I come from an Italian family. I know - I don't look it. I have pasty white skin and blue eyes - just like my Italian grandpa.
Every Sunday we went to my Gram's house for dinner - or as we New Englanders say - dinnah.
My Grandpa liked to eat - a lot. He liked his family at the table. So, we would sit at the table. It was piled high with different kinds of meat - beef, pork, lamb, and sausages. The gravy (spaghetti sauce) was in a bowl. The Sunbeam bread was piled high on a plate and the butter was the perfect temperature to spread... I'm sure there were vegetables, but I've blocked those from my memory.
Gram would dish the pasta out onto plates. Grandpa would tell her to put more on mine - it seems I was too thin and needed fattening up... The dishes were passed, the meat and gravy distributed. My pasta remained white. I put the butter and then the grated cheese. I waited. I knew it was coming. "White spaghetti!", my grandpa would yell from the other end of the table. "Yes." I was quiet - very unlike my cousins. "You need gravy! White spaghetti is no good! Have some gravy!", he'd say. "No thankyou." And then, my Gram or my mom would say something to him to distract him. I would eat my pasta. My only saving grace was that I could eat 3 plates full. He liked that. He did not, however, like it when I lined my peas up under the edge of my plate in a perfect circle that one time. Gram made me eat them cold. They were gross. On the days when we had steak on the grill, we would use the bread and butter to sop up the juice from the serving platter. Grandpa and I would race through our dinner so that we could get to the juice first. (For some weird reason, your plate had to be empty before you could sop up the juice.)
There was laughter and loud conversation at that table. I remember the wonderful aroma of Grams' kitchen and her running around shifting dishes in the oven and on the stove in her apron. I remember Grandpa's wild ideas about how things should be done. (Mom and Gram let him talk and then did what they wanted!)
I remember the day that my Grandpa tapped his finger on the edge of his empty wine glass. My sister - far more brazen than I - asked him what he wanted. He told her he wanted more wine. She told him it was right behind him on the counter and to get it himself. I stared wide eyed at her with my mouth agape. This was not the man to challenge! Everyone's forks stopped moving. There was an eerie silence. My Gram tried desperately not to laugh as she studied her plate. Fortunately, Grandpa liked Auntie Bug best. He laughed. (She always gave him a run for his money!!)
Soon, my children will have their grandparents here to share similar times -- Although, I don't think I've seen my mother wear an apron or ever heard my dad tell my mom how to run her kitchen... They will laugh, tell stories, and be together. That's what family should be all about.
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