An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Monday, November 30, 2009

American? Italian? It's All About Giving Thanks.


People often ask if our Thanksgiving meal is modified to reflect our Italian background, and it is a question that doesn't have a short answer.

My mother came to this country as a young bride. She was only 20 years old and determined to embrace this new life. She became fluent in English, learned to drive, earned her American citizenship.

It's not to say that she wasn't Italian anymore; on the contrary, she made sure that we grew up with a strong sense of our Italian heritage: we traveled often to Italy, grew up speaking the language, and were very close to our relatives.

But there were some things quintessentially American that my mother embraced ... and the traditional Thanksgiving meal was one of them.

She had a lot to learn, however. In one of her earliest letters to her mother, she wrote about this strange, white stuff that came in a blue can (Crisco shortening).

She had never eaten turkey, much less cooked one.

She had never heard of sweet potatoes. Why, in America, even the potatoes are sweet!

And cranberry sauce? All that jiggling red stuff didn't look like food at all.

It took years of trial and effort, but today she has perfected the art of the Thanksgiving meal. The turkey is always moist, the sweet potato casserole has just the right amount of brown sugar and marshmallows, and we always fight over any leftover dressing. There are two ceramic pilgrims decorating the dinner table and we enjoy a family game of football or baseball in the afternoon.

Of course, there are small concessions to our Italian background: we sip espressos with our pumpkin pie and have a small glass of limoncello as an after dinner digestivo.

But it is an American meal, celebrating an American holiday, and with a hearty Buon Appetito! we raise our glasses of vino rosso ... thankful for it all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

St. Giuseppe Moscati:

Just watched St. Giuseppe Moscati: Doctor of the Poor on EWTN. It was a wonderful movie about St. Moscati's work among the poor and homeless of Naples, Italy in the early 1900s. He is the first modern medical doctor to be canonized.

The fact that the movie was filmed in Italian (with English subtitles) just added to its wonderfulness.

~Remember that you must treat not only bodies, but also souls, with counsel that appeals to their minds and hearts rather than with cold prescriptions to be sent in to the pharmacist. ~Saint Moscati



Monday, November 16, 2009

Standing Firm

The weekend is over, the dust has settled, and here is what is left:



And this is what I know:
-that this chocolate chip/peanut butter cup cookie is delicious;
-that no one is here to witness me consuming it;
-that I am bigger (literally and figuratively) than that cookie;
-that it has no control over me. Whatsoever.

And that's what Makes My Monday: Resisting Temptation!

Now go visit Cheryl who has a cookie story involving two very cute chefs.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

End of a Season

Game held on a rain-soaked field.
Lost in the semifinals.
Third place in an 11-team league.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Dad, My Hero (in honor of Veterans Day)



Our sons love to hear stories of their Nonno when he was in the Military -- stories like his grueling training as one of the oldest guys in OCS (Officer Candidate School); how he met my Mom while stationed in Verona and courted her; the time he forcibly removed a fellow (drunken) officer who was being offensive to a woman at a dinner party; or the stories (some of them truly frightening) of when he served at the Demilitarized Zone in Pamunjon, Korea when tensions between the north and south were at an all time high.


Then there was the unbelievable coincidence of being interviewed and photographed by an Italian journalist sent to do a story on the tensions in Korea, with the feature article subsequently published in Italy (with photos of him and extensive quotes) to the incredible joy and pride of our Italian relatives (my Nonna carried the magazine with her and showed it to everyone).


And our boys are very impressed that he can still tap out messages in Morse Code.

We love you, Dad.
We love you, Nonno.
We're all very proud of you.












Monday, November 9, 2009

Wonder of Wonders

Seen tonight:
a thirty second primetime commercial extolling the virtues . . .
of Nutella.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Surviving Yesterday

Yesterday I had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

Why?

One word: teenager.

There. I don't have to write anything more because I am sure all of you will instantly and totally understand. But I will write, because I need to vent. And I want to be petted, and flattered, and reminded what a great Mom I am (and the fact that I am soliciting these compliments makes no difference whatsoever).

When I was pregnant I had nine months . . . NINE MONTHS . . . to prepare. I studied What to Expect When You're Expecting; then there was What to Expect: The First Year, and What to Expect: The Toddler Years. I even had Il Bambino, an Italian version of Dr. Spock's book on child-rearing.

So, I was armed and ready to combat first colds, diarrhea, play dates, Barney, and projectile vomit.

It was a foundation that served me well even as they grew and started Kindergarten, primary school, and eventually moving on to middle school.

But then, out of no where, I was blindsided.

Ambushed.

I ask you, where along the way did we teach our son to be sullen, grumpy, incommunicative, rude and disrespectful? Because I can assure you that these fine qualities were not taught by us.

And yet, one fine morning our son woke up and there they were.

I guess the most perplexing and frustrating thing is that I don't know what in the heck I am doing. Where was What to Expect: The Teen Years because, I tell you, it would have been nice to have been forewarned.

Instead, I have been winging it.

This morning, after yesterday's terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, I cast out my net seeking inspiration and wisdom. It came in the form of John 20:21, Peace be with you. The commentary explained that peace isn't the absence of conflict; rather, the peace that Christ offers can be found in the reality that exists when heaven and earth "connect".

Hmmmm. How about the reality that exists when parents and teens collide...that would be more accurate.

Okay, peace. I know it's there, just as I know my son is there.

Somewhere.

Like when he apologized this morning.

It took a little work, but I did find that peace, and with it came this bit of wisdom: a working teen doesn't have time to be sullen. Brilliant! So this afternoon our son raked the backyard . . . which is rather large . . . and has lots and lots of trees . . . that have shed lots and lots of leaves.

It took him a while and, believe it or not, he did it rather cheerfully . . . for a teen.

Peace. I'll take it any way I can.