A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Channelling the old days

We're having a smaller group for dinner this year at Thanksgiving so we decided to turn it into a really traditional Italian Thanksgiving. That means you start with pasta! And not just any pasta - we're going to make home-made gnocchi. My kids and grandkids will come over early to roll and pinch the gnocchi just like "back in the day". I have such fond memories of my grandmother's house where all of us kids (after a thorough hand washing) got to help make the gnocchi. Then Grandma would put them in batches on a cookie sheet dusted with flour. In the spare bedroom she had spread a white sheet (I think we only had white sheets back then!) on the bed and dusted it with flour. Our job was to put the gnocchi on the bed, making sure none of them touched, and sprinkle with flour so they could dry before cooking. All of us would be covered head to toe in flour and loving every minute of it.

Growing up we always had pasta as a first course. A couple of times my cousin invited some of his fraternity brothers to our house if they couldn't get back home for the holiday. We would try to warn them about the volume of food. Alas, they would never listen. Nani Gene and Papa Jim would bring out the platters of pasta, meats cooked in the sauce (gravy to us Italians), salad and bread. The frat boys would devour it senselessly not heeding our warnings to pace themselves.

When the pasta was done, the women would clear off the table while the man sat there and finished their wine. There were satisfied sighs and burps all around. Then, a few minutes later, the womenfolk would waltz back in with the turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, broccoli, dressing, gravy (real turkey gravy this time), cranberry and rolls. This is about the time the frat boys would get a look of horror on their faces. But they dug in like the rest of us.

Once we were all in a total food coma, the women would again clear the table. About 20 minutes later the pies, cakes, cookies and candy would appear. Then it was time for a few naps, some clean up, football. Within 2 hours of dinner all the leftovers would magically appear on the table and we would be back at it. Usually playing a friendly game of "put and take" along with the eating. That was a fun little dice game that even the kids would play so there would be 20 of us yelling and trying to win pennies.

Our holidays haven't been that traditional since my grandparents passed away. The pasta disappeared as did the "put and take" dice. We've built our own traditions and hopefully my kids and grandkids will have fond memories of our time together. But this year we bring back the spirit of my grandparents with gnocchi and gravy.

I can't wait!


Mellodee said...

"Traditional Italian Thanksgiving celebration"? How about that. I didn't know those Pilgrims were Italian!!!

(LOL!! Sorry, couldn't resist!!)

Desert Diva said...

What a great tradition - I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!