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 Growing Up in the Butcher ShopPasqua / Easter

Ciao Amici,      

      Easter week was a special time in the butcher shop. To some, it may be hard to understand how important Easter is for Italians. It may not be very big in the USA, but in Italy it is the second most important religious holiday after Christmas. From a strictly religious point of view, it is even more important: in fact Easter, the feast dedicated to the resurrection of Christ, is the celebration of the mystery that is at Easter for Italians has the same importance of Thanksgiving for Americans. Lent was coming to a close and carnivale [meat go away] would soon be Ritorna Carne [meat returns].  Grandmom and Grandpop realized Easter comes just one time a year and it was time to Fare fieno quando la luce del sole [make hay when the sun shines.] My customers say I work long hours, seven to seven, seven days a week. Easter week Grandmom would tell her customers they worked 8 days  a week. Easter Saturday was a time of reflection as family, friends and customers coming to the shop to pick up their order and wish one another a Buona Pasqua. The menu was made up of all the by products from the lamb the treasues only the butcher had. The “capisela” [roasted lamb head], the “sanguedore”[blood pudding]

“ sorfito” [stir fried liver with peppers] and  tucanade [lamb caseings  wraped around provolone and prosciutto]. Traditional Easter meals in Italy vary from region to region, but eggs and roasted lamb are common elements everywhere. Eggs represent life, fertility and renewal, all of which are essential symbols of Easter. Mom would make her bread with dyed eggs and eggs are found in the spezzatta soup made with dandelion greens and lamb pieces with bone. And of course the traditional Roasted Leg of Lamb, as a symbol of birth and the Sheppard, was our traditional main course. On Easter Sunday when I sit at the table to enjoy Easter dinner with family I can’t help to reflect on my Dad, Grandmom and Grandpop and the dinners of years past. Grandmom dished out the spezzata, Grandpop then Dad carving the lamb. I still see them around the table smiling at me with the love in their eyes. To all my readers Buona Pasqua / Happy Easter!

Pasqua dice che si può mettere la verità in una tomba, ma non rimanere lì."

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there." -- Clarence W. Hall

Con Cordiali Saluti,



Growing Up in the Butcher ShopSangwitch / Sandwich

Ciao Amici,      


  On our signage and business cards and our menus, we use the word sangwitch instead of sandwich. Tired of spell check we added it to our dictionary. The word “sangwitch” is a Rosetan slang word  for food put between bread that you eat with your hands. Back  in the day we would put any type of food between bread, eggplant cutlet,  beef pizzaoli, veal parmigana and of course  sausage & peppers; not only that but eggs, potatoes, macaroni, starch on starch no problem we just loved sangwitchs. Growing up in the butcher shop my grandparents would ask, “Josie, Vuoi un  Sangwitch?” Not, “ Joseph, would you like  a sandwich?” They’d ask, “Josie Vuoi qualche, salami, capicola, prosciutto, sopressatta, mozzerella or provolone?” They would never ask, “Joseph would you care for American cheese and bologna or peanut butter and jelly.” “Josie,Vuoi some roasted peppers on it and oil & vinegar on the Italian bread?”  Not, “Joseph would you care for some mayonaise on the Wonder Bread?” At a recent event  we heard one of the guest comment, “Sangwitch, they don’t know what they are talking about. It’s a sandwich an Italian sub on Italian bread. You see that is the problem, a sandwich is just food for the sake of eating put together. But a sangwitch is a work of art made with love and to enjoy.  I wish I would have been there when one of my staff came back to the shop and said someone had said “Look, dumb Italians, they don’t even know how to spell sandwich. If my Dad was still here he would have said, “Let me introduce them to a sandwich; the “Knuckle Sangwitch!”



Con Cordiali Saluti,




Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Politically Correct / Politicamente Corretto

Ciao Amici,      

      Have you ever noticed that back when our grandparents were young no one worried about being politically correct? Today's politically "correct" society has all sorts of fancy watered down names for sin. We call a lie a fib [or "I misspoke"], adultery an affair, stealing as in embezzelment, etc., etc. But the old timers back in my grandfather’s day did not beat around the bush. Sin is sin is sin. To call poison by any other name would be deadly. When you did wrong they would not sugarcoat it, you could see the disappointment in their face and that was a look you never wanted to see again. To call sin by any other name is also deadly. Not only when we did what we knew was wrong, we sinned, but also when we knew to do good, and did not do it, were told about.  When you are growing up in Roseto in the sixties you look up to the older sibling and us guys all wanted to be tough like our older brothers. I remember one time my friend came up with a  plan to shoplift at one of the little stores, he wanted to run it by his older brother who was a member of the “Rats.”  My friend was excited to tell his brother but when he finished his brother Frank just looked down and said “John you can’t do that.” “Why not” asked John,? “The plan is fool proof!”Because you see John, you will hurt Mom and Dad.  “Where” John asked, “Where will I hurt them?” “Right here” said Frank. “You will break this and pounded his chest on the heart.”  Needless to say the plan was never carried out. Frank made a good choice in explaining to his younger brother. There is an Old Italian saying; “Per sapere e non fare non è ancora per sapere.” [To know and not to do is not yet to know]

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."
Chiunque, poi, che conosce il bene che deve fare e non lo fa, peccati."
James 4:17

Con Cordiali Saluti,



Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Marsala

Ciao Amici,      

    One of our most popular items on our menu is Chicken Marsala.  Marsala not to be confused with Masala, which is a mixture of spices in South Asian cuisine. Marsala is a wine, dry or sweet, produced in the region surrounding the Italian city of Marsala in Sicily. Marsala is a fortified wine meaning alcohol is added to it like Port and Sherry. The addition of alcohol was to be sure it would last on long ocean voyages, but now it is made that way because customers had gotten use of the taste.  There were always bottles of Marsala in the walk-in refrigerator at the butcher shop. I would watch Grandpop make Veal Marsala. He would start with the finest veal, sliced thin then pounded with the side of the meat cleaver. He learned the recipe from when he lived in the Bronx above an Italian restaurant. He would flour the veal, pan fry it in olive oil then add mushrooms and onions. “Josie e vai a prendere il vino Marsala” [Joe go get the Marsala wine], Grandpop would call out. Then as the pan got hotter and hotter he would say “Guarda ora” [watch out now]. I would watch like an audience watching a magician, and then he would pour in the marsala and tip the pan slightly to ignite it. As the flames grew he would look over at me with a Grande sorriso [big smile]. I would applaud and yell, “Bravo!” Then he would bow his head and we would both laugh. Grandmom on the other hand would use Marsala in her rich Italian desserts such as zabaglione [a rich custard like pudding] and Pane di spanga [a sponge like cake layered with filling made with a Marsala custard.] Now when I am making Chicken Marsala at the shop and Tatiana is here I say watch out before I ignite the Marsala and across the table she yells, “Fire! Fire! Fire!  When I pour the chicken stock in the pan and the flame goes out she’ll look at me then we both laugh;  a tradition continues……

Con Cordiali Saluti,


Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: St. Joseph / San Giuseppe

Ciao Amici,

After St. Patrick's Day has come and gone, you'll have to wait another year for corned beef and cabbage, and green beer. But while the Irish saint's day has passed, March 19th marks another saint's day that is celebrated with food and drink. Two days after St. Patrick’s we celebrate St. Joseph’s Feast Day and it is customary to wear all red on this day, the same way green in worn on St. Patrick’s Day. It is also Father's Day in Italy. The holiday's roots date back to the middle ages, when Sicily underwent a major drought that threatened a massive famine. The towns’ people prayed to their patron saint to bring them relief in the form of rain. In exchange, they promised to honor St. Joseph with a proper banquet. Sure enough, he answered their prayers. In return, they feasted on local foods such as fava beans, which thrived after the rain, as well as many sweets. The celebration begins with a religious representation. Selected locals portray an elderly man, a lovely young woman, and a little child. The three are seated at the head table and remain there during the early part of the festivity. Others accompanying this "Holy Family" are twelve men or boys, representing the Apostles and other children, attired as angels. The village priest blesses the food, and then the "Holy Family" is served first by the host and hostess. Upon a typical St. Joseph's Day the altar usually has three tiers, to represent the trinity. The other tiers might hold, in addition to the food: flowers (especially lilies), candles, figurines and symbolic breads and pastries shaped like a monstrance, chalices, fishes, doves, baskets, St. Joseph’s staff, lilies, the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, carpentry tools, etc.; 12 fishes symbolizing the 12 Apostles; wine symbolizing the miracle at Cana; pineapple symbolizing hospitality; lemons for “luck”; bread and wine (symbolizing the Last Supper); and pictures of the dead. There will also be a basket in which the faithful place prayer petitions and Zeppole or Sfinge (St. Joseph also happens to be the patron saint of pastry chefs.) They are dough fritters covered in sugar — are also traditionally eaten on this day. Depending on where they are consumed, they can be simple fried doughnut holes, custard or cannoli filled or the equivalent of cream puffs made from choux pastry, similar to the French profiterole. Foods like pasta con sarde (Sardines) are traditionally served with a sprinkling containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. Because the feast occurs during Lent, traditionally no meat was allowed on the celebration table.

