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November 8, 2013

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, POST-GAZETTE, NOVEMBER 8, 2013 Page 13 00Babb00nonno .... m by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance Halloween was over and seeing Nanna gave out nickels to the trick-or-treat kids, Babbononno would check with my mother to see if there was any candy left over. He had a sweet tooth. Beginning with the first week in November, the plans would begin to take shape regarding the next big holi- day, Thanksgiving. Nanna really didn't know the sig- nificance of this holiday, but Babbononno did. He loved history and knew about the Pilgrims and the Indians and how they celebrated that fall feast together. Now, New England cus- toms dictate that this trad- itional American dinner should include turkey as the main course, surrounded by certain side dishes like bread stuffing, mashed pota- toes, cranberry sauce, corn, squash and maybe sweet potato or candied yams. To wash all of this down, apple cider seemed like the best bet. When desert time approached, an assortment of pies would be placed on the dinner table. They included apple, blueberry, mince meat and whatever else could be conjured up by the women who prepared this tradi- tional dinner. So much for the American Thanksgiving. Babbononno loved America, but in his house, he was Italian and Thanksgiving would have to take an Italian slant to honor his adopted land and this annual holiday. Sev- eral weeks before the big day, he would give Nanna a few extra dollars to cover the cost of the event because it meant that the family, all three generations of us, would be at his dinner table. Nanna, who couldn't read or write, planned her pur- chases in her head. She would order a turkey from the Kosher poultry slaughter house on Lewis Street near Maverick Square in East Boston. She would plan to buy Italian coldcuts and Italian cheeses, as well as olives, anise, celery, mush- rooms in oil, hot peppers, sliced peppers in oil, bread sticks and loaves of old fash- ion round bread. This, plus a gallon of Zi'Antonio's best red wine and a few bottles of whiskey, rum and Italian brandy would all be part of just the appetizers, or anti- pasto set out on the kitchen table an hour or two before the Thanksgiving dinner. The main courses would be planned next. Nanna would boil a chicken and use the broth from it as the base for her escarole soup with tiny meatballs. The chicken would wind up in the refrig- erator for Babbononno to pick on later in the week- end. She bought King Arthur flour, semolina and eggs to make her homemade pasta. This would be the second course, followed by meat- balls, sausages, gravy meat that included pork, lamb and beef. Accompanying the meats would be beans sauteed in garlic and olive oil, stuffed artichokes, stuffed mushrooms and stuffed pep- pers. The next course would be salad. This would be just lettuce seasoned with olive oil, fresh lemon, salt and pepper. For dessert, there would be fruits and nuts. Contrary to popular belief, Italian people didn't eat pastry for dessert, it was too heavy. Fruits, nuts, figs and dried dates concluded the meal. To wash all of this down would be Zi'Antonio's wine once again, accompa- nied by Saraford orangeade, and a small bottle of Royal Crown Cola, just for me. Early in the evening of Thanksgiving, the table would be reset with Italian past- ries, and the sweet treats would be accompanied by Italian and American coffee, homemade anisette, what was left of the Italian brandy, and the remainder of the fruits from the last course of the dinner. Did I mention earlier that Nanna would order a turkey from the kosher butcher? Well she, Morn and I would head to Maverick Square on the day before Thanksgiving to pick it up, dressed and cleaned. A glassine bag would be placed in the hollow of the bird, and in it would be the organs that Nanna insisted remain with her purchase. On the morning of Thanks- giving, this bird would be stuffed with Nanna's egg stuffing and slowly baked in the oven of her big black old fashion stove that she would have polished with a black liquid that made the antique cooker look brand new. Seeing that this was an American holiday and tradi- tions had to be upheld, the turkey, once it was cooked, was placed in the middle of the dinner table. The prob- lem was, I don't ever re- member it being eaten. For all intents and purposes, my grandmother could have bought a plastic bird to grace the center of the table -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST-- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 just for decoration, because compared to all the Italian delicacies, a turkey was anticlimactic. I remember a few Thanks- giving dinners when the turkey was taken off the table when the meal was over and it was just as intact as when it was placed in the center. In reality, it was decoration, not part of the dinner. This meant that Babbononno would have something to pick on for the next week. Oh, I lied, I re- member Babbononno scoop- ing out the stuffing and hav- ing it with the meat course. He always would have a com- ment which, in today's En- glish comes out as, "The stuffing is something else." Chances were that Dad and Uncle Nick would have to play with the bands they were with on Thanksgiving night and when they sat down at the dinner table, they would have on tuxedo pants. Early in the evening, they would finish to dress and be out the door around 7:00 pm, complaining that they were stuffed and didn't know if they could play. If they weren't working, they and the rest of the men would sit in the living room, smoke