Wednesday, 1 February 2012

National Nonna Week

In his button-up coat, far right, is Mr. BBQ  with his siblings, cousins, and Nonni, fondly remembered by all as Babu and Dido.
Nonna Maria TV had me doubled over this week. I laughed so hard I feel like I’ve done a month of situps. Thanks to everyone who sent it to me. It’s vintage. Did our Nonnas all go to the same school?  Did they all learn the fine art of what to do with shoes? Met-te-te le scarpe, leva-te-le-scarpe! No, no, lascia le scarpe, lascia le scarpe...

If you haven’t seen the clip of the charming and lovable puppet created by Montreal native Anthony Imperioli and his friends, check out their latest episode all about what Nonnas say. It is priceless.

School of Ma must have been where all our Nonnas went.  Ma, a-do-vai?  Ma, a che ora ritorni? Ma, sh-tat-attende, si capite? Ma, che-shta- me- fa shi-pazza!  So many memories; such fierce love those Nonnas had for us.

Top pic: i Nonni Siciliani.          Bottom pics: la Prozia e i Nonni Ciociari
We felt it every time we ventured out, especially when it came to La Giacca.  Speaking of jackets, it’s February and I’m feeling mezza scema. My big bulky giacca means I take up more room than usual. It’s a fight to turn the steering wheel in my car, and I knocked over a display at the grocery store. I will have to buy my groceries elsewhere for a while. I sound loud and swishy when I walk but it’s my very best heating device. Ma, whadda-you-gonna-do? Che brutta figura. At least I’m not like my dad, wearing my giacca in the house, swishing all over the place. Oh yeah. That’s what we can look forward to when we’re in our 80s.  Even central heating can’t warm up those ceramic tiles. Well, I suppose it could if you raised the temperature a little but then that would blow the Tomato Budget come Fall. Can you imagine having only 100 jars of sauce in your cantina instead of 300?  Che brutta figura. 

No one recognizes my dad these days as his giacca fits well above his nose. The only way I’m sure it’s him is because a) I know he lives there b) I recognize his eyes and c) he’s worn the same giacca for the past 10 years. Plus, I hear my mom in the background. But, let’s face it. At his age, going back and forth from the kitchen to the cantina in a Slanket would be complicated, so da ski giacca itza-gonna-be! It's warmer this week so he has probably scaled back to his heritage Nonno sweater.

But back to Nonna Maria. She make-a my heart-a sing, eh? Her stellar performance stirred up memories. Te facci’ neccone pasta?  Te facci’ neccone pizza?  Te facci’neccone castagne?  No matter what the season, my Ciociara grandmother was ready to feed us even before we could peel off our swishy giacchette.  She had lots of stories to tell…and a prayer or two to share. Here’s one she taught us about chestnuts, adapted from the Signs of the Cross Blessing, and one I never got tired of asking her to repeat in her dialect when I was very young:  In nome del Padre, figura in cape, nocce, nu-sci-cchie e castagn’infornate.
Soak chestnuts in water for 10 minutes before you slice them.

Ma, that’s how I remember it anyway. Here’s Nonna's recipe for oven-roasted chestnuts. You can still find some at the grocery store if you hurry.  Just don’t wear your bulky giacca when you go there. And if you raccomando, non fate una brutta figura, eh?

Careful here...discard all chestnuts that are too hard to cut.
Cover chestnuts in cold water and soak for 10 to 30 minutes. Longer is  

better. In the meantime, set your oven on broil mode.  Place chestnuts on a cutting board and make a deep cut in each one before placing them on a cookie tin. Don't attempt to cut those  that are hard as rock. Toss them out. Place tin under broiling elements; keep oven door slightly open as always when you broil and check every two to three minutes. Careful…like anything else on broil, chestnuts can burn easily and there's no saving them once they're black. Roast til they’re golden brown (anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes). Save your fingertips from burning and let cool a little before eating. While you’re savoring them, enjoy this classic Nonna Maria video of her at the hair salon. There are many other episodes online as well. Keep up the great work, Nonna Maria TV crew. Bravissimi!  

1 comment:

  1. I only wish I understood the language. You'll have to translate for me.
    Love the pictures.
    ...I've never had roasted chestnuts! Must try them next year.