Monday, June 13, 2011

Nana Nanutz

When I was growing up in Union City, once a month or so, we would go to visit my mother's father's sister, Aunt Ermelinda, and his mother, Rosina.  My great-grandmother's attic apartment was a wonderful place to visit, up a narrow set of stairs that seemed to go on forever, but once I got to the top, I loved to sit on her large sleigh bed and brush her hair, or sit in her kitchenette and admire the collection of cows that filled the shelves on the long wall.  She would pour me a cup of hot chocolate in an espresso cup and we would "have tea" and look out the window.  And she would sing songs in Italian, that sadly I do not remember, but her voice would always make me happy.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Italian Vegetable Garden

This is my father's father's mom, Diana Sciumbata.  When we visited her in Jersey City, she only spoke Italian.  I would listen to her voice that was like music, and even though I did not understand what she was saying literally, the sense of what she was saying was carried in the way she spoke to you.  

Her Italian garden was in the alleyway between their two-family apartment house and the used car lot next door.  However, it was quite authentic, with tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, herbs, and spices.  In the alleyway, she had a very large metal bucket on a rope connected to a clothesline pulley on the second floor.  She would fill the bucket and leave it on the table.  When she went upstairs, she would open the window and pull up the bucket overflowing with the day's picks.  

Fresh tomato sauce and eggplant parmigiana.  Picked that morning before breakfast and enjoyed that evening for dinner with freshly baked bread.  Are you smelling it yet?