Friday, July 27, 2012

The Friday Five

Last week, Iowa had sent me a meme about what it was like growing up Italian. This week's Friday Five and then some is closer to the mark.

1. There  is  some sort of religious statue in the hallway, living room,  bedroom,  front porch and backyard. (A Mary on the half  shell).

In my parents room, there was a crucifix, a white statue of the Madonna and child ( it was pretty, very simple elegant lines), and an Infant of Prague statue under a glass dome. There were also 10 pennies, but I don't know the significance of the pennies). Ma also kept a Madonna I got when I graduated 8th grade for having perfect attendance for 8 years. It was a pretty Mary statue, in case you are wondering. The crucifix in my room opened up. It contained two white candles and a bottle of Holy Water just in case someone in the house needed Extreme Unction (Last Rites). 

Grandma had two beautiful statues on her dresser. The Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. The statues were big like the kind found at church on the altar. Have no idea where she got them and sadly don't know what happened to them after she passed away. They were beautiful works of art.
  2.  The   outdoor table is linoleum covered with small, chrome metal trim  along  the edges.

Nope. We had a wrought iron table, six chairs, and two wrought iron end tables. Anyone interested in them? Make me an offer and you pick up.
   3.  The living  room is filled with old wedding favors with bows and stale   almonds (they are too pretty to open and  eat).

This made me laugh. These are wedding favors. Yes, 5 white Jordan almonds wrapped in tulle, the color of the bride's theme. Five to symbolize wishes for the happy couple: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity.
 4   All    lampshades, stuffed chairs and stuffed couches are covered with  stiff,  clear plastic.

  5.   A    portrait of the Pope and Frank Sinatra hang in the dining  room..

Nope, not in my house. But Grandma had a picture of Pope John XXIII We used to call him her boyfriend. When she went back to Italy for a visit in the early 60s, she and whoever she traveled with got an audience with him.
 6.   God forbid  if anyone EVER attempted to eat 'Chef Boy-ar-Dee', 'Franco   American', 'Ragu',  'Prego', or anything else labeled as  Italian in a jar or can.

Ma, Grandma, and all the aunties made gravy every week.
7.    Meatballs  are made with pork, veal   and beef, mixed  together.

Ma just used ground beef. Maybe ground pork and veal were too expensive.
 8.   Turkey is  served on Thanksgiving AFTER   the manicotti, gnocchi,  lasagna, and minestrone or shcarole  soup.

True, if we were at Grandma's for Thanksgiving. We never had gnocchi. Wasn't from the region of Italy where Grandma came from.
8.  Sunday  dinner  was at 1:00  PM sharp. The meal went like  this...    The table was set with everyday dishes.  It doesn't matter if they don't    match. They're  clean; what more do you want?

In my house, Sunday dinner or holy days of obligation dinner started at 2pm.
9..  Wine,  homemade, is served   up in small water or old, cheese  glasses.

Homemade wine was served in crystal wine glasses or juice glasses from the fancy set that had yellow daisies on them.
10.   At  the  table all the utensils go on the right side of the plate  and the napkin   goes on the  left.

Nope. Fork and napkin on the left, knife and spoon on the right.
11.    A  clean   kitchen towel was put at Nonno's & Papa's  plates because they won't  use  napkins.

My mother's mother was called Grandma, not Nonno, Nonna,  Nonni. When she became a great-grandmother, she was called Nonna-non. My mother's father and my father's parents were deceased by the time I came along. Don't know what they were called.

Grandma used a napkin. A clean dishcloth, called a mopeen, was kept close by. Usually to wipe the moosh (mouth) of the little ones before they left the table.
12.    Homemade  wine, a pitcher of water   and bottles of 7-UP are on  the table.

In my house, wine was reserved for special occasions. Gingerale was the beverage of choice. Grandma had a large tumbler of wine everyday with her evening meal.
13.  First  course,  Antipasto...

For the fancy dinners, first course was soup.. Chicken soup with rice, schcarole (Escarole), and pupetini (small meatballs made with ground beef and grated Parmesan cheese) Then came the Antipasto (before the pasta)

 Change plates.
  14.  Second  course,  macaroni or ravioli. Ma made home-made ravioli. If she didn't make ravioli, we had Ziti.
    All  pasta  was called macaroni...

You remembered that from last week, right?

 We also had an eggplant Parmigiana.   Change    plates.
  15.  Third    course was usually roast beef, or chicken and potatoes  and vegetables...
   Change    plates.

    -  would  you eat the salad drenched in homemade oil &  strong, red wine vinegar    dressing..
   Change   plates.

My mother would put the salad course with the soup. My father would eat his salad after the main meal was over.
   16.  Next    course, fruit & nuts - in the shell - on paper plates because  you  ran out of the real  ones.

We used to ask Uncle Mario to crack the walnuts for us. He could crack four at a time. He had hands the size of hams and was very strong.   
 17.   Last    was coffee with anisette, some espresso for Nonno, 'American'  coffee for  the rest - with hard cookies (biscottis) to  dunk in the coffee with more  fruit and some  cheese.

Rarely was anisette poured into the coffee. One of my uncles liked Sambucca in his coffee. The grown ups just had American coffee. Cookies were usually pizzelle (waffle cookies flavored with anisette) or a cake like cookie also flavored with anisette, frosting and colored confetti.
18;.    The  kids would go out to play.
19.    The  men would go lay down.  They slept so soundly that you  could do brain  surgery on them without  anesthesia.
20.    The  women cleaned the kitchen.
 21.   We  got screamed at by Mama or Nonna, and half of the sentences  were English, the other half in  Italian.


22.  Italian  mothers never threw a baseball in their life, but could nail you  in the head or back with their shoe thrown from the kitchen  while you were in  the living  room.

Not Ma, but Grandma. :-D

That's what it was like. Sound familiar?


  1. I dated a guy named Tony in my younger days. I was totally surprised by the first Sunday dinner I was invited to. And blown away by their Christmas dinner! Then I was invited to Christmas (or maybe it was New Years’) dinner at a friend’s house. Her family made my boyfriends’ look like poverty row! There was a sheep’s head on the table! Ummmm……it had its eyes!
    But I haven't had a good meatball since then! LOL

  2. Himself had a similar reaction the first dinner after we were engaged and Ma decided to put on the dog. He was relieved to know we didn't eat like that all the time just for special occasions.