In the Italian-Canadian year, because it is marked by big events, January and February are sausage season (and capicollo and soppressata season). In truth, I’m not the biggest fan of cured meats. Though I’ll eat my share, what I like best about the whole process is that it becomes a big family get together. And, of course, we make things from scratch and we know exactly what is in the food we are eating. Here are a few photos from the yearly process.
With two grandparents passing away this year, there has been a lot to think about and a lot to sort out, mentally and physically. While doing just that kind of sorting, my family found this photo of my great grandfather in New York (where he originally landed from Italy and had a shoe repair shop) from 1947. I love it. From his smile to what the women are wearing behind him…it makes me wish I had been the one there taking the photo. It definitely makes me think about where I’ve come from and the new life I’m starting this year too. Old photos, new life, all the same here.
Whenever the first snow falls, I am reminded of my grandfather. Clean fresh snow layering the backyard and roofs, whatever is left in the garden (if there is a tomato stalk or two) and lining the patio stones making them look gleaming white. It’s usually a surprise from overnight, but early fresh snows meant a special treat that I haven’t made, and don’t know if I will make, in years.
So there’s definitely more of us out there thinking about what it means to be Italian-Canadian and how Italian that is. Last month, MacLean’s magazine published “When Italy met Canada”, a short article about how Italian immigrants settled in Canada in terms of culture and traditions and how we are not exactly like our cousins still living in Italy. Covering the typical tomato plants in the backyard, plastic on the couches and huge weddings, it suggested how shocked modern Italians would be of our culture here.
This year was the first time in many years (thank you paid employment) that I was able to attend Toronto’s Word on the Street. I’ve never had that weekend off. This annual festival of books, magazines, readers, writers and general literary folk has long been calling my name – I love to read and most of all, I love a good deal on a book.
Quite by accident I came out with the two books above only to realize on the way home that they are exactly what I’ve been about all year. I didn’t buy them with that purpose, they were just the two I loved on the table in front of me, but they are two things that this blog is all about.
I just finished reading Karen von Hahn’s article about Lidia Bastianich in the Toronto Star and couldn’t help feeling even closer to the kindly woman I have taken to watching on TV so often.
In the article, Lidia talks about our connection to food and why there is a North American fascination with Italy. Among the things she says that rings true to me is the how she learned to make everything from the land and by hand. It makes such a difference in our appreciation of food and our enjoyment of others. Here’s a sampling from the article.