By Tom Cesarini
The Convivio Now and Again Series comprises oral histories from Italian community members. In these excerpts from interviews with Louis Palestini and Luke Vinci, the treasurer and secretary of the Little Italy Association, respectively, they discuss the importance of food and the holiday season.
Palestini recalls with a particular fondness the holidays spent in the Italian neighborhood, noting importantly the family dynamics during these times, saying, “Holiday times, like most families, we have the whole gang over the house … Actually, our family would go from house to house for a whole week … My mother and aunts and grandmothers would make the pasta, raviolis, cookies, and of course, the cannolis … I remember my grandmother making bread, like in the old days, with the ovens they had in the backyard. I used to love it when my grandmother would call us; she’d get the bread out of the oven and call me and my cousins and then she would cut the bread in half, put the oil on it —and it was good stuff. Christmas was celebrated with your family but also the rest of your neighborhood friends. You’d walk down the street; they’d have you come in the house; they had all the homemade cookies. It was just a good life.”
Examining the intermingling of his two primary cultural influences, American and Italian, Vinci states, “We grew up in a house that holidays were celebrated. Tradition is very important in Italian families.” As his mother isn’t Italian, Vinci explains that his father handled the “responsibilities for Christmas dinner,” adding, “We always have lasagna, and other than barbecuing, (Christmas) was the only time of the year my dad cooked.” Vinci mentions the importance of the “family endeavor that we created” in the traditional preparation of the holiday meals. “We cooked 15 trays of lasagna, and it would take a week, a day for the sausage, a day with the meatballs, and assembling it all, and cooking the sauce,” he explains.
Christmas with Convivio
On Dec. 14, Convivio continues the tradition of breaking bread in good company as we celebrate the holiday season at Amici House!
Dec. 14 | 6 p.m. | Amici House, Little Italy
Music, music, music! Featuring Jim Bianchi tickling the ivories and Rosario Monetti on vocals, plus our world-famous sing-along!
Delicious pot luck and scrumptious desserts — bring a dish to share with everyone.
Espresso coffee drinks by Arcidiacono Coffee.
Holiday Giveback. Bring a non-perishable food item or clothing, coats and/or blankets for our homeless community.
We look forward to seeing you for our festivities with friends old and new!
And be on the lookout for our pre-sale tickets this month for “Arrival From Sweden: The Music of ABBA,” coming May 5 to Little Italy!
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