Con Cordiali Saluti,


Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:     Mangia  /   Eat       
Ciao Amici,      
     Mangia! Mangia!  (Eat! Eat!) Grandmom would call out as our friends would wait  as she would bring her special treats to the table. One of the words with mangia I would here in the shop was  he is a Mangia & Beve , ( Eater  and Drinker ). Other Italian Proverbs Grandpop would tell us at the dinner table ,That could be  a mantra for the Italian Hospitaliy Business sayings like Chi mangia e non invita, possa strozzarsi con ogni mollica. - He who eats alone and invites no one, will choke with every crumb. Chi mangia solo crepa solo. - He who eats alone dies alone. Ciò che si mangia con gusto non fa mai male. - What you eat with pleasure will never make you sick. Mangiare senza bere è come il tuono senza pioggia. - Eating without drinking is like thunder without the rain. Mangia quello che piace a te, vesti come piace agli altri. - Eat what you like, but wear what others like. Non si vive per mangiare ma si mangia per vivere. - One doesn't live to eat, but eats to live. Whenever we would go out on a day trip Dad would figure where would  we mangiare fuori: to dine out . Our friends from Pen Argyl who were from  the Veneto and Lombardia of Italy were called Mangiapolenta: Polenta eater  All my dad’s Calabrese friends who would eat the Hot peppers would be called il mangiafuoco fire-eater. When Dad’s Neapolitan friends would be in town Dad would in jest call them Mangiamaccheroni: Macaroni-eater.  As St Patrick approaches The Irish are called Mangiapatate: Potato eaters . When my Dad and his friends would get together for one of there famous Gourmet Dinners it should have been called  Il Mangiatutto: Big Eater’s Club

Mangia che ti passa (Eat and it will be over, you’ll feel better)

 Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:        Italian Love Phrases               


Ciao Amici,      

   Growing up in the butchershop I was fortunate to be able to listen to my grandparents and parents speak Italian. There is a very good reason why Italian is called a 'Romance' language.  If you've ever listened to it or tried to learn to speak Italian you'll know it's the most romantic language in the world. The words, the sounds, tone and pitch  all come together in a beautiful melody. Grand Pop & Grand mom listened to Enrico Caruso , Mom & Dad, Luciano Pavarotti and Joelene & I Andrea Bocelli .As an example would you prefer to have squid or calamari for dinner even though it is the same product calamari just sounds better. Here are some of Italian Love phrases in Italian  , English  and how to pronounce . Surprise your partner with an Italian Love phase you won’t regret it. Some words you  hear in songs often is Amore (Love ) (Ah-more-ay) like when the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie that’s amore .As a young one when I would meet a new relative I would here Baciami ! (Kiss me ) (Ba-ch-yamee)  . When I would sit on the bench and watch the teen agers go by I would hear words like Ciao bella (Hello Gorgeous)to a women (chow-bell-a) or Sei piu`bella di un angelo ( you are more beautiful then an angel)  (say-ee-pee-oo bell-a dee oon anjel).   As my grandfather’s friends would visit and the homemade wine poured we would here the toast Cent’anni (A hundred years  of Happiness) (Chen-tanny). As I would hear grand pop call grandmom he always said her name a little different  instead of Theodora he would say Tiadoro when I asked he said that Tiadoro (Tee a-door-oh)  means I adore you why do you think she is smiling all the time  she is amore mio (ah-more-ay mee oh  ) my love.  And for amore mio Joelene Il mio nuncio vero amore (You are the love of my life.)


 Con Cordiali Saluti,


Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:        Italian Cuisine “Ciccioli”                                 
Ciao Amici,      
     When Italians immigrated into the Slate Belt they came from different areas of Italy.
  Although Italians are known throughout the world for pizza, pasta, and tomato sauce, the national diet of Italy has traditionally differed greatly by region. Prior to the blending of cooking practices among different regions, it was possible to distinguish Italian cooking simply by the type of cooking fat used. Butter was used in the north, pork fat in the center of the country, and olive oil in the south. Staple dishes in the north were rice and polenta, and pasta was most popular throughout the south. During the last decades of the twentieth century (1980s and 1990s), however, pasta and pizza (another traditional southern food) became popular in the north of Italy. Pasta is more likely to be served with a white cheese sauce in the north and a tomato-based sauce in the south.
 Once in the United States especially during WW2 when olive oil from Italy was not available, my dad told me that Grandpop would get olive oil from Spain. Being butchers
my grandparents made and sold lard. My dad told me that the lard they made was so good that they would have to butcher a pig just to make the lard. One of the by products of making the lard is the “ciccioli” or cracklins which is used to make the Crackin Bread or  Pizza con Ciccioli. As Grandmom prepared to make it all the ingredients were  “mettere in posizione” (put in place)  the ingredients were ready and measured but when it came  to  actually making the bread  it was her cooking skill and experience with the method,  to know when the ingredients  are added but only “Quando Basta” (when there is enough.) The temperature and humidity of the house determine the rising and kneading of the bread. Like many of my readers who miss their departed family I have to say I wish she was here to show me.  I do not recall her way but this week I am going to start making it again so that I can enjoy it again and remember Grandmom again, which is always a good thing to do.

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  “Where To Go?” /  “Dove andare?”

Ciao Amici,  

        There where many Italian and American phrases used about where to go back in the day while I was growing up in the butcher shop.When my  Dad needed a specilty food item for a recipe he would say we have to go to fifth and gabit to get it in other words a place so far you would have to scratch or substitue the ingrediant to complte the recipe. Another American phrase used to mean any extremely distant and inaccessible location is “Timbuktu.” Like in the sentence Angelo use to come to dinner often until he moved to tim buk tu.  The city of Timbuktu is an actual city in the land locked West African nation of Mali, the city is known for its extreme inaccessibility. An Italian /American phrase I heard often growing up was “Va Fa Napoli.” It literally means “Go to Naples!” One theory says this was said from one Sicilian American in New York to another as an insult. As if going up north to Naples was such a bad thing. Another guess is that Napoli, you have to remember that the Spaniards, stayed in the southern part of Italy for 400 years, the king of Spain had his headquarter in Napoli, the Italians are not very fond of invaders, that's when one of the phrase “Va Fa Napoli” came about. Another premise is that it is a polite way to tell some one to go someplace opposite of heaven.  An additional saying I would hear was Va fa un uovo literary means go lay an egg and the meaning is to do something bad or poorly; to perform poorly on stage. Lastly when I would become frustrated and Grandmom would see I was losing my temper she would tell me to go to the monastery and say “Pazienza detto il monaco” [Patience said the monk], which I need to use more often. Now a day if I become frustrated at times in stead of telling people where to go I tell them to have a nice day!

Grazie, Joe

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Parmigana

Ciao Amici,
Two of our popular dishes we offer on J. DeFranco and Daughters catering menu are chicken & eggplant parmigana. There are many by different theories of the origins. Doing some research I went on Cillford to get some facts. The most obvious is that the name of the dish derives from Parmigiano cheese, the predominate cheese used in the dish. Many food writers have voiced suspicion of this explanation because parmigiano is not native to Naples or other regions of southern Italy where eggplant Parmesan is found. They argue that, in fact, the dish originates in Parma in northern Italy, because either Parmesan refers to the city of Parma (which it does) or because the Parmesan cheese is from Parma (which it is). I have never been persuaded by this line of thinking because from at least the fourteenth century parmigiano was a widely traded cheese and found throughout Italy. Furthermore, the eggplant made its first appearance in Italy in Sicily and the southern regions, not in the north and it’s likely that a dish for eggplant would be invented in the south. Second, the dish is famous in the Campania region in general, Naples in particular, as well as in Sicily and Calabria and not in Parma. Another suggestion concerning the origin of the dish is offered by the Sicilian food authority Pino Correnti who argues that the word parmigiano actually comes from damigiana, a sleeve made of wicker where you put a wine bottle, or in this case, the hot casserole. Another explanation to the origin of the name of this dish is reported by cookbook authors Mary Taylor Simeti, Vincent Schiavelli, and several others. They suggest that the name has nothing to do with parmigiano cheese or Parma the city, but derives from the Sicilian palmigiana not parmigiana, meaning shutters, the louvered panes of shutters or palm-thatched roofs that the layered eggplant slices are meant to resemble. Variations made with breaded meat cutlets, such as veal and chicken, have been popularized in other countries, usually in areas of Italian immigration. In the United States and Canada, veal parmigiana or chicken parmigiana is often served as an entree, and sometimes is served as a submarine sandwich. It is also popular with a side of or on top of pasta. Diced onions or green bell peppers, sauteed or raw, are sometimes added. A similar veal dish is known in Italian as Cotolette alla Bolognese, however, traditional Italian recipes exclude tomato sauce from the dish. Costelette Parmigiana is another related veal dish, however, in Italy it is generally served without sauce or cheese. In Argentina and in other neighboring South American countries, veal or chicken parmigiana is topped with ham and served with French fries. It is known as Milanese a la Napolitano. If the dish is topped with a fried egg, then it is known as a súper milanesa or suprema napolitana. The origin of the dish was the Napoli restaurant in Buenos Aires during the 1940s.
I like finding out the history of Parmigiana dishes but I’d rather eat them.


Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  Little Remains the Same / Poco rimane lo stesso                                                                                       

Ciao Amici,     

 From time to time I enjoy reading The Roseto Story by John G.Bruhn and Stewart Wolf. The following is taken from the book. In order to access the degree of cohesiveness in families they incorporated a family solidarity index. This demonstrates the highly cohesive nature of the community of Roseto in 1964. Now as I drive down Garibaldi little remains the same; there is nobody left.

  1. Subject is living with spouse     74%
  2. Subject is of the same ethnicity as spouse     74%
  3. Subject is of the same religion as spouse    77%
  4. Subject has lived in Roseto all of life      55%
  5. Spouse has lived in Roseto all of Life     42%
  6. Children living with parents                        69%
  7. Subject and Spouse spend time with others   19%
  8. All Children live at home                      62%
  9. Children are married to Italians    58%
  10. Subject turns to family with problems          70%
  11. All siblings live in Roseto 17%
  12. Subjects attend family reunions 34%

 America can learn from our little town that at that time our town’s social solidarity kinship and emotional security was a way to share our lives with one another to form a warmhearted community that supported one another .

 È facile per dimezzare il pomodoro dove c'è l'amore.

It's easy to halve the tomato where there's love.




Growing up in the Butcher:  New Year’s Eve Spaghetti at Midnight / Spaghetti della Vigilia Degli Anni Nuovo a Mezzanotte

Ciao Amici,

     As each year comes to an end, I am reminded of the time I asked Grandmom what she and Grandpop did for New Year’s Eve back in the day. She said Roseto was famous for their “Spaghetti Tradition at Midnight.”  Ladies and Gentlemen would all go to their social club in the early evening on New Year’s Eve. They would play cards, drink and have their antipasto. Everyone took pleasure in the olives, roasted peppers, all the good homemade Capicola, Prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, aged casa cavola cheese and of course, as always, good bread along with the home made wine.

      Around 10 pm the ladies would leave and go home to make their homemade spaghetti for the rest of the evening’s festivity. The men remained at the club to warm the Sunday gravy [gravy because the red sauce contained meatballs, sausage, pork ribs, beef braciole]. Then they got the large pots of boiling water ready for the ladies who would return around 11:30 pm with their homemade Spaghetti. Their expression was, “throw the spaghetti” which meant to put it in the boiling water. This was done at four minutes before midnight because homemade pasta does not take long to cook.

      The count down began; 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 SPAGHETTI! The spaghetti was drained at the stroke of midnight and everyone would start their New Year with a bowl of spaghetti. This tradition was supposed to bring them luck in the New Year. You are always lucky when you can have homemade spaghetti!

 We wish all our readers a “Buon Capo Anno” [“Happy New Year”]. Thank you for all your wonderful comments on my memoirs, when I was Growing Up in the Butcher Shop.

Maggio tutte Sue tribolazioni scorso tanto lungo quanto le decisioni di Sue Anno Nuovo.


May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's Resolutions.

~Joey Adams

Cordiali saluti,



Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:   Remember When  /  Ricordate Quando                                             

Ciao Amici,

Ricordate quando   All around Roseto you heard Auguri di Buon Natale

Ricordate quando   You watched The Pope say Mass at the Vatican

Ricordate quando   Christmas was about Jesus not expensive gifts

Ricordate quando   There was an Orange in your Christmas stocking

Ricordate quando   The aroma of Baccalla took over the house

Ricordate quando  Someone in the family had to learn Malocchio on Christmas eve

Ricordate quando  You did not need mistletoe , every one kissed each other

Ricordate quando  One of your relatives  came to the house as Santa Nicole

Ricordate quando  You got a package from Roseto Valfortore with Torrone in it

Ricordate quando  On the eve the whole town was filled with the aroma of garlic

Ricordate quando  There was Peace on Earth and Good will towards man

From our family to yours, “Merry Christmas”

Dalla nostra famiglia per il vostro, “Buon Natale”



Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:   Our Town and People/La nostra citte ed esso sono gente      

Ciao Amici,

      Everyone has their childhood memories of Christmas. I was very fortunate growing up in our town of Roseto when I did. I recall how mostly every door in the town was unlocked and the paths behind everyone’s home were all free to walk through.  No matter what the weather was, we played outside. We even shoveled snow so we could play basketball. Staying inside after school meant that you were sick. While we played outside, the townspeople would be caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays in Roseto. They would va Spezza [go shopping.] Everyone knew each other. Call it a clan, tribe, network or family; whatever you call it, whoever you are, this is what it is if you were Roseto.
     “Josie, Grandmom called, “Venga Qui. Porti questo ordine a Jennie.” [“Come here. Bring this order to Jennie.] Running outside I could see the red and green lights with the large white star hung across Garibaldi Avenue. On my way to deliver for Grandmom  and as I approached Leonard Castellucci, the shoemaker’s shop, I could see the different colored lighst coming from outside  into his beautiful  presepi [nativity scene.] The arrival of the chestnuts, along with the baccala, calamari, anchovies and the scent of oranges and pine immediately sends me back to those fond memories of Christmas.

Famiglia non tratta del cui sangue che ha. Tratta di che ama.      
Family isn't about whose blood you have. It's about who you care about.

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  I'm Dreaming of an Italian Christmas


I'm dreaming of an Italian Christmas Eve Dinner
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the Baccalla glistens  and children listen
To hear it frying  as it snows

I'm dreaming of an Italian Christmas Eve Dinner
With every Smelt I fry
May your table have lemons to juice be filling and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

I'm dreaming of a Italian Christmas Eve Dinner

Just like the ones I used to know

When Grand mom stuffed the calamari
and cooked in the oven slow

I'm dreaming of a an Italian Christmas Eve Dinner
With every Orange I peel for our anchovy salad
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white




Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  Sardinia's Secret To Longevity


Ciao Amici,     

     Since Doctor Wolf’s report about Roseto I have been interested in Stories like this one written by  Vivian Tsai: In the Mediterranean Sea, there is an island paradise rumored to have a different kind of "air" that grant longevity into the people who live there - Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy, where scientists have been trying for years to discover the secrets of why these men and women live such long lives. With a population of 1.6 million, Sardinia has confirmed to have the world's highest documented percentage of people who have passed the century threshold, according to the Guardian newspaper of the UK. While scientists still can't determine whether the secret behind Sardinians' long lives is diet, lifestyle, genetics or the combination of thereof, the island's Melis family was recognized by the Guinness World Records on Tuesday for having the world's oldest combined age in a family. Nine elderly siblings of the family are now (in the aggregate) 818 years old, with the oldest, Consolata, reaching 105 on Wednesday and the youngest sibling, Mafalda -- affectionately nicknamed by her older brothers and sisters as "The Little One" -- at the relatively spry age of 78.The siblings live in a close-knit family which comprises 150 children, grandchildren and great-grand-children. “Genes and lifestyle are paramount, but luck plays a big part - avoiding accidents and falls, and so on -- so to have such a large number of living siblings with an average age of more than 90 years is incredibly rare." said the Guinness World Records editor- in-chief, Craig Glenday. To Alfonso Melis, one of the celebrated siblings, however, the secret to long life is not exactly that complicated. When asked the question, he simply said: "We eat genuine food, meaning lots of minestrone and little meat and we are always working.” At the age of 89, he can be found either working at a café he runs or working in his own garden, growing beans, eggplant, peppers and potatoes. His older sister, Claudia, who still attends church every morning at the age of 99, gave an almost identical response: "You just keep working and you eat minestrone, beans and potatoes.” Living in a village of Perdasdefogu in a mountainous region of Sardinia, the Melis family's health came as pleasant news to the Sardinian people, though it is not at all a surprise. At least 371 of Sardinia's current population have reached the 100 years mark -- the corresponding ratio is astonishingly 20 times greater than that found in the United States. The secret to Sardinians' long life is the subject of study of a project called AKeA - an acronym for "A kent' annos," a traditional toast in the Sardinian culture that means "May you live to be 100 years." The leading researcher, Luca Deiana from the University of Sassari in northwest Sardinia, found that genetics play a key role, observing that it is generally in the central-eastern mountainous region that longevity is most common. The ruggedness of the geography has repelled invaders for centuries, and there has been little intermarriage with outsiders since then, thereby preserving some of the beneficial genetic traits. For example, Deiana, along with his team of 25 Italian doctors and biologists, identified a gene in the Y chromosome that can greatly reduce heart attack and stroke in men. This gene, passed down from fathers to sons, can explain the ratio of male-female centenarians in the region, which is about 1-1, while the ratio is generally 1-4 all around the world. Diet is also considered to be crucial -- as the Sardinian diet is rich in healthy nutrients from fresh locally grown vegetables, prepared simply with olive oil and served with lemon, garlic and other spices. Sardinians' diet is particularly rich in proteins derived from milk and cheese, while low on sugary food and meat. Many of them eat meat only once or twice a week. The dishes are usually a small piece of lamb, lean pork, oily fish or shellfish accompanied by a lot of vegetables. A glass of wine is considered indispensable in Sardinian culture, along with a chunk of sheep's cheese or goat's ricotta. The amiable climate of the Mediterranean also helps in keeping these old men and women in a good mood. A villager from the town of Orroli believes that it is truly something "in the air" that keeps the people alive for so long, as reported by TIME magazine. Last but not least, beyond the genetics, food, weather and lifestyle, Deiana also believes that the Sardinian culture is also a factor of the people's longevity. In Sardinia, elders are continued to be held in high regard and included in family life, and most of them are encouraged by the village to be actively involved as an important social presence. Mario Antonio Attene, the mayor of Silanus, a town of 2,400 with around ten centenarians, made a statement in an online interview saying that the lives of Sardinian old men and women "have great meaning because they do not get locked in a retirement home. They are happy to be alive and convinced it's worth it even though they may be old and ill because they have the affection of children, loved ones and grandchildren.” However, not even Sardinia is immune to the worrying trends of the modern world, including the omnipresent force of globalization. As long ago as 2005, National Geographic magazine reported that the presence motor vehicle on the island has greatly reduced the healthy exercise of walking. Obesity, which was unknown in Sardinia prior to 1940, now affects about one-tenth of the population.” Children want potato chips and pizzas. That's what they see on TV," said a local named Tonino. "Bread and pecorino [a hard Italian cheese] are old-fashioned."




Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  Tailoring / Su Misura


 Ciao Amici,

         I recently needed a pair of pants that had torn at the hem to be repaired.  This reminded me of how life has changed from back when I was young. With the surfacing of all the blouse mills it seemed back then everyone sewed, it was just a matter of who would fix your clothing. Similar to the end of the shoemaker, when the emergence of the athletic shoe and other inexpensive shoes came into being, it came to be that throwing away the shoes and buying a new pair was more economical it only was worth repairing if the shoe was a quality one. When I would see my Grandpop and Dad dress up for a special event they were something to behold, the cufflinks, perfectly made ties and tailored suits, polished shoes, and so on. It was way before the t shirt and jean generation. Clothing also became a throw away generation instead of a fix and repair society. There were many tailors in my family, before the butcher shop my grandfather Philip worked for Brooks Bros. in New York, his brother- in- law Joe Falcone was tailor in Philadelphia, my uncle Giacomo was a tailor in Washington D.C. and he was the tailor of Sonny Jorgensen, quarterback of the Redskins. The tailors back in the day that I remember were Lorenzo Rosato, Franklin Rosato [Rosato’s Cleaners] and Nick Falcone. My Mom’s cousin Phil Falcone was a tailor also and I could consider him a master tailor. I remember once when I was in high school he and his wife Lucy came for a visit.  Phil spoke, “Josy, venire qui e permettetemi di misura.” [“Joe, come here and let me measure you.”] “Why?” I asked. “Appena mi voglio fare qualcosa per voi,” he replied. [“Just let me, I want to do something for you.”] The next day he arrived with a 3 piece tailor made suit. It fit like a glove with the attention to detail only our Italian tailor could do. It was too nice to wear to school so I only wore it on special occasions. Besides how much he is missed I wish he was still here to alter the suit now, my dimensions have changed quite a bit from when I was in high school; damn gravity.

Che cosa un bell'uomo ha il vostro sarto fatto voi!

What a fine man Hath your tailor made you!

~Philip Massinger


Con Cordiali Saluti, Joe

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Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Mushrooms / I Funghi

Ciao Amici,
As I see the leaves changing across the road, I am reminded of the fall activities I had with my grandfather. Besides making wine one of the other goings on was to gather mushrooms in the forest of North Bangor. As we walked together into the woods the bright sun, the sound of leaves rustling under our feet and the beauty of the colorful leaves will always be special to me. As we went through the fields and forests, I felt the calm of nature with the birds and creatures of the woods and the watchful eye of my grandfather. There was no test that Grandpop did to determine edible versus poisonous mushrooms. He ignored any advice such as “a poisonous mushroom will tarnish a silver spoon,” “if it bruises blue, it’s poisonous,” and so on. These are folk myths; they are completely untrue. Even seeing evidence of animals eating them won’t work here. The only way to tell if a mushroom is edible is by positive identification. Grandpop knew which was good and which ones where not. Returning home with the bounty of autumn’s harvest, Grandmoms eyes would light up with ideas of ways to cook. She always kepted the cooking as simple as possible so that the true taste would not be compromised.  When Dad would return home from a small game hunting trip with pheasant, Grand mom would meticulously dress the bird. Then I would watch her heat the olive oil and add garlic, brown the pheasant add the onions, peppers and mushrooms deglazing the pan with red wine and then the tomato sauce. And don’t forget the secret ingredient Josie, Grandmom would say “And that’s amore!” As it simmered on the stove the house would fill with the aroma of Cacciatore one of the Rosetan foods of autumn. Then as we sat around the table the wine was poured, the bread was cut and the love of family surrounded us all.

“All mushrooms are edible - once”

“Tutti i funghi sono commestibili - una volta"

Con Cordiali Saluti, Joe

rowing Up in the Butcher Shop:
  Olives /Oliva

Ciao Amici,
Growing up in the Butcher Shop as a youngster one of the tasks Grandmom & Grand- pop would let me do was to crack olives. They would put me on a stool near them as they worked and give me a small meat pounder. It sounds like such a simple task, but it did take a light hand because we did not want to split the olive wide open. If you hit them too hard it mashes the olive too much, if you hit it at the wrong pace it goes flying off the table and not hard enough you don’t accomplish any thing. Why go through the trouble you may ask? Cracked olives that have been gently bruised before curing absorb the curing materials faster. As a result, they are ready to eat much more quickly, but their flesh is still fully flavored. Back in Roseto Valfortore, Italy my grandparents learned the traditional olive curing techniques which included cracking, it involves a two part process, first curing the olives and then transferring them to a storage medium.  When I was finished they would have me crush some garlic. Grand mom was amazing making the components for the olive salad; she chopped celery (with the leaves), carrots, garlic, vinegar peppers, pepperonchini oregano, and olive oil. She would let me stir it with the big wooden spoon. Eventually the amount of olives in the 5gallon crock got to big for me, Josie, “Spostare, sto andando a utilizzare gli strumenti la mia mamma e il mio papà mi ha dato”. Di che cosa si tratta ? Vorrei chiedere a. Le mie mani grand mom avrebbe risposto (Joe, Move I am going to use the tools my mom and dad gave me.” “What is that?” I would ask. “My hands” Grandmom would answer.”) The olives had no choice but to be mixed. Then when the special occasion Antipasto would come to the table, there would be a bowl of olive salad. Grandmom would announce “Josie mi ha aiutato a rendere l'insalata di oliva” (“Joe helped me make the olive salad.”) As she looked over at me with her warm smile I could feel the love only an Italian grandmother could give or now that I think of it any grandmother that loved their grandchildren could give.
"I tuoi figli come la oliva-rami intorno alla tua mensa".
“Thy children like the olive-branches round about thy table.”
 Bible quotes

