Today: Feb 26, 2024

Family traditions not just about the food

Photo courtesy JESSICA ESPOSITO JESSICA ESPOSITO — Staff Writer

What happened to tradition? In today’s society we are so fast-paced and have so little time that we forget about our heritage. We forget about the most important thing in life – family. My favorite day was – and still is – Sunday because that is the day that I spend at my grandmother’s house.

Every Sunday at 2:30 my family and I go to my grandmother’s house and sit together in the dining room for dinner. We each have our designated seats; my father sits at the head of the table where my grandfather used to be before he died. Then on his right is my mom, then my brother, then my cousin. My uncle sits at the opposite end of the table, then my other cousin, then there’s me sitting next to my grandma of course. Those are our assigned seats and it has to be that way or else.

We have pasta, sauce, Italian bread, salad, meatballs, eggplant, broccoli rabe, and yes, my grandma cooks all of that each Sunday. The best way that I can describe Sunday is that it is like a holiday in our family.

My grandma makes the best sauce and no one in my family can top it. She has taught me several recipes over the years. She has taught me how to make her famous sauce, meatballs, broccoli rabe, eggplant and so many other traditional Italian dishes. I can make a pretty good sauce, but it’s not quite my grandma’s. My poor mother had the challenge of trying to live up to my grandmother’s sauce (her mother-in-law’s). My mother would call us to dinner, and I’d mush around the sauce and pasta in my plate. She would always say “What’s the matter? You don’t like it?” Then I would say, “It’s not grandma’s…” and then she would get all offended and say that she followed my grandmother’s recipe exactly and that I was just being fussy. The truth is, my mom was missing an important ingredient. It is “the grandma touch,” and trust me, this ingredient cannot be found in a grocery store, even if you do look in the Italian section.

So many traditions get lost or watered down from generation to generation, and I think that it is very unfortunate. For me, every year on Good Friday we go to my grandma’s and make Apizza Gain (ham pie). We spend all day cutting up all the cheese, ham and pepperoni, and my grandma and I work together to make the crust. But we can’t eat any of this delicious pie until Saturday morning. In a typical Italian family like mine, these are just some of our traditions. Regardless of your heritage or what your traditions are, you need to take a step back and slow down before you lose what makes you unique.

My grandma always says how happy she is, that even though we are older we still come to visit every Sunday. I guess it is strange for grandchildren to frequently visit their grandparents but not for my brother and I. If I didn’t have my grandma and traditions like Sunday dinner, where would I learn about my heritage, or how to cook food that makes my mouth water the minute I go into the kitchen? The truth is I really wouldn’t be as knowledgeable about these things, and I would not be the person that I am today. So thank you to my grandma for shaping me into the woman that I am. The food is just an excuse to get together; the important thing is the getting together.

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