Friday, January 15, 2010


As long as I can remember Friday nights have always been family night. When I was young it wasn't uncommon for 10 or more extended family members to join us at the kitchen table. My mother's sister Gloria [who lived with mom and me] would put on a feast. More friends and family would usually drop in later for coffee, dessert, gossip and nostalgia.

I loved Friday nights. The house was filled with love and fun and cousins to play with. The aroma of tomato sauce was inescapable. When you were there you knew you belonged. That's where and when I developed my loving relationship with food and cooking. I watched Gloria cook. I pitched in. I saw the look on everyone's faces as the food was being served.

Family night was always a deleted scene from MOONSTRUCK

Sure there was love and food and fun and strong ties to the past but don't think it was all smooth and congenial. Italian families, my family, don't work that way. Along with the niceties were the arguments, temperaments, gossip and scandals. No quiet bunch, this Clemente-Lanni clan!

And then there was the humor

Larger-than-life personalities seems to be genetic. When uncle George [Orlando] and his wife were in the house you knew there were going to be laughs. As a kid I had to miss a great deal of George's humor because I was sent out of the room with the other kids. I could hear the laughter coming from the kitchen and I sorely wanted to be in with the "grow-ups". George had colorful language. This was long before political correctness. George was our very own Richard Pryor or Red Foxx. There's a lot of George in me, at least my sense of humor.

Times change and family shrinks

Family members have fallen by the wayside and my generation is spread all over the place with kids of their own but I have continued the Friday family tradition. Sure most weeks there are only 4 or 5 of us but I cook family favorites and we sit around the table and yell and argue and reminisce.

Tonight's menu:

Pasta Fagioli [we say pasta "fazool"] *

Breaded chicken cutlet


Italian cheesecake

*recipe to follow

1 comment:

  1. Love it!! And the music is perfect!! Didn't have much extended family growing up - but married into a large Italian one and loved the family get-togethers!!