Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Introduction

As a young child growing up on the East Coast of the United States, I was taught two very conflicting thoughts. The “American” women of TV and Hollywood, for the most part in their size 1 dresses, taught me that beauty was in thinness, in designer fashion and dyed hair. But at home things were different.
My Italian family, on every occasion, gathered around the dinner table for hours, enjoying fine food, drink, and conversation.

Italian men liked a little weight on their women, I was told. Over and over in my head I can still hear my elders telling me to “Mangia, figlie, ciotte, ciotte,” which I was always told translates into “Eat, child, get fat, get fat.” And as they said what sounded to me like “jaute, jaute…” (there is no "j" in Italian), they slapped the side of one of their thighs, proudly displaying the little jiggle that comes from enjoying a good Italian meal ... the little jiggle that proves that they made it safely through the Depression and kept their souls intact along the way.
Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, olives and plum tomatoes, salami and mortadella and homemade sopresatta, pasta, lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, and a really good, day-long-simmered sauce. Ah, the comfort food of my childhood years.
They all cooked, my family. Even the men. My grandfather, Nick, was a butcher, and though he died before I was born, his craft was passed on and showed in the meals of his wife (my dear Grandma Lucy), their son (my Uncle Joe), and the girls (my mother and my aunts, Ann and Rose).
On my father’s side, we still have the best spaghetti dinner ever when we visit Aunt Barbara. The secrets of the sauce, the freshness of good homemade sausage, the crustiness of the breads. Who would want to be a size 1 with all this to eat?

And so I begin this cook-blog ... an effort ― purely selfish ― for me to compile my family’s recipes so that they are not lost for our great-grandchildren when we are, as my father used to say, “all bowling in Heaven.” Most of the recipes come from two kitchens: my mother’s, of course, and that of her sister, my godmother, my Aunt Ann.
You know Aunt Ann ― she’s the one who cooks furiously and always has something ready to go in the freezer for when 30 people just happen to drop by on a Sunday afternoon. You can find a seven-course meal in her freezer, and you’ll enjoy every bite of it!
These two kitchens hold many priceless memories. Let us begin...

Author’s Note: One great thing about having your own blog? You can make up the rules and change them as often as you want. That one recipe per post I promised? Next time.

Maria Boyer on Foodista


Tess Wittler::The Clutch Life said...

Growing up in a "meat and potatoes" family was about the same. I wasn't permitted to be excused until I had a clean plate; claiming you were full wasn't enough. A house full of starchy foods and sweets made me a very overweight kid. But by my teen years my parents let ME control the portions so I wasn't forced to take heaping mounds of potatoes and pasta so I could actually shed the extra 40 pounds I was carrying around. Great post, Maria!

Beth said...

I love the picture, Maria, was that of your own family?

Maria M. Boyer said...

This is a pic from my mom's stash. These are friends from when she and my dad were first married and lived in Buffalo, NY. Though the people in the pic aren't any of the people mentioned in my blog, the spread of food and drink on the table could easily be from any one of those meals I knew when I was growing up. I must raid the picture stash again soon ... then get permission from family to use the images.

Wendy said...

Maria, What a great post! I love how you are going to record your memories and recipes! What an awesome idea! Yeah!!