their cigars and sip after dinner drinks, usually someone's home- made anisette or the same Italian brandy that was opened when it was time for the antipasto, hours earlier. The women, my mother, grandmother, aunts and great aunts would clean- up the mess from the fes- tivities of the day and then sit around the kitchen table and relate the latest neigh- borhood gossip while the men in the living room cre- ated a cloud of cigar smoke that was thick enough to choke a fireman. Well, Nanna's generation is gone as is most of my parents. They planted the seeds in my generation and on this November 28% my family will combine with that of my cousin Ralph Pepe and repeat the celebratory process of a Thanksgiving. The only thing is, after the antipasto on the kitchen table, the rest of the dinner will be traditional Yankee American. Afterward, I will bet that Ralph and I will talk about those old days. After all, to us those were roots. GOD BLESS AMERICA Your Ad Co uld Go Here For information about advertising in the Post-Gazette, call 617-227-8929. * Socially Scene (Continued yet inventive book by Joseph Robinette, A Christmas Story paints a refreshing holiday portrait of a simpler time in America. Unforgettably capturing every child's holi- day wonder with deliciously wicked wit, a nostalgic eye, and a heart of gold, it's a Christmas present that au- diences of all ages will be sure to embrace and cher- ish for generations to come. What a better way to get the holiday season started than with A Christmas Story. The Wang Theatre Citi Per- forming Arts Center is lo- cated at 270 Tremont Street in Boston. For more infor- mation on this and upcom- ing performances you can visit or call the Wang Theatre box office at 877-686-5366. Boston Philharmonic .... Will welcome conductor Ben- jamin Zander and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja for a series of performances No- vember 21 st through the 24 th. Benjamin Zander started his early musical training under the guidance of his 'father, in his native En- gland, with lessons in cello and composition. When he was nine, Benjamin Britten, England's leading composer, took an interest in his com- positions and invited the family to spend three sum- mers in Aldeburgh in Suf- folk where he lived. This led to a long association with Britten and lessons in theory and composition from Brit- ten's close associate Imogen Hoist, daughter of Gustav Hoist. He left school when he was 15 to study in Florence with the great Spanish cello virtuoso Gaspar Cassad6, who was his teacher and mentor for the next five years. He completed his cello training at the State Academy in Cologne, travelling exten- sively with Cassad6 and per- forming recitals and cham- ber music. In 1964 Benjamin Zander completed a degree at London University, win- ning the University College Essay Prize and a Harkness Commonwealth Fellowship for post-graduate work at Harvard. Boston has been his home ever since. If you are interested on learn- ing more about this fanatic composer you can visit www. benjaminzander, com. At the center of this pro- gram is an event that no one will want to miss, the Bos- ton debut of the phenomenal Moldavian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. In the past few years she has made a sensation in Europe with her performances and record- ings. In the center of her repertory is the music of central European composers of the twentieth century -- first and foremost Bart6k. Critics have been united in their praise of her amazing from Page 9) Patricia Kopatchinskaja will be making her Boston Philharmonics debut No- vember 21 "t and continuing through the 24 th. Photo courtesy of technique her probing intel- lectuality, and her deep un- derstanding not only of this music but also of its roots in central European folk mu- sic. Her playing can be fiercely passionate, but also nuanced with a delicacy of shading that is incompa- rable today. As you will hear, she has actually expanded the range of color and ex- pression of which the violin is capable. After the nervous energy of Bart6k's great concerto, the warm expansiveness of Brahms's Second Symphony will come as a wonderful respite. This beloved sym- phony is the closest Brahms ever came to writing a "pas- toral" symphony. With its wonderful evocation of the out of doors in bright sun- shine -- not a frequent occurrence in the music of Brahms -- it is a perfect complement to the noctur- nal conjurations of the Weber overture with which the concert begins. These chilling perfor- mances that are only here for a short time at various locations and times. You can find more information on tickets and directions at A Tasty Treat to Compli- ment Your Time in the City .... Estelle's is a new South- ern-inspired restaurant in the South End. It will not be mistaken for a mainstay in, say, Savannah, GA, nor does it try to be. Estelle's is definitively a Northern ap- proximation of what you'd find below the Mason-Dixon Line. Under direction of co-owner Brian Poe (Poe's Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, the Tip Tap Room) and ex- ecutive chef Eric Gburski (East Coast Grill) the orange- chile honey & parsley butter Tasso Ham Hushpuppies are something to talk about. The price is right, the cui- sine is top notch and they are located at 782 Tremont Street Boston. So stop in or make a reservation at 857- 250-2999. The Post-Gazette is now on the Web! Check us out at www'BstnPstGazette'cm" You'll find the history of the Post-Gazette, information about our columnists, as well as advertising, submission and subscription information. ................................ www.BostonPostGazette rnm