Saturday, June 18, 2016


Back in the day of Nona and her trusty companion, even with the orders and bickering; Noni: there were many secrets that needed to be revealed to the younger generations coming up and about to make their mark on the family culinary history and traditions.

Putting a flame under a pot was not what it was all about, there was certain prep that needed to be done.

“Nona, how do you make…”

“Come, I show you.”


We all know how linguini with white or red clam sauce should taste, grandma made it, it was delicious! We knew how a good meatball should taste, grandma rolled enough or maybe more than a ball bearing factory in a busy month! Those mushrooms, where did they come from and who picked them? The wine: fabulous and so earthy! Grandpa’s pride and they should have labeled it that.

Picking mushrooms was an art, but then again, everything my grandparents did was art, from waving their hands to talk to picking mushrooms you needed to know what you were doing. She showed us how to find the non-poisonous variety, how to clean and shuck a clam, how that delicious broth came from those mussels and clams, and how not to overcook scampi.

Pasta was a staple, not from the box, but by hand and it needed (kneaded) to go through the steps, and as she went through each step she instructed: “Likea deese.”

Jarring or picking eggplants, peppers, and a combination of things such as olives, peppers, and eggplant, maybe a little zucchini and capers made you save money and enjoy your family favorites, because if you dared purchase them in a store, they would be hard to find and expensive, and probably the main complaint would be they were too salty: “not likea mine”.

Shopping was like hunting if you tagged along with grandma. In a butcher shop she gave her order and then watched them carefully, picking through the vegetable stand, she as much selected the best as she also aggravated the owner of the stand. Then there was the bakery, filled with wonderful flavors and smells, and she made sure they gave her the usual; Stracciatella, Sbrisolona, Torta Caprese, not to mention: Cannoli, Pasticiotto, San Giuseppe, Sfingi, and Bomboloni.

Making the wine and then the vinegar were where grandpa reigned. This was a religious event, filled with the icons and rituals including the flies that came with the process.

If there was one thing I will always remember, and miss is the steak grandma made on her open burner on a gas stove in her basement! No one to this day can duplicate that, it was soooo delicious and mouthwatering as she cooked it in a wired holder, along with Italian bread, broccoli rabe and provolone and some pepperoni.

I’m sure you all came remember something that was made better than anyone else could do, too.

Technique, technique, technique!






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