Saturday, October 21, 2017

Message from Grandma


It started while Himself and I were watching the Father Brown Mysteries. The broad-brimmed hat with rounded crown reminded me of the  maccaroni my grandma (Ma's mother) made. The pasta was shaped like the hat. We called them cappellini (we pronounced this coop-pel-leen-ie). How I miss those delicious, melt in your mouth little hats, smothered in gravy (tomato sauce).

And even though when I was little, I watched Grandma make the maccaroni. I couldn't remember what she did. Ma didn't make this recipe either. I'm not sure she had mastered the technique. Ma told me Grandma (we never called her Nonna. It was understood we had to speak American) would take a bit of the dough, spread it with the tip of  a knife, and flip it over her thumb to shape the hat. Wouldn't have mattered as Grandma's recipes were not written down.

And then there was the dream. I was with a bunch of relatives long gone from this life. Even Ma's youngest brother, my uncle, who I didn't particularly care for. In the morning, I told Himself of being with the dead relatives. There were no other specifics of the dream I remembered or even who else was there.

In the evening, Himself said , I know why you had the dream about your dead relatives.

Why?

Today, is National Pasta Day.

Hmmm. I think it was all because of Father Brown's hat.

Later that night while playing on Facebook, a live video, Cooking with Nonna crossed my feed. Nonna was making home-made pasta. So I watched the video. Nonna's granddaughter, Rossella, was running the camera and color commentary. She said Nonna was making orecchietti (little ears). Having nothing better to do, I watched.



Nonna rolled out the dough into a rope. She took a knife, cut a bit off. With her fore-finger on the knife tip, she pulled the bit of dough towards her and the flipped the dough over her thumb. And I almost cried. She was making cappellini!!

Rossella picked up the pasta and turned it towards the camera to show the shape. She said orecchietti were called little ears or little hats!

Rosella collaborated with her grandmother and wrote a cookbook, Cooking with Nonna. I had errands to run at the mall (and I bought some Play-Doh to practice) so for giggles stopped into Barnes and Noble to see if they had the book in stock. They did! I raced drove home safely, brewed a cup of tea, and sat down with the book. Nonna is from Ariana, the same area as my grandma. A lot of the recipes were familiar, and I started to cry. A part of my heritage, I thought was lost forever has been found and returned to me.



I've been practicing with the Play-Doh to get the hang of the technique. Semolina flour is on the shopping list.

The veil is thinning at this time of the year. I'm glad I was paying attention so Grandma wouldn't throw her shoe at me.

Grazie, Grandma.

18 comments:

  1. Great post, CJ I really enjoyed it! My grandmother (we called her nana) always cooked homemade food for us. AND, she never wrote down the recipes either because she did not need to. She would just say, "as dash of this" or "a little of that." LOL

    She made THE BEST chicken corn rival soup ever (rivals are dough balls).

    Take care!

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    1. That was Grandma, too. A handful of this, a little more water, a little more flour. You just never knew how much a handful or little more was in English measure. :-D

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  2. What a wonderful story, it seems like your Grandma got through to you with the recipe this way. They look good out of play-doh, and I am sure the real ones will be filled wit good memories which will make hem extra precious and delicious - enjoy! Have a great weekend, hugs, Valerie
    PS Thanks for the link to the ducklings, they are wonderful!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the linke to the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in Boston. One of my favorite places to visit.

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  3. Not only did you get a cookbook but a 'how to' video!! I'd say your relatives got through loud and clear! :D

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    1. :-D Grandma's way of making sure I'd make the cappelinis the right way!

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  4. I LOVE this post. I am British, so I called my grandmother Grams. She never let me in her kitchen, so I never learned to cook until I was out on my own. Unfortunately, I would cook something and people would ask for the recipe. I never made anything the same way twice, so I have never written anything down, either. Not that I would have anyone to pass it on to, since I can't see Bleubeard or Squiggles ever cooking anything!

    But back to your pasta. The play dough hats look quite good, and I suspect when you get the products you need to make them, you will be ready. Bless that Nonna and good for B & N for having the book in stock. Pasta day or not, it appears the stars have aligned for you to make this dish.

    BTW, my friend Scott, who does NOT care for mysteries, LOVES Father Brown. He can't wait for the next season to start.

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    1. Though I was in the kitchen, I could only watch. Grandma and especially Ma didn't like anyone in the kitchen.

      Bless the granddaughter Rossella. She has a cooking show, Cooking With Nonna. Thought of preserving the recipes and also that there would be others that would want to remember the recipes by nonna was gone.

      We're looking forward to the next season, too

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  5. Oh my gosh, CJ. That's wonderful about the cook book. Your grandma sounded like she was an artist with pasta. I'm glad you got to visit with your relatives in your dreams.
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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    1. We used to tease Grandma that she could put the Prince Macaroni Co. out of business.

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  6. Hello!
    Wow, your hats look great,
    I can't wait to hear about how good the actual pasta turned out:)

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    1. They look good for Play-Doh. Still need some work

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  7. Awesome CJ, and great idea to practice the technique with the Play-Doh. I will be interested in hearing how your pasta making goes. Lucky to find the cookbook! I love Father Brown too!

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    1. I'm so happy to have found the cookbook.

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  8. I love this story. I think you have a new project for winter, not only making cappellini (let's see if I can spell that)but some other wonderful foods of your family heritage and childhood. I think those family members were with you and telling you to do it. Show us photos once you actually get cooking. I think you shall make perfect pasta by then. :) Hugs-Erika

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  9. I love this post! I love this story!! My mouth is watering! LOL! Funny, we both talked about pasta, but yours is the good stuff! LOL! Keep practising! Big Hugs!

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    1. Grandma's pasta was the good stuff :-D

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