Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happiness Is Being Italian

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Federico Fellini

Picture it... Sicily... 1955...

Remember the "Golden Girls?" Estelle Getty's character would always regale her friends with anecdotal stories from her homeland? With all due respect to Sophia Petrillo, not all stories of Italian pride have to take place in the Old Country.

There we were, the three of us, enjoying Sunday dinner as a family just like the countless times I remember growing up. The one difference: it wasn't three in then afternoon. The peanut in her highchair, pulled flush against the dining room table, flanked by me and my wife. All of us with a heaping, steaming, sweet-smelling bowl full of Italian goodness sitting in front of us: rotini, ravioli, pecorino, sausage, garlic.

It was arguably the best pot of gravy I had ever made.

It's called "gravy" when you add meat to it
I watched as my daughter shoveled bite after bite after bite into her mouth, without hesitation or negotiation. She was happy, dancing, humming. I wasn't focused on eating my own dinner because I was getting so much enjoyment out of watching my daughter eat hers. I turned my attention back to my own plate, looked down, and just shook my head. In amazement.

"What's wrong?" asked my wife.

"Nothing," I said. "I'm just content."

It was then I realized that my favorite thing about myself just may be the fact that I am 100% Italian-American. We are a dwindling breed. None of my first cousins can even claim that distinction. Neither can my daughter.

There are people out there who hear "Italian" and picture a loud, crude, mafioso slob. I'm not offended by these people. I feel sorry for them. What offends me as an Italian-American is that Olive Garden, Ragu, and Chef Boyardee attempt to pass themselves off as genuine Italian cuisine.

Don't get me wrong, I mean no disrespect to those of you whose ancestry can not be traced back to the country shaped like a boot. Italian-Americans wear a certain badge of honor. And I'm not talking about the jewelry those guidos who walk the Boardwalk in Seaside Heights wear around their necks (They offend me too).

I told my wife that Sunday pasta dinner will now become a tradition in our home, just like when I grew up. The pot of gravy will forever become a simmering fixture on top of my stove. This is what's in our blood. This is what has been passed down from generation to generation.  I am perfectly content being the one to pass it along to my daughter. Even though she's only half Italian.

Nobody's perfect.


  1. hehe that made me thing of kung fu panda. when you said its in our blood. lol we are pasta folk. gravy runs thru our veins hahahahaha. o boy im funny

  2. picture it jersey city 1950,the tw0 little consiglio sisters gazing at there new baby brother. how sweet. what's even sweeter was the aroma coming from our kitchen as our mother prepared our sunday dinner, yes you guessed it a big pot o gravy. the wonderful aroma was not only through our apartment, but through our that's italian





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