Adventures of an Italian Food Lover...
I had first heard of this book while reading my beautiful and talented partner-in-crime's post regarding how a recipe from the book brought back wonderful memories of her grandmother.. the way she explained the book made me think of it not so much as a cookery book, but more of a book full of precious memories and celebrations of friends and family - through food. After I commented on her post, I immediately clicked over to Amazon to get this book up on my wishlist.. I waste no time, kids.. NO TIME.
Imagine my surprise and sheer delight just a few days later when I receive an e-mail from Ivonne with the subject "So don't hurt me..." -'kay well the surprise was there, and then there was a lil alarm, followed by "okay what the hell did we get ourselves into now?" before the sheer delight kicked in.. heee.
And I quote:
"I volunteered you for a book event."
"Since we’re sisters I figured I could do that without asking you first. Don’t ya’ love me???"
Yeah, I do love her. =) I, of course, was tickled freakin' pink to be involved with this event because I was more than curious to read this book. After all, I had it added to my wish list within 20 seconds after reading her post doncha know. A week or so later I received it in the mail and that night I started to read it..
I know we aren't suppose to "review" the book exactly, but I have to say to anyone who is thinking about buying it.. go for it. It's a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each and every friend she wrote about and how the recipes came about.
While trying to figure out what I was going to make, and the decision was a difficult one, I couldn't help but to keep thinking about a time in my life when I was 12 years old and my youngest sister had just been born. Now you are going to think this silly and well.. kind of strange, but bear with me.. is that bear?? or bare?? Wait.. it can't be bare - this is a PG-13 blog.
ANYHOO.. my father had picked myself and my younger sister up at my auntie's house after the baby was born to take us to their best friends' house.. this doesn't make as much sense to me now, why we didn't go see my mom and the baby, but I went with it pretty easily that day.. so we get over there and his friends are half looped as they'd been "celebrating" her arrival.. On the table was this pink stuff that was shaped like a fish sitting on a platter with a bunch of crackers spread around it and a butter knife stabbing it in it's head. Mrs. R urged me to try spreading some of the pink dead (obviously) stuff on a cracker but I didn't want anything to do with it as I was completely grossed out to the max ohmygod. Okay, so apparently my morbid fascination got the best of me, and I tried a wee schmear of it on a cracker and I remember my eyes lighting up and going back for a bigger schmear of the pink dead thing. Any thought of my newly born baby sister was completely gone from memory.. all I wanted to do was eat this stuff - it was so good!
Put a platter of salmon mousse shaped into a fish in front of me now and I would most definitely turn my nose up at it. I have no good reason why.. maybe the thought of ground fish kinda squicks me in my old age.. maybe it's because my youngest sister was spoiled 100 times more than I was. ;) I don't know - but on the day of her birth, all I truly remember is being at Mr. & Mrs. R's house stuffin my pie-hole with processed salmon and, I'm sure, a boatload of mayo.
Why the hell would I even mention this right now?? Because believe it or not - that is one of my earliest true food memories - oh sure, I remember the important stuff - the first time I tried lobster for one. But it was more than the actual food, it was the love and celebration and feeling completely safe with the company I was in. Mr. R has long since passed and I don't speak to Mrs. R anymore - fate, I guess.. and my dad.. one of the few times I remember him being completely and unabashedly excited, thrilled, happy and gushing. My God that man loved his girls.
Well there is no salmon mousse in Faith Willinger's Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. So I went with another item that is near and dear to my heart.. meatballs! My family has made the same meatball recipe since my grandmother's mother taught her eons ago. My grandmother taught my dad, my dad taught my mom and my mom taught me.. that's alotta meat-ah-balls! Our balls use the same ingredients (mostly) of our sauce so they are a good pairing together - but heck, no one can have just one meatball recipe in their repertoire now can they? So I was pretty jazzed about making these.
As always, when I'm rolling my meatballs memories come flooding back from the days of our restaurant business.. the hundreds upon hundreds of meatballs that were hand made every other day. The scooping, the rolling, the greasy hands and mucky fingers after about your 50th ball. Ugh.. the standing in the same position for hours.. that was the worst of it. But you know what? I'd give anything to be back in that kitchen standing next to my mom rollin' meatballs and shifting my weight from one screaming foot to the other. To bend my back to and fro' every hundred ball or so, just to work out the kinks. Listening to my dad on the other side of the huge butcher block table, whistling while he cleaned the beef tenderloin.. the heat.. the smells.. the royal pain in the ass it is to work for the public.. I miss it all and I remember it all - and it only takes (these days) 3 lbs. of ground round, some bread crumbs, cheese, herbs and a few eggs and I'm right back there where I belong.
A huge thanks to Ivonne (my heart), Cathy of A Blithe Palate and Faith, for including me in this special event.. for it was much more than enjoying a book.. it was many reasons and ways to revisit my favorite (and not so favorite) memories.