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July 5, 2013     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, JULY 5, 2013 Page13 u 00Y'anna 00abb00nonno by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance The 4  of July has always been very important for my Italian family. It was a chance to prove you had be- come an American. As a matter of fact, I never saw an Italian flag in Nanna and Babbononno's house, only a small American flag aside of Nanna's black metal Statue of Liberty. July 4  was a day to cel- ebrate and a time for the family to come together so, Babbononno would speak to his brother-in-law, Nanna's oldest brother and my grandfatl{er's best friend, Zi' Antonio Ceruolo. They would plan for a family out- ing that might include three generations of the extended family. Knowing where they liked to go Dad would book in a barbecue pit at the picnic area on Mystic Lake. From that point on, family mem- bers would be asked if they were interested in a 4 th of July get together. Usually, from the first generation, Nanna and Babbononno would be counted in, as well as Zi' Antonio and his wife, Zi' Mariuccia. From that sec- ond and third generation we had Dad, Mom, me, Uncle Paul, his wife Aunt Eleanor, and their daughters, Paula and Ellie. On my mother's side, on one occasion, Uncle Gino and Aunt Ninna came along even though Aunt Ninna was almost ready to deliver twins. From Zi' Antonio's side would be my mother's cousins, Louise Pepe and Marie Beatrice, accompanied by their hus- bands, Ralph and AI, respec- tively. Louise's kids were always with them at family get togethers and they were my closest cousins even though they were second cousins. The list included Lulu, Anthony and Ralph Jr. The Beatrice kids would ac- company their parents, Elizabeth and Allen. One year, the list included Dad's sister, my Aunt Mary ac- companied by her husband Jim Dello Russo and their son,-Jim. If Dad could talk him into joining us, Grandpa Christoforo would tag along. Seeing the celebration was for the 4 , the prepara- tions would begin the week before. All the ladies would begin to prepare the food. The slight difference be- tween a typical American 4 th and our 4 th would be what we ate. An American 4 th might include hotdogs and hamburgers, accompanied by potato salad, corn on the cob, maybe baked beans and watermelon. The main beverage would be beer and soda for the kids and that's it. This was an American holiday, but we were Italian. Nanna, Zi' Mariuccia and the rest of the ladies would distribute the menu that would include the things that were going to be brought but prepared in advance, gravy, gravy meat, meat balls, lasagna, sausages-on- ions-peppers, stuffed pep- pers, stuffed artichokes, stuffed mushrooms and whatever else might be found on a Sunday dinner table. Dad and the men would have sausages made up by a local butcher and when they were ready would include in the order, steaks, lamb chops, spare ribs and of course, hotdogs and ham- burgers which only the kids might eat. The bread would be Italian. The only compro- mise here might be that the loaves would be sliced in ad- vance. Where the Ameri- cans might have a jar of pickles, Dad would bring a jar of hot peppers. In case some- one wanted sandwiches, a variety of Italian cold cuts and cheeses would be avail- able, or they could be the main part of an antipasto. For dessert, the Americans might bring apple pies. My family brought cannoli and an assortment of other past- ries and cookies from Qual- ity Bakery, then located in Day Square in East Boston, or Mike's Pastry in the North End. The liquid refreshments included gallons of Zi' Antonio's best home-made red and maybe a gallon or two of Grandpa Christoforo's summer white wine. A few bottles of hard liquor were available for those that liked highballs. Al Beatrice liked beer and would have a case or two of his favorite. For after dinner, oops, the cook- out, a bottle or two of home- made anisette might show up. Several bottles of soda for the kids were always available. We now had the fixings for an Italian outing. Even though Dad had re- served a barbecue pit, he would bring along his Coleman gas stove and a por- table barbecue contraption because pre-cooked food had to be heated and the barbe- cue pit that was reserved was never large enough for all that had to be done. Dad would include several Cuban cigars for after dinner and -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 the first generation would bring their stogies and with this, we were ready for a 4  of July cookout. For entertainment and ex- ercise, we kids brought baseball equipment, bats, balls and gloves. The older men brought a set of bocce balls and a couple of decks of cards. Early in the morning of the 4 th, Dad and Babbononno would pack Dad's old Ply- mouth with everything we were bringing and with Nanna and Babbononno in the back seat and Mom and me in front, it was off to the Mystic Lake picnic area. Of course, all the kids would have their bathing suits under their outer clothing because the lake had a public beach. We had a prob- lem though, we could swim before