Sunday, November 19, 2006

Grazie, Amici

When I was in my teens, I learned how to make the Zanone family ravioli. My great-grandfather, Pampa Charlie, was ill at the time and couldn’t really leave the couch in their apartment. I made the dough for the ravioli per his instructions, no small feat with my scrawny wrists and forearms, though I managed to knead it into submission. I took it to Pampa who said it looked good. That was all I needed. My great grandmother, Mimi K, great aunt Jeannie, and I spent the afternoon putting the ravioli guts onto the thin strips of pasta that had been rolled out, folding them over, crimping the edges and stabbing at the tops with the tines of a fork. When it was all complete, which is a process taking hours, I took some to Pampa and he said it was perfect. That was all I needed.

Today we made our annual batch of Zanone family ravioli. This year, however, Kristy and I did something different and invited friends over to help. Our extended family. The cast included Shannon and Brian, Stacey, Andria, and Elizabeth, my sister, who led the instruction in the beginning. I hope they had fun, it was what the holiday season is all about to me, gathering with friends and family to eat, drink wine and talk. All of their offspring were here, too, so we had eight kids running around the house as well.

After the preparation and construction of the ravioli, we had a big feast. Kristy did the cooking of the gravy and ravioli with GK strapped to her back, which is doubly impressive. Ravioli cooking is nothing new to Kristy, she’s probably been doing it for as long as we’ve known each other, some 19 years now. She’s worked on so many batches that when I needed a list of ingredients at work the other day so I could go to the grocery, she E-mailed a list from memory. It was dead on.

My sister and I may be the only family members of our generation who know how to make the ravioli and we both relish this tradition. What I learned today is that C is eager to take up the reins. This was the first time he was allowed to help and, at age eight, he jumped right in and kept up with the adults, never tiring, never losing interest. His ravioli turned out as well as anyone else’s, too.

So thanks, again, to our friends. We hope you enjoyed a taste of our family and that you will come back next year, if not sooner, to lend a hand again. I’ll tell you that you all did great, and I hope it means as much to you to hear it today as it did to me 20 years ago.

Photo courtesy of Click(Daily) who makes a mean piece of pasta.