Do you ever chuckle when you notice old-fashioned things from the past that have coaxed their way into the present? Isn’t it funny that the Nutella that could only be found in your Nonna’s pantry which she’d brought back from Italy in her suitcase is now found on every grocery shelf in America? I smile at the sweater that my dad handed down to me — a wool pullover he’d outgrown that his grandmother had knit him — because now my teenage daughter wears it skiing. You know the bocce courts behind some of the bars in Boston…
Un momento!Before I continue, please join me for just a moment while we get to know each other. Many of you are like me, eager to read the pages of Bostoniano magazine for an authentic taste of our Italian heritage. It’s a pleasure to meet you!
I’ll stop by every month, in print and online, in my new Bostoniano column, entitled “Un Momento!” where we can break bread over stories of traditions, family, food and wine, trips to Italy, art (books, film, theater) and any other thing that connects us. I hope you’ll stop by for anecdotes from my past and present, where Italian culture imbues everyday life in various ways, whether funny, heartwarming, or sometimes thought-provoking, like healthy carrots simmering in an otherwise decadent Bolognese sauce.
I’m a Buffalo, New York, native and now live on the South Shore with my husband and two children. Along with my grandparents, my father immigrated to Buffalo from Tuscany when he was a boy, over fifty years ago. My mother is an Italian-American, and together they raised me and my two younger brothers there. I graduated from the University at Buffalo and later earned a law degree, but it was the bomb scares, run-ins with the Italian military intelligence service, and car chases I endured while studying counter-terrorism and art history at the American University of Rome that spurred my interest in writing thriller novels. It’s also where I met my husband, Jamie, an Italian-American from Boston. Together, we share two children, two wines stores, and a dog named Lupo.
Our family works to incorporate our Italian heritage into all aspects of our lives. On “Pasta Sundays,” we crank up the Bocelli and make homemade pasta for friends, family, and anyone else we can convince to try my meatballs. Jamie runs Italian vocabulary flash cards with my ten-year-old son, Mario, while they roll the dough. Convincing my fifteen-year-old daughter, Sabrina, to put down her French homework takes a bit more finagling, but she’s always eager to stuff the ravioli with ricotta and spinach mix if she knows she’ll get extra.
Our wine stores allow us the good fortune of meeting Italian wine producers and sharing what they know. Though our meager dozen or so backyard vines will likely never produce enough crop to yield even a glass, Jamie’s always looking for tips on pruning and fertilizing them. We’re also blessed with opportunities now and again to return to Italy, where we visit wineries, gather research for my writing, and most importantly, visit our relatives living in Tuscany, with whom we also remain connected via the magic of Facebook.
I’m thrilled and grateful to join Bostoniano, and I’m humbled to become a part of the team of contributors here, as their fresh, fun, and insightful columns keep me coming back for more every month. I met Bostoniano’s founder, Nicola Orichuia, at an Italian American Cultural Organization meeting a couple of years ago, and it’s wonderful to watch his magazine of feature articles, community events calendar, recipes, and cultural reviews continue to grow, spurred by those in our community who crave more information about Italian culture in Boston.
The name of this column, Un Momento!, is a phrase I grew up with, my father’s response anytime mom called him for dinner, and one I still hear today from my son whenever I’m calling him for dinner. What’s past is present again, and I think you’ll agree that sometimes what we gaze upon as a treasured memory, reinvents itself into a life lesson today. Also, there are some things that might have affected an older generation, and may or may not apply to our younger generations, like what we eat for our Christmas Eve feast, or how we vote in an upcoming election, or the games that our children play in the schoolyard, or even what we talk about around the dinner table every night. I look forward to sharing with you anecdotes from my Italian-American life, in the hope that you too might relate to the fun of sharing un po’ di folly and un po’ di solemnity of carrying on cherished ideas and traditions.