Nana was a wonderful grandmother and great grandmother. We were very fortunate as kids to live in the same city, so we saw her often. The memory I associate most with Nana was her cooking. It was spectacular. She could make all the traditional Italian recipes, but she could also make the most wonderful one-pot meals from almost anything she had in the refrigerator.
Every Wednesday she would cook up a big pot of pasta with either vegetables, beans, or meat, and drop it off at our house for our supper. All she asked in return is that we bring the empty dish back to her so she could fill up it again for us the next week.
When I was young, Nana would sometimes babysit for my siblings and me on a Saturday night and she would keep us entertained by making homemade pasta. I remember being amazed as she made a little well of flour right on the kitchen table and then cracked an egg into the center of it to start the dough. She would roll it out by hand using a big wooden rolling pin that my grandfather had made for her.
After rolling it out nice and flat, she would start at one end and roll it up like a long jellyroll and then cut it into strips for fettuccini. Our job was to unroll the strips of pasta and then hang them over the backs of the kitchen chairs to dry overnight. (She would cover the chair backs with cotton dishtowels first.) The dried pasta would be used for Sunday dinner the next day. Oh! I can still taste how yummy it was!
Nana was always quick to lend a hand when needed. Up until the last 10 years of her life she was still helping others. She once had a job as an aide to an elderly couple, doing some cooking and light housekeeping. Nana was older than both of them at the time.
In addition to her cooking skills, Nana was an avid crocheter. She loved to use crochet cotton and the smallest of crochet hooks to make doilies and table cloths. The Pineapple pattern was her favorite. She gave me a beautiful crocheted table cloth in the Pineapple pattern as a wedding gift.
I asked Nana if she had ever made a quilt. She told me that she had made one once, but that one day it was stolen off her clothesline in the backyard. I was disappointed to think that not only had Nana lost her handiwork, but that I would have loved to have seen it. Her response was, “Whoever took it probably needed it more than I did.” That one line sums up Nana’s philosophy on sharing. More than once I heard her say that there was always room for one more at the table.
Nana was a big part of our lives, and barely a day goes by that someone doesn’t mention her name.
Thank you, Nana. Happy Birthday!