Tuesday, July 05, 2016


“If you want peace in the world, take the warring parties and lock them in a room with an Italian mamma and her wooden spoon.”
-Joe Del Broccolo

Grandma and Mom were both great cooks. Grandma had a restaurant she owned and cooked in during the depression. Mom learned from her mother-in-law and refined the recipes to her liking. I could care which master fed me, as long as one or the other did! Mom and Dad ran a kitchen for a hotel during the WWII, where off-Broadway actors went in summer stock at the Gateway theater in Bellport, NY. Actors such as Robert Alda would come expressly for Mom’s food.

Some of the recipes that we grew up with were depression dishes, made from pennies and spices, today you would pay big time for those dishes, and they will make you yearn for the old days.

For cents you could purchase a loaf of crusty Italian bread, a potato or pepper, you had a grand lunch, as it dripped through the brown paper bag. Embarrassing as it might be, when you whipped out that beauty, everyone paused and drooled.

When we were young and poor Mom would mix bread crumbs with a scrambled egg or two, add Parmesan cheese and parsley and salt and pepper and fry up cutlet like shapes, which went on slices of bread, meatless for Fridays and easy on the family budget. Peppers and eggs, potatoes and eggs, pig’s knuckles and pigskin made with cabbage or escarole.

The mainstay was, of course, macaroni: no one called it pasta until it became popular in the 60’s and 70’s. Then some Americano thinking he was giving sophistication to the dish called it ‘Pasta’. Of course, like everything else in life there were contradictions:

When Mom heard the word pasta being used too often for her liking, she went off on a tantrum about its use.

“Pasta! What pasta, you eat macaroni.” Then she would mimic the ‘AmerIcanos’ “PASTA, WE’RE HAVING PASTA!”

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”
“What about that delicious dish you make with macaroni and white beans?”
“OOOOOH! Pasta fagiola.”


“Ma, I thought you said you didn’t like the word ‘pasta?"
“Don’t get so smart you, you’re not too big to get it over the head with a wooden spoon.” I was her way of saying: “Open your stupid mouth one more time and I’ll show tough love!”


Post a Comment

<< Home