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With Love, The Argentina Family: Memories of Tango and Kugel; Mate with Knishes
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message 1: by Mirta (last edited Dec 28, 2012 07:00PM) (new)

Mirta Trupp From "California Dreaming" pages 24-26:
On special occasions, holidays or birthdays, Mami would make sure that we had a bouquet of flowers or a cake decorated with the words, “With Love, The Argentina Family.” This was one way Mami included the beloved family members into our daily lives. Later, when it was time to make a toast, everyone would raise their glasses and exclaim, “Para los presentes y los ausentes!”(For those who are present and those who are absent) It was not unusual for some tears to be shed. Silently, everybody would be thinking about loved ones so far away; dreaming of the day they’d be together once more.

In the meantime, kids would be running in and out, under folding tables and between mix-matched chairs. The men would play dominos or truco (a traditional card game). They’d listen to futbol games on the radio and rant and rave until someone shouted “Gol!” With lethally-sharp toothpicks, they’d poke at their picada of pickles, cheese, and salami, drink effervescent combinations of seltzer and Cinzano and have fiery discussions regarding politics. The women, usually huddled in the kitchen, would discuss family issues, such as who was getting married, who was expecting a baby, which market had the freshest chicken, or more importantly, who was traveling to Argentina and could they bring back some Hepatalgina? (Medicinal drops for gastrointestinal ailments)

Everyone spoke at once; no one seemed to mind that others interrupted or raised their voices in order to be heard. There were groans and protests mixed in with shrieks of laughter. At some point, we’d all find a place to sit down so that we could finally eat. Delicious aromas would fill the small space. As children, we didn’t realize that our comfort foods were a blend of cuisines, Criollo, (a combination of gaucho or indigenous fare influenced by the Spaniards) “Jewish” (actually foods typical of Eastern Europe) and Italian (due to the tremendous influence of the Italian immigration to Argentina). Each one couldn’t be farther from the other culturally, but somehow the fusion of tastes and textures worked.

I noticed that the grown-ups would get very emotional and even angry at times when the subject turned to Argentina and it always turned to Argentina. One person would say, “This doesn’t happen in Argentina” and of course, the next person would say, “That doesn’t happen in America,” splitting themselves into groups of pros and cons.

Years later, when I would reflect upon these conversations, I realized that those heated words were not necessarily against each other. They were internal debates, each person trying to justify the huge sacrifices made in order to seek out a better future. Still, as children, all we heard, all we felt, was the conflict. There, lurking in the background was the unspoken and remote possibility that we’d pick up and move back “home.” Yet, where was home? To most of the young children, home was America and for those old enough to remember Argentina …well, the old adage of “You can’t go back home” rang very true.

message 2: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Costa Viglucci (patcostaviglucci) | 15 comments Thank you, Mirta. I enjoyed reading it. Want to share a Christmas excerpt from my memoir, "Growing Up Italian in God's Country: Stories From the Wilds of Pennsylvania," but not sure how to start a new discussion. Can anyone help?

Patricia Costa Viglucci

message 3: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Costa Viglucci (patcostaviglucci) | 15 comments Not sure if this is the correct way to do this, but here is the excerpt from my memoir free today for the last time:

(Adapted from Growing Up Italian in God’s Country.)Christmas morning was excitement itself. After opening piles of gifts, it was mass at St. Augustine’s, then to our Costa grandparents. Their wide living room would be festive, wreath on the door, lights glowing on a scrawny Christmas tree. Slippers and apricot brandy for Grandpa, stockings for Grandma, but their real presents were olive oil and other delicacies brought in from the Olean import stores and already stowed away

A round side table, covered with crocheted lace, boasted a large platter of pignolati, tiny balls of dough deep-fried and coated with honey. Next to it rested a decanter of Grandpa’s homemade wine, deep red, made from grapes shipped from California.

The double doorway to the small dining room was draped in more crocheted hangings. Our cousins and we were fed first under the watchful eyes of FDR and Pope Pius XII. Gram’s signature Calabrian dish of baked macaroni rich in sauce, eggs and pecorino romano plus roast chicken took center stage. Crespeddi, deep fried bread dough, filled with tuna or served as appetizers.

When the adults sat down, we children would go back to the living room and pound the player piano until Dad would pluck us off the bench and put the lid down. Eventually the wide room would begin to fill even more with family friends, most of them from our grandparents’ small town of Santa Maria di Catanzaro. Grandpa would go to the cellar again and again to refill the decanter.

As the cigar smoke filled the air, the glasses clinking and the musical sounds of Italian resonating through the room, we children would take to the three sofas covered with crocheted pillows. We’d fall asleep, the early excitement taking its toll, the temperature in the room rising with the voices. Brief naps and we’d awaken with the imprint of a rosette or angel on our cheeks.

Soon it was time to go to our Borelli grandparents–depending on the state of the dirt roads–for our third celebration of the day. We’d dress in our snowsuits, and stand near the door sweltering as the animated conversations went on and on. But finally we were in the cold car and headed for Conrad, 18 miles east, through the deep woods of the Susquehanna State Forest.

At the crest of the hill by the one-room school, I’d look for the dim light in the window down across the field and creek. And then we would be rattling over the wooden bridge, taking a 90-degree right onto the front lawn. The doors would open, Grandpa and our young uncle coming out to carry us children in.
In front of the window opposite the piano was a sight to take away one’s breath, a tree covered in lighted candles and tin ornaments. More hugs, cries of delight, more gifts. We’d move quickly to the dining room for yet another feast. Then it was to bed under patchwork quilts lulled to dreamless sleep by the flickering light of the kerosene lamp.

message 4: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Costa Viglucci (patcostaviglucci) | 15 comments Neglected to post the link for "Growing Up Italian in God's Country: Stories From the Wilds of Pennsylvania."

Patricia Costa Viglucci

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