eating, but we were prevented from swimming after eating for at least an hour. Our mothers and grandmothers would tell us that if an hour hadn't passed we could get cramps and drown. It was an old wives' tale but we kids believed it and waited Out the hour by playing tag or hide and go seek. Someone in the family al- ways prayed to St. Anthony for good weather the night before and the prayers al- ways seemed to work as we were blessed with cloudless skies, year after year. By 10:00 am, everyone who was coming was there and the cooking and eating would begin. If someone had a glass of wine too many, there would be blankets to lie down on. This usually didn't hap- pen as no one really wanted to miss out on anything. By noon, the steaks, chops and sausages were on the grill and the serious eating would begin, not just the picking that preceded the noon time hour. By the time the afternoon rolled around, Mom would put a couple of pots of coffee on Dad's Coleman stove and when it was ready, the past- ries would come out and be placed on the picnic table covered with wax paper to keep the flies away. To reset the table, the ladies would interrupt card games, whist being played by the American born and briscola, sette belle and scope being played by the old timers. We kids just kept asking about the time so we could head back into the lake and splash around again. This was the essence of a genuine American holi- day celebration done Italian style and if there was a problem with anyone, some- one would have a bottle of Brioschi to sooth the stom- ach. They are all gone now, including some from my generation, but those were great days and it was great fun. Aren't you glad you're from an Italian family??? GOD BLESS AMERICA Socially Scene (Continued from Page 9) winning composer, Nick Grondin has presented his music to audiences through- out the U.S. and Europe, in- cluding France, Germany and Spain. He can regularly be heard performing with some of the Boston area's finest musicians and has performed concerts with major artists from jazz legend Bob Moses to the Pop/Opera super group II Divo. His origi- nal pieces have received awards such as 2008, 2009 and 2011 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards, the 2008 Down Beat Magazine Stu- dent Music Award for Best Arrangement and the 2007 Down Beat Award for Best Extended Jazz Composition. He also leads the Nick Grondin Group, which per- forms regularly in the Bos- ton area and New York. Their innovative sounds and art- fully-filmed live videos can be heard/viewed via http:// www.youtube.com/ user / NickGrondinMusic. For more information on Nick visit www. nickgrondin.com/ This Double Bill extrava- ganza will be held Sunday, July 14 th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at The Lily Pad located 1353 Cambridge Street, Cambridge. For more information on this perfor- mance and where to pur- chase tickets you may visit www. liUypadcambridge.com A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... Cinquecento; when you first arrive there is a strik- ing illuminated cast iron and glass staircase greeting you that leads to the main din- ing room and bar. The main dining room features a rustic mix of reclaimed beams and bricks, biscuit tufted Italian leather ban- quettes and booths, tradi- tional tables and two trattoria style communal tables. The curved, serpen- tine shaped bar is made of illuminated onyx and a striking black Italian marble top. Everywhere you look you see nooks and crannies that allow a couple to escape for an intimate second, yet still remain part of the greater environment. Downstairs you will find a private dining room featuring state-of-the- art media capabilities and its own private bar -- perfect Double Bill Concert to be held in Cambridge on July 14 th. (Photo Courtesy of .assafkehati.com) for parties and work func- tions. Cinquecento will also offer one of the South End's most pleasant outdoor dining spaces tucked away from the hustle and bustle with an idyllic 60-seat patio open during the warmer months. Cinquecento, a Roman Trattoria, is located at 500 Harrison Avenue in Boston's historic South End. Cinquecento, which trans- lates into 500 in Italian, offers neighbors of this edgy community a contemporary, casual and energetic Roman Trattoria, perfect for a spon- taneous night out or your go-to spot for dinner and brunch. Cinquecento will be the perfect meeting place for visitors and residents alike, as the restaurant will offer complimentary parking in their adjacent lot. Located in the burgeoning SOWA area of Boston, Cinquecento was conceived to fill the need for an Italian neighborhood restaurant and gathering spot. According to The Aquitaine Group's founding Chef and Partner Seth Woods, "We envisioned a comfortable, inviting restau- rant reminiscent of neigh- borhood trattorias found in Rome. A place where friends will come several nights a week, no matter where they are coming from or going to. The menu will be steeped in the Roman roots of sim- plicity, custom and comfort." You can call 617-338-9500 for reservations or visit www.cinquecentoboston.com for a peek at the menu. 9