Con Cordiali Saluti, Joe

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: All Saints /All Souls Day- Ognissanti / i Morti
Ciao Amici,
Growing up in the Butcher Shop the beginning of November started with All Saints day November 1st and all souls day November 2nd. The tradition goes back to early Christianity, when the fathers of the church, seeing that among the country folk some pagan feasts were still very popular, tried to introduce these feasts into the liturgy. In this way All Saints Day, which honored the early Christian martyrs, was established on the 1st of November to merge with the ancient Druid rituals of October 31st, which was the Eve of New Year's Day in the Celtic calendar, a rite of passage, that is why the return of Dead Ones to the earth. The day of the Dead Ones means a closer dialogue with them, forgetting about everyday problems and looking to them for comfort and strength. Grand mom would tell us when she was young growing up in Roseto Valfortore, Italy it was customary to leave one more seat at the table for the dead that they would return to visit. Also, it was common for the whole family, after dinner, to visit the cemetery and leave the house empty so that the dead could come undisturbed. The return to the houses was then announced by the ringing of bells, to let the visitors leave unseen. Also on the evening before November 2, it still customary to lay the table for dinner, with bread, wine and water, especially for the dead, who are believed to come back and visit relatives, and stay at least until Christmas or Epiphany. In the cities of Italy these traditions have almost disappeared, but in the countryside, and especially in southern Italy, they are still alive. For Italians whenever there is a holiday there is always special food involved and such is the case for I Morti (all souls day). There is the "mani" (hand), a bread shaped like a single arm in a ring that joins two hands, and the "pane dei morti" (bread of the dead), a loaf looking like a body part which was originally supposed to be an offer of food to the souls of dead relatives. The "oss de mord" (bones of the dead) are made in long shapes with dough and almond, baked, with a faint taste of cinnamon. Different regions in Italy have different traditions. In Trentino Alto Adige: bells ring to call the dead to their homes. The table is set for them and the fireplace is kept going for the whole night. Piemonte and Val d'Aosta: just like in Trentino Alto Adige, the table is often left set for the dead to feast. Liguria: people cook broad beans and chestnuts and, in the past, it was traditional for grandparents to tell scary stories to their grandchildren. Umbria: cakes known as Stinchetti dei Morti (the shins of the dead) are popular in this region and they are served to ease the sadness of this day. Abruzzo: lamps are left lit and the table, while children go to bed with a bag of broad beans and candies, to symbolize the link between past and present generations. In ancient times, the Romans used to eat next to the grave of their relatives in order to keep them company. Sicily: people let kids believe that, if they pray and they are good, they will then receive gifts from the dead. Whether these beliefs are true or not the day of I morti is meant to remember and honor the dearly departed and honor loved ones who have passed

Con Cordiali Saluti, Joe

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: I am Italian /American By Angelo Bianchi Esq.

I am an Italian American. My roots are deep in ancient soil, drenched by the Mediterranean sun and watered by pure streams from snow-capped mountains. I am enriched by thousands of years of culture. My hands are those of the mason, the artist, the man of soil. My thoughts have been recorded in the annals of Rome, the poetry of Virgil, the creations of Dante, and the philosophy of Benedetto Croce.

I am an Italian American, and from my ancient world I first spanned the seas to the New World - I am Christoforo Columbo. I am Giovanni Caboto, known in American history as John Cabot, discoverer of the mainland of North America. I am Amerigo Vespucci, who gave my name to the new world, America. I am Enrico Tonti, first to sail on the Great Lakes in 1679, founder of the territory that became the State of Illinois, colonizer of Louisiana and Arkansas. I am Filippo Mazzei, friend of Thomas Jefferson, and my thesis on the equality of man was written into the bill of rights. I am William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence and, yes, an Italian American.

I am an Italian American. I am Colonel Francesco Virgo – I financed the Northwest expedition of George Rogers Clark and accompanied him through the lands that would become Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. I am Alessandro Malaspina – I mapped the Pacific from Mexico to Alaska and to the Philippines. I am Giacomo Beltrami, the discoverer of the Mississippi River in 1823. I am Constantino Brumidi. They called me the Michelangelo of America – I created the dome of the United States capitol. I am A. P. Gianni – in 1904, in San Francisco, I founded the Bank of Italy, now known as the Bank of America, the largest financial institution in the world. I am Enrico Fermi, father of nuclear science in America. I am John Basilone of New Jersey, the first enlisted man to win the Medal of Honor in World War II.

I am an Italian American. I am the million strong who served in America's armies and the tens of thousands whose names are enshrined in military cemeteries from Guadalcanal to the Rhine. I am the steel maker in Pittsburgh, the grower in the Imperial Valley of California, the textile designer in Manhattan, the movie maker in Hollywood, the home maker and the breadwinner in 10,000 communities.

I am an American without stint of reservation, loving this land as only one who understands history, its agonies and its triumphs; and I can love and serve as fully as any other American. I will stand in support of this nation's freedom and promise against all foes. My heritage has dedicated me to this nation. I am proud of my FULL heritage and I shall remain worthy of it.

 Con Cordiali Saluti, Joe

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Italian Heritage Month

October is Italian Heritage Month, formerly known as National Italian-American Heritage Month. Coinciding with the festivities surrounding Columbus Day, the proclamation is recognition of the many achievements, contributions, and successes of Americans of Italian descent as well as Italians in America. I would like to take it a step further by writing about the contributions of Rosetans. Majestic Athletic was founded in 1976 by Faust Capobianco III. Prior to that time, the Capobianco family (Faust II and Mary Tumolo Capobianco) operated Maria Rose Fashions. As fashion apparel production shifted from the Lehigh Valley to the South, the company shifted focus to the athletic team wear business. Majestic invented the batting practice jersey, a lighter-weight pullover jersey designed for use in the heat of day. In 1982, Majestic batting practice jersey made its debut with MLB. Two years later the company signed its first National Licensing Agreement with MLB. The company made its NFL fan wear debut in 1989. In 1994 with the baseball strike large box stores were stuck with uniforms coming in from oversees, afterwards shifting their orders to Majestic who had a lower minimum, could focus on the team that was hot, and a faster response then from a slow boat from China. In 2004, after 22 years of producing MLB batting practice jerseys and fan fashions, Majestic became the sole provider of on-field uniforms for all 30 Major League Baseball teams. VF Corporation acquired Majestic in 2007, and two years later the "VF Licensed Sports Group" was created. Majestic renewed its contract with MLB in 2015. In January 2016, Majestic finalized a contract extension with the NFL. With the World Series approaching, when you see all the Majestic signs at the ballpark or seeing the emblem on the uniform remember that is was started with the vision, intelligence and intestinal fortitude of one of us an Italian American from Roseto, Faust Capobianco III
Portions from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Non abbiate paura di dare il buon per andare per il grande.”

“Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

~ John D. Rockefeller

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:
   Apples / Mele

Ciao Amici,

I remember going with Grandpop in the fall to visit his friends on the farms
who had apple orchards. Grandpop would take me to into the building to see how they pressed the apples to make cider. After seeing all those bins full of apples and the size of the apple presses compared to our wine presses at home, I was quite impressed! Grandpop would hold me up so that I could see first hand how it was being made. From hearing the sounds of the apples in the press, the scent from the apples and watching the juice flow into the large tanks, I was fascinated to see first hand the manufacturing of the finished product. Then he handed me a gallon of cider to take home. Grandpop would talk to them about livestock they might want to sell before winter. Then he would buy baskets of apples to sell at the shop and to have on hand to eat. I don’t remember Grandmom canning apples, they would keep them in the walkin or root cellar and they seemed to last for along time. The only item I recall her making was her delicious apple pies. She would start making her crust with lard, as everyone did at the time, not with butter or Crisco. Again her pie pans were not the normal 10” but 14”. I’d watch her peel the apples and she’d always have me taste some. “Josie Ottenere il perno di rotolamento.” [“Joe get me the rolling pin.”] I could the strength in her arms as she’d pound the dough down back & forth rolling with great determination. The dough went onto the pan to form the pie crust, then after all the preparation it was time to bake. The house was filled with the wonderful aroma of apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and spice. “Is Ready yet?” Was the mantra of us kids as we waited. “Pazienza detto il Monaco!” [“Patience said the monk!”], Grandmom would say as we saw the pies cooling. We knew the time was near. Finally she would call us; “Venite e presentano alcuni!” [“Ok come and get it!”] There was only one thing left to do and that was Mom dipping out the ice cream. Another day another treat brought to me by my loving grandparents.

"Dobbiamo avere una torta. Lo stress non può esistere in presenza di torta."

We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of pie.”
- David Mamet, Boston Marriage

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop
 Vinegar Power / Potenza di aceto


Ciao Amici,

     You would think when Grandmom reaped the crops of her garden harvest that it was time to relax and take it easy; not for Grandmom, she did not put her feet up until she went to bed. As the baskets and bushels got filled with the hot and sweet peppers, cucumbers, green tomatoes, eggplant and other vegetables, Grandmom’s mind would be over flowing with ideas. While other people would let the produce rot on the vine and sit at home and watch the TV, my penny wise grandmother did not waste anything and the canning kitchen in the “base-a-ment” was open for business again. This time instead of the bouquet of cooked tomatoes the house was filled with the aroma of red wine vinegar simmering on the stove. At the time I don’t remember having all the different vinegars we have today like balsamic, raspberry and so on, it was red or white wine, apple cider and white distilled. She made her own vinegar which was always concocted in the big earthenware pot downstairs. When we dressed our house salad, Grandmom tended to be a little heavy handed when it came to adding red wine vinegar to the insalata [salad] there was always some left in the plate that you just had to dip a piece of Italian bread and clean your plate and your palate. Maybe that is why we Italians eat our salad at the end of the meal. When a snow storm in January was coming upon us, Grandmom would call to me, “Josie Andare giù da bash e farmi un barattolo di aceto pepe roni.”  [“Go down stairs and get me a jar of vinegar peppers.”]  I’d watch her in the little kitchen sautéing the tender pork with garlic and onions and at the precise time the vinegar peppers with some of the vinegar from the jar were added to deglaze the pan. If that was not enough, after she removed them from the pan she added sliced Italian bread and toasted it in the pan so every drop was utilized. Sitting at the table for dinner she would remind us and say, “Now you know why I work a so hard in September so we can eat like this in January.”


