Buona Pasqua, Ancora

Cugina Chrissy's limoncello and chocolate raspberry-chocolate chip cakes - tangledpasta.net

Cugina Chrissy’s limoncello and chocolate raspberry-chocolate chip cakes – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Easter Sunday dawned auspiciously today:  The sky was gray and overcast.  As I was leaving for Church, rain began to puddle on the patio.  Since I had scheduled the 9:30 a.m. Mass on Easter Sunday in memory of my parents, Catherine “Kitty” and Frank, I realized I neglected to negotiate with the meteorologist for sunshine.  Yet halfway through Easter Mass, the sun shone, filtering through the Church’s stained glass windows.  It was a glorious omen for Easter.

My cugina [cousin] Marianne [yes, we Italians like to continuously recycle family names, which is why three-fourths of Italian women have the same first names, as do the men], invited me over for an Easter breakfast with her family.  Her father, my uncle and Godfather, is ninety-four years young, and, as our family patriarch, happily presided over my cousin’s light-as-air Belgian waffles [we Italians in the Heartland are multicultural in culinary spirit as well as ecumenical], crispy center-cut bacon, and her daughter’s delicious once-over-easy eggs.   Her husband Steve poured us shots of Amaretto di Saranno, which I poured into my coffee, thereby punching up my cup of Joe.

I was touched by my cugina’s Easter Breakfast invitation because sitting down with family reminded me of Easter Sunday breakfasts after Mass with my family.  When I was away at college, unable to get home for Easter, my mother made a point of sending me an Easter basket filled with malted milk balls, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, a large chocolate bunny, jelly beans and decorated eggs.  This year, I too filled my daughter’s furry, musical, ear-flapping rabbit Easter basket with treats and mailed it to her.   It is a worthy family tradition; it even received the Easter Bunny Seal of Approval.

My uncle’s family convened again late this afternoon for Easter dinner at his granddaughter Chrissy’s home.  My cousin follows in the family tradition of fine cooks.  She whipped up enough food to feed the Italian army:  Baked ham, potatoes, corn, green beans, and her mother prepared Italian sausage in a tomato-onion sauce for sandwiches replete with crusty Italian bread.  To top it off, dessert was limoncello cake and a chocolate-raspberry-chocolate chip cake confection.  Naturally, we imbibed vino bianco and vino rosso.  My contribution was an Italian Easter bread in the shape of a crucifix, and a bottle of hearty Chianti.

Tomorrow I am fasting. Alleluia!

Ciao for now.

 

Buona Pasqua!

Italian Easter bread - tangledpasta.net

Italian Easter bread – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi |  @Mary Anna Violi

Today I suddenly realized this is the first Easter Sunday I have not shared with my daughter.  For the past twenty-one years we have attended Easter Sunday Mass together, followed by a sumptuous dinner with family.  The good news is that this Easter, Anjelica is commemorating Easter with her uncle, aunt, and cousins.  My brother lives only 75 miles from the Big 12 college campus, while our own home clocks in four hours north.  75 miles to my brother’s sounded far more appealing, particularly since Easter is early this year, on March 31.

The other reason is that I lacked the wherewithal to go out-of-town a fifth weekend in a row.  Frankly, I am weary.  My darling daughter and my dear nephew will graduate with their undergraduate degrees in May.  In June, my sweet niece will marry.  Before my soon-to-be college graduate graduates, there is Mom’s Weekend at her sorority house in April.  These three milestones all are far south from this Italian American’s residence in the Heartland.  Ergo, I opted to relinquish travel over Easter weekend.

This does not equate with me sadly ingesting a frozen Lean Cuisine Easter dinner.  Far from it.  I will be joining my sprightly local uncle and lively cousins for an Italian Pasqua dinner.  After dining with my family, a close friend who happens to be a nun, and I will be celebrating Easter, too.  I am grateful for my family and friends, yet I yearn for my daughter to join in these Easter festivities.

