Recipe: ….more rambling – a little family background…………

|February 24, 2011
Author: Mama's Kitchen

I feel as if I am a very lucky person – why? Because in this life I was born into a large Italian family.

Hey – it wasn’t a bed of roses – that’s for sure! Not that my life was bad – but some of the relatives – if you know what I mean.

Let’s face it – every family has their fair share of idiots. And some of my Italian great uncles (for instance) were the biggest idiots (I’m being polite using this term) I ever met! Oh they were nice guys – don’t get me wrong – but the family “rules” and the expectations and demands – number one reason I would never marry an Italian!

My God was my family OLD FASHIONED! And they believed in the old ways and would not change.

I was brought up in a strict household – VERY strict. The house was scrubbed daily – no excuses. Bread was baked daily – or you didn’t have bread. No bread? You knew better than that – Italian men wanted their bread made everyday. They also wanted their plates fixed for them and served to them. The only time someone got their plates before the men in the family – was the children – they were always the first to be served. I give the men credit for that.

Actually – Italian men are spoiled rotten. And that I blame on their mommas. Their mothers wiped their hinies from day one and they continued to do it until they died! Their sons could do no wrong – their sons were their babies throughout eternity!

Daughters – they learned to slave for the men too.

Italian men want good food and plenty of it. They want their homes clean at all times. They want their clothes clean and ironed at all times. They want their kids kept clean and well-fed at all times. And they want their women barefoot and pregnant!

The men worked hard every day of their lives to provide for their families – yes they were good men. They were proud men – proud of their families. They went to church – even if it wasn’t Sunday or a Holy Day. They respected others. They have a good heart. And they all had a large garden and even some chickens, goats, etc. to tend to after working long hours at work. Their days were long.

But lighten up fellas!

No make-up – no nail polish – cripe! You were a PUTTANA (whore – excuse me) if you wore it.

Hair had to be pulled back off the face and tightly secured while cooking and eating! No hanging hair. No wonder all the women in our family had the long braid hanging down their backs – they would pin them up for special occasions, weddings, funerals, etc.

And you covered your body – you didn’t show cleavage, no spaghetti straps, even cap sleeves showed too much! Skirts and dresses had to “hide” everything and you talked and acted like a lady or got your head knocked against the wall.

That famous Italian backhand!

I remember dad coming home from work one day and I had a pale pink nail polish on my nails. Barely visible. Except to old hawk eyes!

Dad would walk in the door from work – following his nose all the way (home cooking smells sooooo good!) – and mom would be at the stove. I had the table set and was cutting the homemade bread into slices and placing it on a plate in front of dad’s plate. He would leave his shoes in the hall (till today we don’t wear shoes in the house – been like that for generations), hang his jacket on the door knob, place his keys on the hutch, take his glasses out of his pocket and put them next to the keys and retreat to the bathroom to wash his hands.

While dad was washing his hands, mom was filling his dish. I would put his shoes away, hang his jacket, place his keys where they belonged and put his glasses with the evening paper so he could retreat to his favorite chair and “digest” the news while digesting his dinner and watching the local news on the boob tube. Then I’d wash my hands (a must if you want to eat at our table!) and sit across from dad at the table.

Well this day, dad washed his hands, sat at the table and before his backside was settled in the chair he let out – “WHAT IS THAT –IT'S ON YOUR FINGERS – GET IT OFF NOW!” So off to my room to remove a practically colorless nail polish from my nails and then into the bathroom to wash my hands only to get hollered at again for “stinking out the house with the –it I used to remove it!”

After that – no nail polish at the table and Lord help me if I ever would have cooked with nail polish on my fingers! There would be no living with him!

You see – men like that will remember these things for the rest of YOUR life and remind you of it continuously. So if you don’t want to hear it 24/7 – don’t do it. And after they have passed – you still hear it – I swear it!

So I’d paint my toenails instead and hide my toes in my slippers or wear socks.

Make-up??? Need I even tell you what that was like???? Just use your imagination.

Kong (dad) was very strict and very overprotective. Plus being an only child – it made it worse for me.

Had to be home by 10 at night when I was 21! No date got past the front door if my dad didn’t like what he looked like. He would pride himself at looking at my date and turning to me and saying – you may as well change your clothes – you’re home for the evening.

And you never opened your mouth if he said that. Unless you wanted to die on the spot. Nor did you roll your eyes! OMG to roll your eyes at anytime!!!!!! You had to stay stone-faced – he knew what you were thinking anyway. And dad worked for the sheriff’s department – so of course he would run a check of his license, plates, family history, etc. Mom and gram would do the family tree if he was Italian – making sure he wasn’t related in any way, shape or form.

If dad didn’t like your looks – he’d just tell the guy to beat it and not come back or call again. And believe me – they listened when he spoke!

There was no pulling up and honking the horn for me to come out. You parked the car, shut off the engine and walked up the steps and rang the doorbell so dad could greet you.

Dad looked like Kong – they even called me the Daughter of Kong – and no one messed with him. And they respected him – as well as feared him.

The few that made it past the front door got to find out that my dad was really a nice guy and they liked him a lot.

Years pass – and I did get to wear nail polish and some light makeup – he sort of mellowed a bit as he grew older. And would you believe – I don’t wear nail polish any more. I did a few times – but having to take it off to cook anything at all – including making coffee or pouring a bowl of cereal – it just wasn’t worth it. Besides that – there are over 14 different poisons in nail polish and should never be worn when cooking.  And don't even THINK of those false nails – OMG – DISEASE/FUNGUS HEAVEN!

(Think I am turning into my parents?????? – I did a long, long time ago!)

And don’t even serve me anything you made if you are wearing acrylic nails – don’t even go there with me. You don’t want to hear me rattle about that!

When it comes to foods and eating – I won’t eat it if it wasn’t made in a clean kitchen, etc. I’m too fussy. I’ve walked out of restaurants and I even have friends I wouldn’t drink a glass of water at their homes! Trust me.

Cleanliness, food safety, proper food preparation and handling – it’s been drilled into my head since I was in the womb. I’ve been a programmed droid. Just like the many others in my family.

Will I change – no – too old to change – and as far as what I’ve learned – I feel I am very lucky to know it, practice it and live by it.

Now that I have rambled – I’ll hush till the next time –

To be continued…