Gli uomini sono come il vino - qualche volta di aceto,

ma il miglior migliorare con l'età.

- Papa Giovanni XXIII


Men are like wine - some turn to vinegar,

but the best improve with age.


Con Cordiali Saluti, Joe

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Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:   Lasagna / Lasagne

Ciao Amici,

     Growing up in the butcher shop as the warm summer winds of July and August gave way to cool nights of September and October, our menu changed. After the months of lighter fare, like angel hair with sho-way sho-way sauce made with fresh tomatoes. It was time to make the gravy meat or Bolognese sauce. I could see the look in Grandmom’s eyes; it was time to make the lasagna. In Italy the word Lasagne refers to the dish in which lasagna is made, very much like how the word “casserole” refers to the actual meal when the word is actually the name for the dish it is cooked in.
Like every thing Grandmom did she did in a big way and lasagna was no exception. I never heard her say I am going to make “a little Lasagna” little was not in her vocabulary when it came to food and loving her family. If you are going to make lasagna then get serious and make lasagna. You never know who may stop by that we can invite to have dinner with us. Her pan was just wide enough not to hit the side of the oven and just long enough the oven door would close and so high that the one rack would be needed so it would fit. What sets Grandmoms great lasagna apart is how it is made, and that does not just refer to following the best lasagna recipe. Grandmom was passionate about cooking and she loved to use fresh ingredients. Starting with the homemade pasta sheets she made with durum wheat semolina. The cheese should also be fresh for the best results. Some recipes for lasagna call for a variety of different cheeses but in our house mozzarella, pecorino romano and ricotta was always used together. As customers would come to buy at the butcher shop they would enter with a big inhale and ask, “Sure smells good in here Dia dor are you making Lasagna?”  With glimmer in her eyes and a shimmer in her smile “a just a little” she would say. Sometimes if I was worried about something as she placed the large casserole of Lasagna on table, she would look at me and smile,  “Ok”,  she would say, “Don’t worry, forget about it and lets eat some Lasagna.” I so loved my Grandmother!

Con il dovuto rispetto a Will Rogers, non ho mai incontrato una lasagna non mi è piaciuto.
With due respect to Will Rogers, I never met a lasagna I didn't like.
~ Garfield

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Elderly / Anziani

Ciao Amici,
When an elderly person walked into the butcher shop I could feel the respect my Grandparents gave them. One big, happy family is a way to describe most Rosetans opinion on the priority of the family. Sometimes it is sharing a home and all the duties that come with maintaining one. In the modern way of this living arrangement, the oldest generation often cares for the youngest, while the breadwinners labor outside the home. As such, the aged remain thoroughly integrated well into their last days. In America and other Western cultures the trend is to be youth-centric, emphasizing attributes like selfishness, individualism and independence. The tendency ties an individual's value to his or her ability to work — something that diminishes in old age. Instead of using the experience of the elderly, the treatment of the elderly across cultures has said the geriatric in countries like U.S. live "lonely lives separated from their children and lifelong friends." As their health deteriorates, the elderly in these cultures often move to retirement community. Eastern cultures like China, Korea and Japan adhere to the Confucian tradition of "filial piety," which prioritizes the family unit and values elders with the utmost respect. In China a new Elderly Rights Law Warns them to "never neglect or snub elderly people" and mandating that they visit their elderly parents often, regardless of how far away they live.
Korea celebrates old age not only do Koreans respect the elderly, but they also celebrate them. For Koreans, the 60th and 70th birthdays are prominent life events, which are commemorated with large-scale family parties and feasts. The universal expectation in Korea is that roles reverse once parent’s age, and that it is an adult child's duty — and an honorable one at that — to care for his or her parents. Japan has an elderly predicament where 7.2 percent of the Japanese population will be 80 or older in 2020 (compared to 4.1 percent in the U.S.)

Gli uomini non smettere di giocare perché crescere vecchio; crescono vecchio perché smettere di giocare".

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Labor Day Poem

Ciao Amici,

You can’t help but to know that the citizens of the Slate belt worked hard and diligently . From the Slate quarries to the blouse mills ,and factories that once were ,proved the work ethic of our Slate belt citizens. This short poem by Walt Whitman was written to celebrate labor day.


~ Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day-at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Tomato / Pomodoro

Ciao Amici,
        Like the old song goes, “you like tomato I like tomaeto.” Tomato tomaeto tomato tomaeto let’s call the whole thing off. When it comes to Southern Italians and tomatoes, we never call off the tomatoes. With great anticipation from planting the seeds in the early spring in the basement, to taking them out to the garden and hammering the palid [poles] into the ground. We tied the plants and mulched around them along with the countless nights of watering the plants. Then when they begin to wither, their energy goes into the fruit to ripen. It was time to harvest. I could see the smile on Grandmom’s face as she picked the tomatoes off the vine. It was time to enjoy tomatoes every day in every way. Simple ways like my Mom’s favorite “Pane con olio di oliva e pomodoro” [bread with olive oil and tomato.] All that is needed is day old bread that you spritz with water then squeeze out and break up then add your tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. I would say “Mom how can you eat this everyday for a week? ”Ora è il momento di avere questo non a dicembre. [Now is the time to have this not December.] Of course macaroni was involved as Grandpop would make the “Showay Showay Sauce” with the fresh tomatoes, olive oil & garlic. Finally Grandmom would setup the kitchen in the “basa ment” to start the canning process. Grandmom’s kitchen was spotless and as I would see her work so hard in that hot kitchen I never heard her complain. She knew that in the year to come, the tomatoes on the shelf would be used for the Sunday Gravy that made her family happy. I remember her smile as the dozens of jars were filled with her “Tomato Gold.”

8.31.16 Article

~La conoscenza è sapere che il pomodoro è un frutto. La saggezza è sapere di non metterlo in una insalata di frutta.

~Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - Brian O'Driscoll

Con Cordiali Saluti,


Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Ravioli

Ciao Amici,

       As a young child growing up in the butcher shop I knew something special was going to happen when Grandmom got the big wooden board down. I wondered what she is up to next. She put flour on the board and made a well where she added the eggs, salt and olive oil. Then she started beating the eggs and adding the flour from the top until the dough was formed. After the past dough rested she retrieved the long rolling pin [which resembled a fungo bat]. Soon with the strength and power of her arm she flipped the dough back and forth. The little round ball of dough would soon cover the whole 4ft. board. When she asked me to get the ricotta, pecorino, mozzarella, fresh parsley, black pepper and eggs it only meant one thing; it was “ravioli time.”  Our family only made cheese ravioli. We always did a course of pasta followed by the gravy meat and then the salad. Again with her strength she would mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon… the eggs had no chance but to get beaten! Next with  only “oo spaplong ” [wheel cutter] she would cut strips and after brushing the ends with egg, place the filling  on the bottom pasta then top with another strip of pasta  and cut into rectangles. Grandmom did not measure like some of her friends did to get each one perfectly the same ; but just with her eye and experience came very close to the same size and did about 12 to their one. Like every thing she did from portions to size they were large. As the gravy simmered with the meatballs, sausage, braciole, pieces of pork, veal and lamb and as the water came to a boil, she would call us to the table. The large pillows of ravioli were strained and the gravy added into the large serving platter. After Grand- pop took his first taste he’d say “Nemmeno il Re di Napoli mangiare tale buona ravioli’  [Not even the King of Naples eat such good ravioli].

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Olympics

Ciao Amici,

As a young child growing up in the Butcher Shop I looked forward to watching the Olympics with my family. Back then there were fewer sports to follow then there is now.
Not only did we root for the Americans but being that my Mom and Grandparents were born in Italy, we also hoped the Italians did well also. We would watch the events at night together and I would see the enthusiasm in my grandfather’s eyes and mannerism as the Americans would win.  “You see Josy,” he would say, “The United States is the Best.” The next day my friends and I would try to emulate the athletics. As I would play with my friends it seemed we would be running faster, jumping higher, and throwing farther then we did the day before. I remember Grandpop was proud as Roma was chosen to host the 1960 Olympic Games, which combined new, glittering facilities with some sports held in sites preserved from Ancient Roma. The 1960 marathon was unique as the only Olympic marathon that neither started nor ended in the Olympic Stadium. It started later in the afternoon, to protect the runners from the warm Italian weather. It was won by the Ethiopian [Abebe Bikila], who ran barefoot, and finished in the night, the route lit by soldiers holding torches, beneath the Arch of Constantine. Bikila would return to win the marathon again in 1964 and he was the first of the dominant African distance runners, and some consider him the greatest ever marathoner. It was nice to be watching the games with my family who had no prejudice and judged the Athletics not by the color of their skin or what country they came from but the effort and sportsmanship they portrayed. Growing up with my daughters we also enjoyed watching the Olympics together. I was happy that they had the opportunity to play sports and the life lessons that sports teach us.

