Sunday, October 6, 2013

Memories of my Italian Grandparents

    I randomly heard or saw something the other day about Anise flavored Italian cookies. That brought back some memories for me about my Italian grandparents. They were my dad's parents. I have such great memories of them and their house from when I was a kid.

   There was always a houseful of people, especially at mealtimes. My grandmother, who we called Nanny, spent much of the day in the kitchen she had in the basement. To explain a little, her basement wasn't like the basements of today. It seemed to have stone walls, like it was cut into the earth. There was only a single bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Yet there were appliances down there, a stove and a refrigerator.  There were some cupboards and a big, well worn kitchen table as well.

    I believe she used that kitchen so as not to make her "good" kitchen dirty... Yet she did use the upstairs kitchen. I don't know the reasoning behind it. It seemed like she used the basement kitchen to make things that took a long time, like her homemade spaghetti sauce. I also saw her bring up from down there a big tray of fried dough. Yes, she made her own, and it was better than at the county fair.

    Anyway, there were always people in the house. As soon a dinner was done, more wine was poured and the instruments came out. Neighbors and other family members would stop by. My grandfather, who we called Poppy, played the mandolin and the accordion. My mom still has his mandolin. I would love to have it someday. There was always music being played.

    So my Nanny would make all the Italian cookies that you get on the platters. Usually one or two was anise flavored. I didn't like anise, it tastes like black licorice. Yuck. I think that as she got older, she forgot which cookies got the anise flavoring added to them. More and more of the cookies tasted icky. Eventually, all her cookies tasted like anise. She used it in all of them. That was when I stopped eating her cookies.

    Thinking and remembering about this really warms my heart. They are all gone now. I don't think families are like that anymore.  

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