Memories Never Forgotten
While shopping for dinner at the local grocery store, I wheeled my cart towards the wine aisle and started looking for a good after dinner wine. I picked up a bottle and started laughing to myself thinking, you know if gramps was still alive all I would have to do is go down in his cellar.
My grandparents were from Italy so having a cellar in the basement was not unheard of, for wine was a dinner staple in this Italian family. I remember as a little girl I couldn’t wait to go to my grandparent’s house, ever since the depression they always had a huge garden and every imaginable fruit tree surrounding the place. But my grandfather’s pride and joy was his tiny yet sufficient vineyard.
Immediately upon arriving at my grandparent’s house I would spot my grandfather in the vineyard checking over the grapes and vines, and while everyone else in the family went inside to greet grandma, I ran for gramps knowing he would allow me to stuff my face with grapes. As I ran for gramps I can vividly recall hearing my mother yell out, “Pa, don’t let her fill up on grapes! Last time it took me a week to get the purple off of her hands and clothes!” But I think he was paying to much attention to me running towards him to consider what she was saying.
“Grandpa!“ I would scream as he grabbed my face giving me a huge kiss. My grandfather was a man of few words for his primary language was Italian, so his sentences were usually very brief, but even at the age of 6 I knew he wanted to show me something when he said, “Come.” I knew exactly what that was too, for a few weeks earlier we planted a new grapevine together, “Looka” he said, while pointing at the newest member to his vineyard.
There it was a spindly vine sticking out of the ground with several large leaves and a small cluster of immature green grapes swinging from it’s branches. Instinctively I plucked one of the hard lime green balls, that resembled a grape, and threw it in my mouth while hearing my grandfather say, “No, no, no.” It didn’t take long for this 6 year old’s face to quench up and start looking for a place to spit, gramps snickered as he pulled a white handkerchief from his pocket placing it under my chin, “Spit” was all he said. At that time my older brother came out of the house yelling to come in and eat. Gramps took me by the hand and lead the way, knowing I much rather spend dinner time outside eating grapes.
Inside the aroma of freshly baked Vienna bread and pasta permeated the house. It was known throughout family and friends that grandma made the best homemade bread in town, not to mention her pasta. All would salivate like Pavlov’s dogs upon hearing what grandma made for dinner. I was only 6 but, even at that tender age, when it came to dinner grandma would solicit your help.
I shook my head thinking it seems like only yesterday that all these memories took place. Yes, after making me wash my hands grandma would pull a high stool over to the table and say, “Come, help grandma make pasta.” Grandma would always make preparing dinner into a game. “Let’s first make the volcano” she would say, while pouring a mound of white flour on the table, which my hands dove into immediately to create the hole. I would sit and watch as she added all the ingredients in the “volcano” waiting patiently to help kneed the dough. Now that I think about it, as a child I never asked my parents to buy play dough…I wonder why?
After kneading the dough we would let it set, which gave us ample time to prepare the sauce. Oh the sauce… now that was an all day affair. You would have to start early for that was something that had to simmer slowly for hours. Let’s just say by time you made the pasta, and let it cook, the sauce would have been ready to serve. But the taste, oh the taste, was well worth the wait.
Wow, what warm memories… I thought to myself, as I placed the wine bottle I was holding back onto the rack, I think I’ll make pasta tonight. As I was cashing out of the grocery store, a lady standing behind me looked over the array of different gourmet olive oils, wines, and other ingredients needed to make my pasta dinner and said, “Are you a gourmet chief?” I looked at her and laughed saying, “No, just a little girl that hung out with her grandparents.”