When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening any more.”
Florence Griffith Joyner (American athlete, 1988 Summer Olympics)

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day”

Ciao Amici,

It’s now time for desperate measures. August 8th is National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. You know your favorite neighbor would just love that zucchini that you somehow missed in your garden and has now grown large enough to feed a family of twelve.  Experienced gardeners know that Zucchini is one of the most prolific plants in the entire gardening world. A single plant produces a seemingly endless supply of Zucchini. “Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbors' Porch Day” was created due to overzealous planting of zucchini, citizens are asked to drop off baskets of the squash on neighbors’ doorsteps. Grandmom was always up to the task of, year after year finding ways to use the zucchini. It would start with the flower itself; she would stuff them with mozzarella, make a batter and then pan fry them. When my friends would be over she would always tell them to have a taste. She would say, “Try it you’ll like it, you don’t know what you are missing unless you try!”  She’d never say what it was until after they sampled it. “Wow that is good can you tell us what is now”, they’d ask? “Ok you are eating flowers, zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella.” What a delicacy! Grand pop would make his summer favorite Zucchini “aceto dolce” which was zucchini marinated in olive oil and red vinegar and fresh mint, a perfect “contourno” served with a double loin lamb chop right off the grill. Back to the little kitchen where Grandmom would be making stuffed zucchini boats filled with our sausage, cheese & sauce or fried for alla Parmigiana, not done yet and of course with pasta and in the chicken cacciatore. And finally with espresso, a nice slice of zucchini bread with plenty of walnuts in it. Occasionally Grandmom would like to “stuzzicato“ [tease or play tricks] she would wrap her excess zucchini in butcher paper and give to my friends resembling a Hoagie  but when they got home  all they had was more zucchini!

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.”
~ Jim Davis quotes[American actor, 1915-1981]

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  Granita / Italian Ice

Ciao Amici,

Ancient Persia were among the first cultures that developed a dessert made from fruit and either shaved ice or mountain snow, similar discoveries must have been made by numerous cultures that had access to ice and something sweet to add to it.
In the hot and humid days of August, Grandmom would treat us to Granita, a version of Sorbet or Italian Ice. In the early days at the butcher shop, Grandmom said Grandpop sold Italian Ice. Back in the thirties there was not much automation so they relied on the old method. First they would juice fresh lemons and oranges. Then from a large block of ice they would use a manual ice shaver per order, and then add to the juice and some simple sugar syrup to make a refreshing cool treat. The other special ice treat we enjoyed in the summer was Granita. They would take left over espresso and put it in a container and then place in the freezer which was in the basement. After about 30 minutes they would summon me to go down and retrieve the tray, I would have to be steady as not to spill it. The granita would be frozen around the edges and slushy. Grandmom would use a fork to stir the granita and then I would run it back into freezer. Every 20 minutes or so Grandmom would call me to retrieve it again and after about an hour and half it would be completely frozen into a mass of flurry icy shards. Besides espresso flavor they would also make with lemons, orange or almonds. So after a day of wiffle ball with my friends it was nice to come home and cool down with lemon granita.

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  Grilling with Grandpop/ Grigliare con nonno

Ciao Amici,

As I cook on the grill this summer I am reminded of my mentor, my Pappa Nonno [Grandpop], as he was the one who taught me the ins and outs of cooking Al di fuori [outside] on the grill. We would go behind the butcher shop and leave the business of running the shop to Grandmom. There were no cell phones, I pads or tablets to distract us from the grill, hardwood charcoal, and meat. Grandpop would not use lighter fluid. He preferred using dry twigs and wood shavings to get the charcoal going. When I was young, it was fascinating and impressive to see him work with fire. Grand pop was not one to hold back with the variety. He began his grilling with hot dogs and his hamburgers made from ground sirloin, then some bbq chicken and sausage, next, lamb chops and ending with some thin beef steak. When you are Italian you want to be certain no one will go away hungry at your home. I remember one time when his cousin Ruesh (Red) Trigani visited from Hamilton Ontario with some of his amici [friends] because that week we had butchered a Black Angus steer. “As long as you keep eating I will keep on slicing and grilling,” Grandpop explained. “Siediti , e un bicchiere di avere il mio vino [“Sit back , and have a glass of my wine.”] When the grill was just at the right temperature he would slice the meat and it went right on the grill, sizzles and then in a few seconds flips and sizzle again. Then those five or six pieces went into some great Italian bread. They kept on eating and Grandpop kept on slicing and grilling. “Josy, Salire e scendere di più pane” [“Josy, go up and get more bread.”] As I would go into the store Grandmom was wandering how many loaves they would eat. Finally they had reached the point of fullness.  “Ok,” Grandpop said, “Time for dessert.” Out of the wine pottery pitcher came the peaches that had been soaking in the red wine all afternoon.

L’appetito vien mangiando
The appetite comes while you’re eating

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Days to Live By / Giorni da Vivere 

Ciao Amici,

Many citizens from Roseto are very devout Catholics; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church which they built is testament to that fact. Somehow people managed to live quite well by the following thoughts, without thousands of man made laws to guide them. Maybe the world would be a better place if people would follow this Pennsylvania German’s motto:

Sunday / Domenica (The Lord’s Day)

O Dio (God), I have prepared my house for you. Please come into my heart as my honored guest so I can may spend the day in your presence

Monday / Lunedì (Wash day)

Signore (Lord) help me wash away all my selfishness and vanity, so I may serve you
with perfect humility through the week ahead

Tuesday /Martedì (Ironing Day)
Caro Signore (Dear Lord) help me iron out all the wrinkles of prejudice I have collected through the years, so I may see the beauty in others

Wednesday / Mercoledì (Mending Day)

O Dio (God) Help me mend my ways so I will not set a bad example for others

Thursday / Giovedì (Cleaning Day)

Cari Gesù (Dear Jesus) Help me dust off all the many faults I have been hiding in the secret corners of my heart
Friday /Venerdì  (Shopping Day)

O Dio (God) give me the grace to shop wisely so I may purchase eternal happiness for myself and all others in need of your love

Saturday/ Sabato (Cooking Day)
Help me my Savior to brew a big kettle of brotherly love and serve it with the clean, sweet bread of human kindness

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Happy Independence Day United States / Buon Giorno dell’Indipendenza                                                                
Ciao Amici,

My wife likes to Rompere le Pallone, [bust my chops], when it comes to my Italian pride. As I was getting ready to write this week’s article I said I was going to write about the Italian forefathers contributions to American Independence, she just rolled her eyes and laughed. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, Italian traditions may not come to mind. However, like many milestones in American history, Italians have made big contributions to our Independence. This excerpt taken from a New York Times 1994 Letter to the Editor titled, ‘Honor a Son of Italy on the Fourth of July,’ mentions one Italian who aided American sovereignty. “As an American of Italian heritage I have wondered why Filippo Mazzei is not credited with his service to the Revolutionary cause when we celebrate the Fourth of July,” the author wrote. The author was right; in fact the most famous line in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal,” can be attributed to writer and political activist Filippo ‘Philip’ Mazzei. Born in Italy, Mazzei became involved in the American cause after arriving in Virginia in 1773. As a friend to the first four American presidents, Mazzei spent time sharing ideas with his closest confidant, Thomas Jefferson. Thanks to his friendship with Jefferson, Mazzei received an original copy of the Declaration. Jefferson himself credited Mazzei with the idea for the famous line. The words first appeared as “Tutti gli uomini sono per natura egualmente liberi e indipenti (All men are by nature equally free and independent)” in Mazzei’s essay, ‘Furioso.’In addition to Mazzei, several Italians contributed to the American cause during the Revolutionary war including: Pascal DeAngelis who, in 1776, at age 13 became one of the first native Italians to bear arms against the British. He fought for the Americans for the remainder of the Revolutionary War. Born and raised in Italy, Francesco Vigo came to America as Spanish solider and later established a fur trade in St. Louis. When the Revolutionary War came to the Northwest Territory, Vigo accepted IOU’s from the American Colonel George Rogers Clark in exchange for providing Clark’s men with food, clothing, ammunition and strategic battle support. Additionally, in 1779, two overseas regiments with Italian recruits arrived to fight for the American cause. They were the 3rd Piedmont with 473 men, and the 30th Du Perche with 1064 men. So when you’re celebrating Independence Day this year, remember the contributions of Mazzei, DeAngelis, Vigo and other revolutionary Italians. The information and research for this article is taken from Richard A. Capozzola’s “Five Centuries of Italian-American History.” Written by OSIA National Office Assistant, Carol Cummings.

