Pasta w BRACIOLE
These are my memories of a lifelong love of Italian Food. From my first bowl of pasta and the food of my youth, as a young adult, and into later-life. The food, ever changing, making new discoveries, learning all the time through experiences, reading, travel, and what-not. As I grew up and ate the food that my mother made, the Italian dishes she made us became part of my life and ethnic background of being Italian-American. My mom Lucia Bellino was a 1st Generation Italian-American whose parents both came from Lercara Friddi, Sicily and immigrated to New York in the year 1904 before moving to the very Sicilian town of Lodi, New Jersey where my grandfather Philipo set up a shoe-maker shop on Main Street. So I grew up eating the food my mother made us on a daily basis, along with the fabulous food of my three aunts; Aunt Fran, Aunt Helen, and Aunt Wanda who were the spouses of my mother’s three brothers James, Tony, and Frank. My aunts were all amazing cooks and I always looked forward to visiting them at there homes, especially on Sundays when the whole family, aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather at Aunt Fran’s or Uncle Jimmy’s for a great big Sunday meal. A meal that started with antipasti, then pasta and a main course, and a marathon dessert and coffee course that lasted for hours. Yes these meals were always quite special as my aunts were some of the greatest cooks of Italian home-cooked food that I have ever known, and they made some of the same dishes as my mother, but the special treat were the dishes that my aunts made that were different from my mom’s, and of course oh so tasty. So I waited in wonderment to see what they had made. You see my mothers parents were from Sicily so my mom made dishes her mother taught to her. My Aunt Helen was from Salerno, not far from Naples so she made dishes from that region, and my Aunt Fran’s family were from Settefrati north of Rome, which some of Aunt Fran’s cooking would reflect the food of that region. You see Aunt Fran was my Uncle Tony’s wife and Aunt Helen was my Uncle Frank’s, thus our family repertoire was of Sicily, Lazio, and Campania the regions interlocked in our family through marriage and what-not. Yes the family meals were a never-ending memory of all of the so many fabulous family meals shared with my dear aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends and loved ones.
So my first memories of Italian food eating with my family, meals at home or at one of my aunts or uncles homes. We’d go out to eat every now and then at one of the families favorite local restaurants where I have my first memories of eating out in Italian Restaurants before setting out on my own as a young adult and then as a full grown man, eating in the best Italian Restaurants, Pastry Shops, Pork Stores, and Pizzerias in New York. And after New York, it was on to Italy; to Rome, Venice, Florence and other parts of Tuscan, Napoli, Capri, Positano, the Amalfi Coast, and at friends vineyards in Tuscany, Piedmont, the Veneto, and Sicily. Now we’re learning a whole other thing, Italian Food at its source, all over Italy, delving into the various regional cuisines of Italy, eating the local food and drinking the local wine, there’s nothing better. And all the beauty of Italy, of cities like Rome, Venice, Napoli, and Verona, and towns like Portofino, Positano, Amalfi, or Minori. Observing and immersing into the local customs and culture, it’s quite a learning experience, and one everyone should undertake if fortunate enough to get the chance, I’m so happy I did.
And I didn’t just eat and travel throughout Italy to learn of it’s great cuisine. I read all I could get my hands on of Italy and its food. I read every magazine and newspaper article I could find, and bought a hundred Italian cookbooks or more.
This was and still is a never ending journey that’s wonderfully rewarding. I’ve made so many discoveries big and small, and surprising as well. I ate, I savored, I enjoyed and I still am, eating and recalling Italian Food, one dish at a time.
Excerpted from MANGIA ITALIANO – Memories of Italian Food
by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
MEMORIES of ITALIAN FOOD
STORIES & RECIPES
Inside JOHN’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT
East 12th Street NEW YORK NY
“And it’s STill OPEN !”