Wednesday, February 10, 2010 jersey & back...

...after a late eventful saturday night, attempting to rise early on sunday to head to jersey was just as hard as it sounds...when i finally made that happen, i was excited to see my family after not seeing them for a few weeks...all my visits there start out the same...I think about how much I love my family, and however flawed we may all be, how ridiculously much we all love each other and would do absolutely anything for each other...then when I arrive, this unadulterated loved is usually mixed with the requisite nagging of each other about mundane things, everyone getting on each other's nerves, and the "loud talking" mistaken by ignorant outsiders as yelling...I'll be the first to admit my flaws, and the uniqueness and craziness that is my family...but I'm the only one that can say that, if you're not part of the family, believe me, you're not allowed to call us out! we'll be brutally honest with each other, and to others, but thats our claim...thats just how it is. my loud jersey crazy Italian family. This Sunday I was particularly looking forward to going home because it had been sooo long & my nephew Paul Brandon was going to be there& I really wanted to see my mom (&dad too)...sometimes I feel like my family feels like I left parents always tell/ask/demand that I move back home, &tell me how much easier my life would be, so on & so times it may seem a bit tempting, but for the most part not tempting at all! I have built a life that is still growing & unfolding & moving back to jersey, for me, would feel like I was going backwards...sooo apparently the highlight of the day would be that my Grandma Julie was making eggplant...this is what my mom had told me on the phone, "Jessica! Grandma wants to know if you're coming! Cause then she'll make eggplant for you." When that was said I almost felt as if it was my duty to go to jersey, I couldn't let my family down when there was the prospect of my Grandma making eggplant!
so I went, & there i was in Lyndhurst, home of the best Italian pastries in jersey, home to my Grandmother's perfect cooking, & home to my small town dreams...I brought with me some leftovers from Saturday night's feast, my insecurities, & of course all of my laundry.
after incessant hugs, questioning by my Dad about how my car is running, how much gas did my car have, does the heat in my car work, why is the gas tank so low, why is my car so messy, & the questioning of my questionable love life, I retreated downstairs to see my Grandma....what started off by inquiring about her famous pizza dough recipe turned into an all day event...She was happy to have my time I remember my mom telling me that my Grandma had said to her, "Its so nice to have Jessica home again," hoping I hadn't forgotten them...Grandma told me the very simple recipe from her memory, & then excitedly offered to make the dough with me at that moment, & show me all the intricacies & specifics of exactly how she mixes the dough, the way she turns it in and beats, & kneads it with her weathered you have to have just the right amount of to oil the pizza pans her & my Grandpa used that I seem to remember from birth...her eyes lit up as she explained everything in great detail & as I peppered her with questions...once the dough was put aside to rise, she took out her 2 two very old tins, filled with scraps of paper scrawled with various recipes for cakes, cookies, bearnaise (sp?) sauce, rice pudding, easter meat pie...just to name a few...we spent time poring over these recipes, I faithfully jotted down what interested little Paul was there with his own pen&paper pretending to also be taking notes, repeating everything we said...I was joyful to be spending this amazing quality time with my Grandma...we were both savoring the moment, & both thinking of my Grandpa Giulio...mixed in with the recipes was one of his newspaper clippings...a yellowed & tattered news page with his picture & a writeup of one of the restaurants he was a head chef at during his career...the restaurant mentioned was Villa Capri in Jersey City, & the article was dated from May 1972...some of the mentiones of Grandpa include...

"All the major dishes at the Capri are prepared individually by Julio (sp.) and it is his years of experience that turn ordinary food into fine Northern cuisine. His deft handling of foods coupled with an expert knowledge of ingredients make dining at the Capri a unique experience."..."In the kitchen, it is not infrequent to see guests standing side by side with Julio, feverishly scribbling down notes on cooking and recipes to be later tried at home."..."Perhaps the loving appreciation of his followers motivated Julio to request the "kitchen table"...Julio himself assumes personal responsibility for service at the table, which seats from 2 to 10 people. He greets his guests warmly, lights the tall candle, and invites them to order 'anything you want, I'll make for you.' Mother never treated you better...or cooked better."...

reading the clipping brought a flood of all the memories of Grandpa & how much I absolutely loved & respected him...if anyone ever thought someone to be close to perfect, he is the one person in my life that I saw that way...& I still see him that way...I could go on about him but I feel that would be another blog entirely & I could never even to begin to say enough about his great character & beautiful heart & insanely amazing cooking abilities...he loved his family, & as his only granddaughter, I looked to him as my hero...he is one of the main inspirations for anything good that is in my life...


  1. Jess! this is so good!
    i can not agree or empathize more with the sentiments of moving back home, and yet, here i am. i am trying to be positive, and keep going. the places that i have moved to in the past have kept me from seeing my familly for months on end, so i guess i am making up for all those biweekly or monthly visits in one fell swoop.

    i love your memories. and i love your writing style, i can almost hear your excited voice when you talk about the recipies, and everything else!
    i want to hug your grams.

    and make pizza with her. and you.



  2. I was able to visualize so much of this entry, Jess. What a blessed day you had with your gram. I miss mine like you miss your grandfather. She was my best friend.

  3. what a wonderful memory! I can relate def to the family feelings- but we have to move forward and still keep our families in our heart always- then we know we're doing the right things in life! xo

    I wish I had time like this with my grandmothers- but no one tells you to cherish every moment when you are a kid- b/c you think your grandparents will always be there.