Traditions were set in place from a young age by the Italian and Slovak sides of my family, while the new have been embraced by the flavors and traditions of other cultures. Regardless of how these traditions came to be, the why is what keeps us coming back to them. Nothing can compare to the time we rally in the kitchen to recall our past, form new memories and savor delicious food made from scratch!
If you are new to the family kitchen experience, try simple recipes to start like these Easy Pulled Pork Tacos. This recipe is an example of a quick and easy make-ahead, family dinner. This is a great way to get the kids in the kitchen and share in the experience of creating delicious, nutritious and fun food! So many wonderful things have come to me and my family through the sharing of recipes, know-how, laughter and food.
The Passing Down of Traditions is a way of living that is truly the backbone of our families and at the heart of a thriving society. When I think back to my impressionable years, I envision Grandma in her venerable Italian apron moving about her simple, bright-white kitchen while clutching her wooden rolling-pin. (I tear-up a bit when I picture those beautiful hands at work. I have glimpsed those same hands at work while I knead bread or pizza dough in Grandma’s manner.)
She moves with certainty around the kitchen like the queen of her domain-confident and strong for the tasks at hand. Flour spreads over the edges of her steel table adorned by a well-preserved, Italian table-cloth garnished by pears, oranges and grapes. Puffs of flour shoot up in the air like clouds in a clear blue sky as she goes about the work of rolling out the hand-made cavatelli dough.
With the precision of a master, she slices the dough into long 3-foot strips atop the wooden cutting board. She then finishes her mission as 1 1/2 inch pieces lay in waiting for us grandkids to press. We scream with delight as she releases us to our assignment of pulling across the dough to form the well-loved pasta shape. We are preparing for the weekly, Sunday family dinner at Grandma’s. With pride, we perform our duty until the 300-500 cavatelli are done to Grandma’s liking! As we gather together on Sunday, we look across the table at each other and smile when the crowd applauds our efforts. We feel accomplished and excited for our next session with Grammy. She laughs as she recalls the mishaps and taunts us to make a bigger batch the next time!
With wide eyes and new inspiration, we anticipate that day with open hearts. Bellies full and jobs complete, we cousins retreat to the basement to play as the grown ups drink wine, laugh and share their weekly stories.
Nothing in the world compares to these memories and their importance in my life is the reason I have passed them on to my children. My hope is that they hold those in their minds and hearts forever passing them onto the next generation-and so on, and so on.
Mangia Bene (Eat Well) and Gustare la Cucina (Enjoy Cooking)!!