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Growing Up in the Butcher Shop    Eating Together / Mangiare Insieme

    

Ciao Amici,

       With Fathers Day approaching I am reminded of some of the great dishes Grandpop and my father cooked for us. Naturally being butchers their focus was the main entrée. Grandpop when he first immigrated lived in a tenement apartment above an Italian Restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx with his older brother Michael. When day was finished at the factory he would return home to the aromas coming from the restaurant which could not be avoided. One recipe that Grandpop made that we considered a specialty was Beef Pizzaoli. Grandpop would start with round or sirloin steak that he had pounded thin then he would sauté the meat very quickly in his special steel pan after that he would put them aside and add olive oil & garlic. He took the chopped fresh tomato, peas, fresh parsley & oregano and return the steak to the pan and let simmer and then topped it off with grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Ah to Immergere il pane in [dunk the bread into] the sauce was so so good. Dad on the other hand you may consider a scholar when it came to food, rows and rows of cookbooks filled the shelves. One of the recipes he would make on special occasions was prime rib that was actually made with Prime meat not choice, or select but the real prime grade of meat. He would cook the meat on high until a crust formed and then slow roast it until between rare and medium rare; another culinary masterpiece by my dad.  But while all this great and diverse food was enjoyable the most important lesson they taught our family and guests wasn’t about dishes. It was about how to eat together. They understood it wasn’t just consumption; it was an act of sharing of being together as a family that was of upmost importance. It was dining together was as important as the act of eating itself.  Our family meal was a moment in the day that puts everyone face-to-face. It was the one moment in our scattered lives when phones are put down and forks are picked up. Sure, it’s a time for nourishment. But more importantly, it’s a time for family to ask and answer questions. It was a time for them to experience their children and for us to experience our parents.
A tavola non s’invecchia’: At the table, one does not grow old
 
Grazie,

Joe

 

J. DeFranco and Daughters Catering & Deli

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