Thursday, November 22, 2007


Growing up Italian American in New York is an experience. Well, I shall clarify, I grew up in "Upstate New York" which to the city dwellers is farm country. In reality it's not farm country and it's not an urban mass-transit culture either. It's smack dab right in the middle of those two extremes, a typical surburban township, with a heavy dose of ethnic pride.

On occasion, I long for that dose of ethnic pride. A Coloradan experience is much more watered down. I could go as far to say it's a bit more WASPy. If I really went to great lengths I am sure I could find an Italian Market, but I can almost guarantee it would pale in comparison to the one that was blocks from my parent's house. There is no possibly way to recreate the sensory euphoria that comes over me when I enter Roma Food Imports. When I was a little girl, I would linger in front of the glass cases, staring at the 20 or so varities of decorated Italian Cookies. I would snicker at the white buckets of sundried fish and curl my nose, when I would take a daring closer whiff. All the while, my mom would catch up with our family friends that have run the business for decades, while our deli meats were sliced to our liking. Only a week had gone by since our last visit, but we relished in conversation like long passages of time had passed.

On Sunday mornings, on our way home from the local Roman Catholic Church, we would always stop at Bella Napoli. As you can infer, it's the local Italian Bakery. Hard rolls, soft and warm, would be placed in a paper bag, buttered when we got home, and my father would dip his in coffee. Their pastry cases are chock-full of sweet fond memories. Cookies, bread, eclairs, cannoli, cookies, doughnuts, all decorated in their own special way. It was a beautiful moment the first time I took Sj there, I felt like a child myself. Maybe that's what makes our trip back to NY special. If we had those experiences in Colorado, it would be just another everyday thing, but it really isn't. It's ethnic pride.

Of course my reminiscing is about food, but my childhood was defined by relationships as well. The vast majority of my girlfriends in school had last names that ended in vowels and yes indeed they shared that Italian American existence. And now I fast forward to that one girlfriend that has stuck around for quite sometime.The two of us, bonded over a combination lock in 7th grade (she tells the story much better than I do). We both know what it's like to have Italian fathers & Italian mothers, a reality like no other. She knows the places I am all too fond of. We live only miles apart today, but 1800 miles from the memories of our past.

And today, I will raise my glass in honor of her, in honor of a shared history, and a warm feeling of Grazie in my heart!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family around this lovely globe.

Here's a true family tradition, the unspoken kind. Bell's Poultry Seasoning, store brand won't do. Thanksgiving just isn't the same with out it, trust me!


  1. you are making me cry! how thankful i am to you as well. the descriptions of those places brought back memories i did not even know were there. Grazie to you many times over! Love,KS

  2. I loved your childhood story. I just LOVE Italian cookies. We have a pizzelle maker and plan on making those for Christmas this year. Do you have an Italian cookie recipe you'd be willing to share?


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