I made a stop at one of my favorite stores today. It was an unplanned trip. I passed by it on my way to somewhere else and it started calling my name. Next thing you know I was walking into the Italian market. I love that place. As soon as I step through the door a flood of childhood memories washes over me. Instantly I’m transported back to New Jersey, circa 1970’s. To the last time I really felt connected to my Italian roots.
The smell of freshly baked bread takes me back to the little Italian bakery on the corner. I used to ride my bike there and get cookies. The eggplant parmigiana at the deli counter make me think of my mother. So do the artichokes in the produce aisle. Suddenly I find I’m 10 years old again, back in our kitchen frying eggplant and stuffing artichokes with my mother. I loved doing that. The meat at the butcher counter reminds me of Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house. Of the glorious aroma of garlic and tomatoes that filled her house when dinner cooked. Of helping her stir the sauce that was simmering on the stove. Of sitting around a big table with my mom, grandma, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins– heaping my plate full of spaghetti and meatballs and sausage. I remember feeling connected. It felt like a place I belonged. It felt like home.
Now that I’m free of the shackles of depression I realize that this connectedness is something I’m missing in my life. I spent so many years on a deserted island of despair. Now I’m longing to go back and pick up where I left off. But you know what they say. You can’t go back home again. This is true to some degree. Most of the people on my Italian side are long gone, and the places are gone too. Even though I can’t just go back to New Jersey and pick up where I left off, I can find other ways to connect to my heritage.
Today, I’m doing that at the Italian market. I bypassed the pasta aisles begrudgingly, as it is forbidden on my Ketogenic diet. I did stop at the bakery and pick up a slice of Cassata cake for my hard working husband, though. He deserves it. I snuck a whiff of the rummy goodness wafting off the cake and wished I could eat it. I filled my cart with sausages and salami and these beautiful babies:
Wonderful, delicious, braciole. Flank steak rolled up with cheese and all sorts of goodness. They are going in my belly tonight. My husband’s too – I suppose I do have to share. And on that note, I shall leave you. I have to go fill my house with the smell of garlic and tomatoes. Ciao, and arrivederci!
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6