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:  Papa vs. Padre   Dad vs. Father

While growing up in Roseto, some of my friends who were not Italian Americans would come over to play and they noticed some differences. They would ask, “Why all the hugging and kissing, even your dad kisses you?”  I would explain that this is how Italian families greet each other. They would say, why is everyone yelling? I would tell them we are Italian and this is how we communicate. “Why is your dad in the kitchen, cooking?” This is what some Italian men do, they love to cook. This leads us into this… Even though the words “father “ and “dad” are technically in principle the same, the truth is, there are differences between Padre (Father) and Papa (Dad). If your family already regards your Dad as a responsible dad the chances are he is also what being a father is. To give you an  example, if a father was the type of man that leaves his child off at his mother’s house so she can baby sit them while he take times off to go drinking beer with his buddies, likely is not a Dad. If you see a child look at his father with gleaming eyes, at the same time assured that everything will be fine because dad is here. This father is also a Dad. By contrast when a father puts his priorities ahead of his families and leaves during times of crisis he is not a dad only a father. A father just supplies his family with basic needs; clothing, shelter and food, which is all well and good, but a dad does those things plus gives guidance to his children and family. A father is someone who contributes to the physical creation of the child where by a dad finds satisfaction in interacting with his wife and children. It is indisputably far easier to become a Father then is to become a Dad. A Dad is able to show more amore (love) to them than a father can show. Also a Dad is a dad forever, never would he stop helping his children even though they have grown and have families of their own. To my Father and Grandfather, grazie (thank you) for taking the time to also be my Dad and Grand Dad.
Felice giorno padri in cielo
 Happy Father’s Day in Heaven

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Slate Belt Heritage Focus Award


I wish to share with you part of the speech I gave at the Slate Belt Heritage Center when I was presented with the Special Focus Award.
"I am so honored to be here tonight and grateful to be the recipients of the Special Focus Award, especially from an organization like the Slate Belt Heritage who I admire and respect for all the great things they do to preserve the history of our community. I first heard about the Slate Belt Heritate Center from my good friend Nick Rosato. He came up to the shop to see about summer employment for his son, his words were, "Joe, are you hiring Italians?" From there he got me to donate the sausage machine and pictures of my Grandparents that are in the Italian Room at the center. I get a great feeling when readers that I see stop to tell me how much they enjoy my articles. Not only my friends from Roseto that are Italian, but also readers that are not from Roseto or Italian, because they grew up in the sixties and they can relate to what I am writing about. The story started when I was a young boy growing up in the butcher shop and by helping my Grandparents in the kitchen, is where I learned to cook. As Dr. Wolf wrote, "Rosetans are of their own tribe." After dinner we would not rush to leave, Grandmom and Grandpop would have a pow wow and tell stories and I found them to be great story tellers. These days when customers would come to the shop we would reminisce and my stories started from that and we decided to write the articles and with the encouragement of my wife; the book.
I am especially grateful to my grandparents who raised me with a can do attitude this is the story on how they started out. As young immigrants they came to this country legally, worked hard to follow the American dream. They learned the English language; there was no press 2 for Italian. My Grandfather fought in World War 1, they struggled though prejudice and the depression. They could have purchased furniture or business equipment when they settled in Roseto but they chose business equipment and lived out of crates until they could afford furniture. They did not receive any government handouts. They embraced America and its customs but never lost view of their own heritage. They became Italian Americans and because of what they stand for and who they are is my inspiration for the writings I do. I would also like to thank my wife Joelene who proofs the articles week after week, month after month, year after year so that readers can understand what I am trying to say and enjoy them more, with some perspective of a Bangor girl. She owns a T-Shirt that reads, “Pray for me, my husband is Italian!” That being said it has made us closer by her understanding how I grew up and my family that had passed away before I met her and why we work so hard.
I am asked by customers and readers, “Where are the daughters?” They helped me when they where younger and have moved on with careers of their own. They did not have the passion to continue on in the business like I do to cater with the many hours and holidays but they did learn to work hard and are successful. But I love what I do which I must admit that if you love what you do you don’t have to work a day in your life. With the 7 grandchildren we have maybe someday you will see J DeFranco and Grandchildren. In closing I would like to dedicate this award to my wife, parents and grandparents because of the faith they had in me that I am here today. Grazie

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Listen Up / Ascolta Fino

Growing up in the butcher shop, my bedroom was directly above the shop. On occasion on Saturday mornings customers would come to the shop early. One particular customer a Slovak gentleman would arrive and with a loud and thunderous voice, "Good Morning Theodora, are my steaks ready?" It was my Saturday wake up call! He would talk and talk while my grandmother would smile and listen to his jokes.He made her laugh while she provided him with a captive audience as a great listener. Mayve she learned from the story her grandfather Giuseppe had told her about listening. Grandmom's family were blacksmiths and owned a grain mill and a general store. A man had lost his valuable pocket watch while working in one of these buildings. He searched diligently for it raking through all the sawdust on the floor - but without success. Fellow workers also failed to find it. A boy who wanted to know what all the fuss was about went into the building, told everyone to leave and closed the door, and before long he emerged with the watch "How did you do it," the men asked? The boy replied, "I lay down with my ear in the sawdust on the floor, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking and the watch was found!"

"Abbiamo due orecchie e una bocca, e quindi dovremmo ascoltare piu di quanto dicciamo."

"We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say."
-Zeno of Citium

Con Cordiali Saluti,

Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: Big Time Memories / Tempo di Grandi Ricordi

Ciao Amici,
My connection with the “Roseto Big Time” goes back 60 years when on July 29th1956 I was born. My Dad called Doctor Farace to say my Mom was ready for delivery and he said to take her to Pocono Hospital because he was golfing in Stroudsburg and it was closer for him to be there then in Easton. As the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church Procession went by the butcher shop that afternoon, I was born.
The tradition of your baptismal name at the time you are born is that of a Saint’s birthday or of a Feast’s Day, hence my middle name is Carmen. As a young child I had 3 events to look forward to at the end of July, Grandpop’s birthday, “The Big Time” and my birthday. I can relate to friends and family whose birthdays fall around Christmas. Everything gets lumped into the same party which was great because many friends and family visited the homestead that weekend. I have gone from my memories as a youngster, to taking my children, to now taking my grandchildren to The Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel [Big Time]. To see the excitement in their faces makes me recall myself and my children’s faces. When you make the sausage in the building you live in it can’t help but have special meaning and pride. There was never a time when my grandparents did not offer food to friends and family but during the week of The Big Time, they tended to go just a little bit over broad which was part of being Italian. What they celebrated was the fact that their community kept the tradition of honoring Our Lady of Mt. Carmel just like they had for hundreds of years in Roseto Valfortore Italia. They were not ashamed of their humble beginnings, where they came from or who they are. Maybe they spoke a little broken but they learned English. They were Americans and proud of the fact that in this nation you where able to keep your Italian heritage and traditions. Not only the hard work and dedication of our forefathers that stands before us at the corner of Garibaldi and Third Street, but also the spirit that lives there, the spirit of respecting your neighbor but more importantly the love of our heritage, traditions, brotherhood and community.

Con Cordiali Saluti,

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Growing Up in the Butcher Shop:        Use It or Lose It /Se non lo usi lo perdi

Ciao Amici,
I recently read this, and reminded me on how quick we are to change when no change is needed. It’s taken from the Daily encounter by Richard Innes.
"'So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you. His master replied, “Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.'"
"Unamuno, the Spanish philosopher, tells about the Roman aqueduct at Segovia, in his native Spain. It was built in AD109. For eighteen hundred years, it carried cool water from the mountains to the hot and thirsty city. Nearly sixty generations of men drank from its flow. "Then came another generation, a recent one, who said, 'This aqueduct is so great a marvel that it ought to be preserved for our children, as a museum piece. We shall relieve it of its centuries-long labor.' They did; they laid modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient bricks and mortar a reverent rest. And the aqueduct began to fall apart. The sun beating on the dry mortar caused it to crumble. The bricks and stone sagged and threatened to fall. What ages of service could not destroy idleness disintegrated."
God has given everyone at least one talent. While some people may have ten talents and others only one, we are all responsible for what we do with what we have been given. The important thing is to develop whatever talents we have and to use them wisely, and to invest them in things of eternal value, for we will reap what we sow.

1. Matthew 25:25-26, 28-29 (NIV).
2. Resource, Sept./ Oct., 1992, p. 4.

Sappiamo che non possiamo semi di piante con pugni chiusi. Per seminare, dobbiamo aprire le nostre mani.
We know we cannot plant seeds with closed fists. To sow, we must open our hands. Adolfo Perez Esquivel

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