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

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I think I may have just been insulted

Mom, did they have tryouts when you played volleyball in college? I mean, everyone made the team, right?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Where the Boys Are

The two older boys are in Lousisiana for a Catholic Youth Conference sponsored by Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

"As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." - Colossians 2: 6 - 7

Thursday, June 16, 2011

7 quick takes: The Question & Answer Version

1. Who is more foolish?

My mom calls me today and asks for the phone number of my best friend, Jill ... she wants to call and thank her for the postcard she sent from Italy. I give her the number and hang up. Two seconds later the phone rings:


Jill, this is Massimilla, Maria's mother. I wanted to thank you ...

Uhm, Mom, it's me. You called the wrong number.

But this is the number you gave me!!!

She read me back the number and, sure enough, I had given her my number ... and despite the fact that she calls me several times a day, she didn't recognize it as mine.

2. What to do when it's so hot and hasn't rained for three weeks?

Play croquet in the sprinklers ...

3. Do I feed my boys?

Even though the above photo may indicate otherwise, yes I do. I should be so blessed to have their metabolism ...

4. Can you read this?

If ever you wanted to sound Italian ... here's your chance. Read the following with an Italian accent (the opening line is Once upon a time there were three bears and the last word is City Hall).

Di Tri Berrese

Uans appona taim uas tri berrese; mamma berre, pappa berre, e beibi berre. Live inna contri nire foresta. Naise aus, no mugheggia. Uanna dei pappa, mamma, e beibi go bice, orie e furghetta locche di dorra.

Bai enne bai commese Goldilocchese. Sci garra nattingha tu du batte meiche troble. Sci puscia olle fudde daon di maute; no live cromme. Den sci gos appesterrese enne slipse in olle beddse. Bai enne bai commese omme di tri berrese, olle sannebronne enne send inne scius. Dei garra no fudde; dei garra no beddse. En uara dei goine du tu Goldilocchese? Tro erre aute inne strit? Colle pulissemenn?

Deis uas Italien berrese, enne dei slippe onne florre. Goldilocchese stei derre tri deise: dei esch erre tu meiche di beddse, sci runne omme craine tu erre mamma. Uatssiuse? Uara iu goine du? Go compleine sittiole?

5. What happened to my beautiful pansies?

Gone, gone, gone. As in, dead. They used to look like this:

6. Have my mornings been filled with the productive writing time that I had envisioned at the start of summer?


7. What are your irrational fears?

-Getting stuck on a bridge in traffic.
-Being chased ... no tag for me.

For more fun and fearless quick takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's All in the Sauce

Part I: The Disclaimer

When I was recently asked to share an authentic Italian recipe for tomato sauce, I was a little reluctant to do so for a variety of reasons, the most important one being this: Italy is divided into six geographical areas -- Northwest, Northeast, Central, Southern, Sicily, and Sardinia -- and these areas encompass 20 different regions. In each of these regions are cities, villages, and towns with countless Nonne who have THE family recipe for salsa di pomodoro (tomato sauce).

You see, now, the problem. Even within my own family every one makes tomato sauce a little differently.

Then there is the question of whether one should use fresh tomatoes from the vine or canned tomatoes, a question which always puts me on the defensive because to answer anything other than "fresh tomatoes" means taking the chance of not being thought of as a real Italian.

So, by all means, if you have a huge tomato garden use fresh tomatoes because, truthfully, it really does make a difference in consistency, taste, texture, and even the color of the sauce.

On the other hand, if your gardening consists of a few tomato plants grown in terra cotta containers on your deck (like me), then you probably don't have enough tomatoes to make a sauce. In this case, canned tomatoes work just fine.

Again, you see how things can get complicated?

So, before I go further, know that the secret behind a true, authentic Italian salsa di pomodoro is this: no one is an authority . . .and everyone is an authority.

It just depends to whom you are talking.

Part II: The Recipe for Salsa di Pomodoro

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.
-Federico Fellini

28 oz. can peeled, crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
handful of fresh basil leaves

In a saucepan, heat the garlic in olive oil (about 2 minutes). Add the tomatoes and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Spoon sauce over cooked pasta. Top with freshly grated parmiggiano-reggiano.

Buon appetito!

III. In Conclusion

Tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper ... these are all the ingredients you need for a basic tomato sauce. This sauce is light and complements almost any style pasta such as spaghetti, angel hair, or penne. It is also a sauce you can build on; for example, sometimes we add a finely grated carrot or onion for a different texture, a splash of wine for a more intense flavor, or, for a heartier dish, some ground meat. The beauty of la salsa di pomodoro is that it can stand alone, or it can be used as a foundation for more complicated recipes.

Simple, and yet not so simple.

But a wonderful reflection of the paradox that is la dolce vita.

My name is Maria, and while I like to enjoy life one cappuccino at a time, I have also been known to measure life's pleasures in terms of bowls of pasta.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All I Need Now is a Brick Oven

Pizza ... ready for the oven.

Pizza alla Margherita for Joe and me;
Pizza con Prosciutto for Joe and the older boys;
regular pepperoni (not pictured) for Timothy.

I aim to please.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Knight in Shining Armor

"Mom, are you a princess?" asks Timothy as we are driving to the beach.

Well, actually I am a queen and Daddy is the king," I reply.

A queen?!" he is indignant. "That's too old. Nope, you're a princess."

When his two older brothers start laughing, Timothy gets mad and reaches back to try and hit them.

I quickly restore peace, but secretly I am smiling.

I think he was defending my honor.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Things We Learn About Our Parents:

Nicknames for each other when they were first married:
Cipollina - Carciofina

(translation: little onion - little artichoke)

uhm ... don't ask.