking was an instinct, no pre-measuring, no chopping garlic on a chopping board, just going to the stove, breaking off parsley and letting her rip, or cutting garlic at the pan or pot with a little paring knife and tossing everything in.

When I can home from school or play, I was immediately arrested by the aroma of mom starting a pot of anything, it didn’t matter, I was ready to eat!

Have you tried to order a dish of Pasta e’ Fagioli today? I ask them to wear a mask when they give me the price, then I can claim it on my taxes maybe.

Does anyone remember the little chicken meatballs with the escarole in chicken soup? How about pig feet and knuckles in a great broth?

How sad those days are gone, today I have to pay a hefty price for a simple meal, because it is Italian, and I am a nostalgic creature in love with my heritage and sometimes too lazy to cook it. But not tonight! La vita e’ bella!

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