Thursday, July 16, 2009

Italian Heritage

When I was three years old, our family moved in with Nana and Grandpa. Nana was ill and needed my mother to help her. At the time, I was the youngest of three children. I remember Grandpa. He was 100% Italian. He was a wonderful family man and he looked like he could play the part in any godfather movie. The house we lived in was built mostly by him. We lived right down the street from the beach. Over the years, while raising his own children, he would gather scrap driftwood from the sandy beach, and use it to add on to the house. He was creative and hardworking.

Nana was in a wheelchair. She would sit at the kitchen table and teach us how to make home-made tortellini. She had an amazing recipe. First, we would make the pasta dough. Then someone would fry up the meat and add the seasonings. This was called "ping." It was put aside. Once we had the pasta rolled out and cut into pieces, we would add a bit of ping and then pinch the edges of the dough so it would close up and make a rounded shape with a triangle end. When this was ready, we would lay each piece on a floured cloth so it would dry out. Later, this was either cooked up fresh or frozen for later. There were many of us at the table working together, with our loud family chatter!! That tortellini, that we made with Nana, was the most delicious food I have ever tasted.

Grandpa loved to spoil us. He thought nothing of giving us ice cream before dinner. But Nana would get so upset. She would yell from her bed, saying that we had to wait until after we ate! She was a strong presence in our lives and had great control, even from the couch, bed or chair.

Grandpa had this wonderful old car. It had plastic on the seats. The plastic protected the fabric underneath. I was very young and do not remember what kind of car it was, but it was something you would see in a parade - an antique.

We enjoyed living with our grandparents. But it didn't last long. A few years later, grandpa died of cancer... then shortly after, Nana died in the hospital. I wish I could have known them longer, but we can remember them by talking about them. They were wonderful people. My Mother continued to teach us their ways. She made sure we had good food to eat and that we were a strong, loving family. We had a lot of family gatherings.

Now, my parents live with us in my house. We are continuing the legacy of my grandparents. We are a large family with three generations living together. We need each other and are grateful. We still make tortellini, but only about once every other year. I recently asked Mother for Grandma's recipe. She couldn't find it. There is only one living relative who currently has it. . . My Aunt, who is in her 80's. We need to keep that recipe in the family. It is more than food, it is a memory. It is our heritage.

Mrs. White


Lori said...

Loved this post, Mrs. White! This is something you don't see or hear of very often anymore...families taking care of and love each other!! God bless you for it!

Sandra said...

It's good to hear of someone not only taking care of their family, but loving to do so. That is becoming less and less these days. May God bless you!!

Deanna said...

The plastic on the car seats made me grin.
Sure hope you get the recipe and soon.

Some of my favorite memories are of family food ate at a relatives.
Sooooo good.

God bless you and enjoyed this read.

swedishcowboy said...

I am so enjoying your blog! Found you through Frugal Dad. I too, grew up with a grandparent in the house, my own Nana from Sweden. She barely spoke English and we had so much traditional Swedish stuff growing up that I didn't realize everybody didn't live that way until I went away to college! I ended up celebrating our heritage which she left as her legacy by opening a Scandinavian food and gift shop for a few years. Oh the stories people would tell me about their Scandinavian grandparents when they came into the store! Everyone had a treasured memory. It was wonderful to hear.

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