Nonna = Love

Part of my extended family includes Carlo, who is a 1st gen Italian American, and his beautiful wife Denise. Carlo’s family has a fascinating history. His Mother, lovingly known as Nonna, saved her family from execution by Mussolini’s army after her convent was bombed when she was just 16. Also in their family tree is Giuseppe Leonardo Albanese, Albanian royalty and later Italian government leader who was sentenced to the guillotine in 1899. Can you imagine?

I had wanted to experience a typical Italian Sunday meal before my trip and Denise & Carlo invited me and my parents to their home to share in a ‘Nonna Sunday Meal’. Denise noticed a white butterfly flitting around the front porch when she welcomed us inside. Later, we learned that is her symbol for Nonna after her passing! We had her blessing.

First thing we take in is the fragrant smell of tomato sauce, or gravy, as they call it. I had to lift the lid and get a closer whiff because this is pretty damn close to heaven. I can’t wait to taste everything.

For those who might not know, the Sunday meal for Italians is a huge tradition that is more than just the meal. It is a ceremony for socializing between families and friends that has been repeated for generations. The recipes are as old as time and must be carried on to the future cooks of the family. The menu goes like this:  (no appetizers) 1. Pasta, 2. Meat & fresh veggie, 3. Salad, 4. Fruit of the season, 5. Dessert, served with homemade wine, of course.

Nonna could always be found in the kitchen and on Sunday afternoons, at 1:00, she lowered the shade. This was the sign that all the kids playing outside needed to come home and take their places around the family table.  My friends did an amazing job sharing this tradition with us, complete with old family photos on display, Italian music, wine and the ever present tub of ricotta on the table.

Turns out, Carlo had fun filming Denise preparing the courses (an all day event) to later share with their family, and, in my opinion, should also be on You Tube for the world so see. Although she was in her PJ T-shirt, is doesn't really matter. What does matter is, when I asked Denise 3 words to describe Nonna, said there is only 1 word. Love.

Grazie Gallello Family. 

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