The kitchen was always the happiest place in my house as a child. Both of my parents are amazing cooks with different loves and specialties. My mom still makes the best chocolate chip cookies I know of to this day.
Most of my dad’s life has involved food in one way or another. He started off bagging groceries as a teen and has been in the industry since. When I was a little child he was a store manager, and then a bit later a sales representative for a food wholesaling company. Around the time I was 6 or 7 I began tagging along with him to work on Saturdays. Both of my parents worked Saturdays for extra cash and my dad’s job promised more fun than my mom’s office cubical.
There was an Italian family he knew who owned a grocery store in Hartford, CT. They needed the extra help and my dad needed the work, so for the next several years I spent my Saturdays having my face stuffed full of prosciutto behind the deli counter. The Italian Grocery family had 4 sons, and no daughters. So what this really means is that I got spoiled rotten by Mama Grocery. She was pretty critical in developing my love of fine chocolate. This also made me a remarkably obnoxious 8 year old. Over the years I spent my time playing in the back room, “pretending” to cook behind the deli, and occasionally being the cheese sample girl. The boys were a lot like brothers. They teased me, helped me out, and even informed me that Santa wasn’t real!
The real point of this story though, is how my “Italian” up-bringing came more from my non-Italian father and that grocery store, than from my mom’s sicilian heritage. For a large part of my formative years I was taken under the wing of a delightfully loud and classically American Italian immigrant family. I now have the recipes I learned growing up and a true love of food to show for it.