Today I went to a local Italian bakery, purchased Easter bread, an Italian lamb cake, and wished I could transport these traditional delicacies to my daughter.  How she loves the roasted leg of lamb and potatoes that I make, the asparagus, salad, Easter bread and lamb cake!  To assuage my conscience, I have placed some of the lamb cake in the freezer, along with pink sugar-sprinkled bunny cutout cookies, and Easter bread.  I will take these to her on Mom’s Weekend, for the Italian mama in me cannot bear to have her denied some of her favorite Easter delights.  After all, liturgically speaking, Easter season continues through May 12 this year. J

Ciao for now.

Dreaming of Dayton, Part III

 

Fellini and Coco Chanel are dreaming of their two Persian cat cousins in Dayton - tangledpasta.net

Fellini and Coco Chanel are dreaming of their two Persian cat cousins in Dayton – tangledpasta.net

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @ Mary Anna Violi

I have two cousins in Dayton, Ohio whom I have known since they were babes in arms:  Ann Marie and Jimmy, though in their professional lives they now go by Ann and Jim.  They are both younger than I, but I adore them.  Ann is an accomplished, experienced social worker; Jim is a savvy, personable businessman.  No matter if several months or a year passes, the three of us always are able to pick up where we left off.  Our cousinship is seamless and strong.

Much of this strength I attribute to my mother, Catherine “Kitty”, to their mother, my Aunt Agnes, and to our Aunt Adelaide, the three sisters.  Those sisters were a close-knit trio, in spite of the geographical distances that separated them in their married lives.  Our three families visited over spring breaks, Easter, summer vacations, Christmas, and family milestone events such as baptisms, First Communions, anniversaries, and any other reason to gather and celebrate together.  Cousin bonds were forged during   childhood, nurtured throughout adolescence, and now into adulthood.   What is additionally gratifying is that we engage in the same family practices with our own children.  Our children know their second cousins and I must admit, it is most gratifying to observe this delightful next generation.

Dayton is a beautiful, tree-laden city with fine architecture, hilly residential areas, a winding river, universities and colleges, delectable eateries, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and excellent shopping venues. As a child, I loved Dayton and Kettering, where Aunt Agnes and my late Uncle Joe first lived.  With the wind in my sails from this most recent visit to Dayton, I am once again reminded of how dear my aunt’s family is to me.  How exquisite it is that my daughter feels likewise about her aunt and cousins.

Ciao for now.

 

Ash Wednesday Denial

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Stained glass angel church window - tangledpasta.net

Stained glass angel church window – tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday is the kick-off to the Lenten season in the Roman Catholic Church.  This year Ash Wednesday fell on February 13.  On Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, I tried to muster up enthusiasm for a New York strip steak, or at least a cheeseburger, preferably from Five Guys.  However, on Mardi Gras, meat did little to entice my taste buds.  Ergo, I feasted instead on roasted garbanzo beans, couscous, and broccoli.

At the 12:05 p.m. Mass on Ash Wednesday, I was the Reader for the two Epistles [one from the Prophet Joel; the other from Book 2 of the Corinthians, for those reading this blog with an inquiring mind].  As I finished reading from the Corinthians, suddenly, a Five Guys juicy cheeseburger with sautéed onions and mushrooms blazed across my mind.  I tried to focus on Monsignor’s sermon about Lent not being necessarily about forsaking candy for 40 days, but about doing good deeds, a’ la` random acts of kindness.

While the advice was sound, I envisioned that charbroiled cheeseburger burning brightly before me on the marble altar railing.  “Sacriligious!”  I silently chastised myself to no avail.  “Focus! Focus!” I mutely yelled to myself.

Fasting in-between meals on Ash Wednesday and on the Fridays during Lent has not been historically troublesome for me.  In fact, fasting, instead of indulging in my daily grazing in-between meals, should decrease my waistline [which it usually does not].

My Lenten albatross remains abstinence from meat throughout the remaining Fridays of Lent.  It is ironic because I rarely think about or crave meat; salmon and bay scallops, yes, pasta with seafood, yes, but meat in and of itself, no.  I fear each Lenten Friday I will fixate on either a cheeseburger or a strip steak, which I do not crave on any other day during Lent, except for Ash Wednesday.

Sigh.  It is going to be a long 40 day-road to Easter Sunday.

Ciao for now.