Nearly every Italian-Canadian I follow on Twitter has pics of their Sunday dinners (at Nonna’s or elsewhere)…so here’s mine. Mini meatballs for lasagna making today.
Reminders of Italy and my heritage are all around here in Canada. I have a penchant for vintage items that are a peek into past lives, the way things used to be or a time when life was different. As a writer by trade, I also love paper items, especially with a story written on them.
As I come across them, I’ll share my Italian-related finds here. The first is this aged postcard from Rome, mailed in 1898 to New York. I can’t imagine what travel was like in that time or the cost it would be to travel from New York to Rome for a trip. What I love most is the writing on the front while the back is mostly empty, save for an address.
Here’s what it says:
As today is your birthday we sent this card in place of a letter and shall send a book when we reach London which will be next week some time. We wish you a happy birthday, many, many, happy returns of the day. Your papa came to Haples on Thursday – to Rome today – I shall write to Grandmas in a few days. We are glad you are such a good little girl. With lots of love to you all and kisses for our little Caryl.
How these papers get separated from their owners, or where the name Caryl for a girl came from, is beyond me. But I don’t mind that it makes me daydream of Rome.
Many times when I think of my “Italianness” and what it means to have culture and history in your life, your identity tied to your heritage, I think of an old friend of mine and his experience with his heritage. His story is one that always makes me think – what makes me Italian? What traits am I looking for? Who decides who I am at heart?
This particular guy was dating a friend of mine, she was Italian-Canadian and he was, by all accounts Italian. He had worked in Little Italy for some time and certainly, he had picked up some traits of the all-Italian machismo that surrounded him and from the patrons that were more often that not Italian. When he started dating my friend, his Italianness was even more evident – the way he loved, his passions, his love for food, his dedication to family and many other traits that at the time, we insisted – he was Italian in the most basic sense of the word. Yet, he was completely Canadian – tall and blonde and from small town Ontario.
Happy New Year! It’s a time for new things, and for me a time to try a few new things out on this project of mine that is at least a few months old now for me (and years in the making). I’ll be adding recipes, more photos as the year goes on and, of course, lots to say about being Italian-Canadian. Join me on my blog or follow me on Twitter @ItalianCdnLife.
Turdilli are a Christmas treat in our house. From my Calabrese side, they are indicative of the recipes from harder times – using what they had in the house for sweetness and flavour. In this case ,wine, coffee and honey for example. My grandparents would make these every Christmas, using a woven tool from their home town, a chestillu (I’m guessing here on spelling) to roll out the texture into the turdilli. It makes the same groves you would find on gnocchi and, in fact, that was the other thing we used a chestillu for. The end result is a sweet and savoury cookie (for lack of a better description) that is crispy fried on the outside, soft in the middle and coated in honey.