This last weekend I took part in something uniquely Italian and, itself, uniquely Canadian. I know there must be many families that have had family reunions, but two things struck me about the Tamburro Family Reunion that I attended: first is that Italian families are just so huge, second is that only because of immigration and separation of these large families is the need for a reunion so real these days.
What was extra special about this family reunion was that it was a few years in the making by a fantastic committee and brought together parts of my grandmother’s (on my dad’s side) family. And what a family! The family tree that was researched, drawn out and displayed was fantastic and not only made me understand my connections to my extended family members, but also resulted in a lot of hugs and kisses like this:
Italian Heritage Month is flying by so I wanted to take a moment to share photos (and video) of a few events that have happened.
First up, Taste of Little Italy in Toronto
Crostata is a family favourite and an easy, quick recipe that results in colourful and flavourful squares. Plus, it uses up jars of jam, which I was attempting to do to make room for new jam experiments this summer.
I say it’s easy, but I’ll be honest. My first attempt at crostata was a weak one (let’s just say I didn’t measure right). I got frustrated so I started looking at other crostata recipes, including in The Silver Spoon, but the crusts were more like shortbread/shortcrusts with butter. While I’m sure they would taste good, it wasn’t authentic to how my family and relatives cook their recipes. For example my family uses oil, probably originally olive oil, instead of butter and liquor like Anisette instead of vanilla, which they never would have had, for flavouring.
So I stuck it out and tried our family’s original recipe again. And again. And now it’s not only mastered, but memorized. It turns out it is really easy, as long as you are paying attention and measure right!
In this version of crostata, I dug out a jar of my mom’s peach-orange freezer jam and used Triple Sec (orange liquor) for flavouring the dough.
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup oil
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 ½ to 4 cups all purpose flour, perhaps a little more for dusting
2 teaspoons vanilla, or liqueur or flavour of your choice
2 cups of jam or your choice
I’ve already missed a bunch of great events that took place this last weekend, but I had my own Italian heritage experience. Both my grandparents on my father’s side passed away last year and the past weekend saw the family gather together to empty and sell their house. It was the house they bought when they came to Canada so emotions were high and every item had a meaning. The more we went through and discovered, the more I got a taste of my own Italian heritage – plates that were first bought when they arrived in Canada, a trunk that came from New York where my great grandfather landed, shoemaker’s tools from my grandfather’s first profession, damigiane and mason jars in the cantina and so on.
Having the time to consider my grandparent’s life experiences made me realize how inspiring it is to be part of a family that had brave members that started a new life here in Canada. Our great grandparents, grandparents and parents are leaders in our families, not only for their ages, but for what they did to bring our families and lives the change that they did.
There is much to be inspired by within the Italian Canadian community, not just from our families but from our community leaders and I’m so happy to see many events within Italian Heritage Month that focus on just that.
The one I’m most excited about – Inspire 2012! Last year, a group of Italian-Canadian business and cultural leaders came together to offer Inspire, an event where youth can hear and interact with the life experiences of successful Italian Canadians. The event had such great turnout that it was also run in smaller venues at three universities in Ontario. The large event is back this year and open to youth of all communities.
The stories, advice and experience of the speakers will give youth the opportunity to learn, aspire and be inspired to motivate change in their own lives. This year’s event, which is free and held on June 17th in Vaughan, features Rick Campanelli of MuchMusic and ETCanada fame; Dr. Jonathan Cardella a vascular and endovascular surgeon; Raine Maida the founding member and lead singer of Our Lady Peace; award-winning reporter Sue Sgambati; and business leader Frank Carnevale.
The event is growing from the 150 audience members last year and has attracted large sponsors like Scotiabank and The Canadian Italian Business Professionals Association, Hilton in Vaughan, Ferrero Canada, GEOX Canada, Marketwire, Longos, Pizza Nova, Molisana Imports and more. Some of the sponsors are even offering internship opportunities to participants.
I’m excited to hear inspiring stories from Italian Canadians and will definitely be there. Join me at Inspire 2012 – all you need to do is register online and show up on June 17th. Happy Italian Heritage Month!
May was a whirlwind of family events and weddings of friends. The weekends were taken up with presents and cakes and dancing and while I was really exhausted as this month came to an end, I didn’t mind it a bit. But I did want some time to ourselves to get the house back in order. We had also, in cooking quickly all month, emptied some containers of food in the freezer including our fresh pasta (even the spelt pasta). So we finally carved out some time to make fresh homemade pasta.
But we wouldn’t be Italian if we didn’t over do it a little bit. And since my husband’s parents have a farm full of chickens, ducks and geese, we had all sorts of eggs in our fridge. Put the two together and we made “Papara Pasta” (papara meaning duck in Calabrese dialect).
15 cups of flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
One goose egg, six duck eggs, four chicken eggs
You can see from the picture just how large that goose egg is (it’s about equal to three normal chicken eggs). The smaller, darker six eggs are from the ducks, the remainder are Andalusian chicken eggs. The eggs are so fresh, and free range, that the yolks were nearly orange and the pasta turned out a dark yellow. Ingredients for a “normal” batch is also included below. No matter the quantity you set out to make, the process is the same. Although be warned, if you’re crazy enough to make a big batch like us, make sure you have someone with serious arm muscles on hand for the kneading part.
Every month, I’ll cover the online news and items of interest to Italian-Canadians collected from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, online newspapers and more.