Recipe: Memories of lunches –

|February 24, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Being Italian, to me, is the best! I love Italian foods and I agree with many of the Italian ways. But there are some things that I wish I could or could have changed.

How about school lunches. You know – back in the day when you carried those little boxy metal lunchboxes with the little poem inside –

“Safety first is an important rule, at home, at play, and in your school……..” etc.

And the glass thermos bottle that kept your milk cold or your soup hot. You had room for a sandwich, cookies, a piece of fruit, etc.

That is, unless you were Italian.

While other children were “building strong bodies twelve ways” with Wonder Bread, Italian children were enjoying fresh homemade bread. Each slice usually being cut at least an inch thick and many times too big to fit in your lunch box! Just use a roll of waxed paper to wrap it and you’re all set.

Your classmates were eating peanut butter and jelly; some had American cheese on their Wonder Bread.

You had one or more of the following – salami, soppressata, cappicola, hot ham, provolone, scamorza, mozzarella, fontina, etc. Sometimes you had a broken chunk of bread (the size of the lunch box itself – if not bigger) and a big chunk of cheese as well as a half stick of pepperoni. That went well with your homemade macaroni in sauce in your thermos – leftover from dinner the night before. Sometimes a hearty Italian soup.

(Trust me – an Italian mother can FIT homemade macaroni and meatballs in a thermos!)

Of course, all this was complimented by the olives and pepperoncini you had as well.

An Italian mother just could not slice the bread the same width as what others called “normal bread” – but to an Italian – normal was homemade and sliced thick. We tasted our bread – we had a hearty bread that we had to chew and we savored it – it did not disintegrate in our mouth like Wonder Bread did.

Other children had chocolate chip cookies – Italian children had pizzelles, or pignoli, biscotti, zaletti, or cuccidati – or another home baked cookie. The Italian fried cookies were a real treat.

Milk was either brought from home or bought in the school cafeteria. Either way – you could dunk your biscotti in it. Italians are dunkers.

Your fruit could include a nice meaty tomato to enjoy – eaten just like an apple. Of course we had apples, oranges, etc. in our lunches – but most of the time – a good tomato was the first choice.

Candy? Italian candy (Jordan/confetti) almonds – that was our candy – sometimes Torrone (nougat/honey/almonds candy).

In our home, we broke bread most of the time (instead of cutting it with a knife). Broken bread, split in half made a dang good sandwich. It was also normal to dunk your bread in your soup or sauce to sop it up.

Bread was always broken and IF you were to ever use a knife on it – you had to hold the bread near your heart and you cut the loaf while holding it with the blade coming towards your heart – symbolizing the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the blood he shed for us.

And before you place the bread in the oven to be baked – you make the sign of the cross or you carve a cross in the dough before baking or before slicing after it is baked.

Our school lunch wasn’t much different than the lunches taken to work by my uncles – a loaf of Italian bread either sliced or “torn” in half lengthwise and filled with Italian meats and cheeses. Wrapped in waxed paper, tied with a string and taken to the plant for them to enjoy for lunch.  A hot lunch was placing your sandwich on the radiators in school or at work until lunchtime!

To us it was “normal” – what can I say?

To this day – my favorite lunch is a chunk of homemade bread with either a chunk of Italian cheese and/or pepperoni or a few slices of salami of some sort and Italian cheese and olives. When it’s tomato season – split the bread and stuff with sliced onions and tomato, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!

And remember to break the bread – it tastes so much better that way!

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