Families from Marano Marchesato, Cosenza, Calabria

Holiday Traditions
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The following is a chain of mail on the Marano mailing list, instigated by Louise Jiuliani in November 1999.  Pour yourself a glass of wine or cup of coffee, grab a cookie, and enjoy the read ...

From:  Louise Juliani          

Hi everyone,
I've missed hearing from you so thought I would start a thread. The holidays  will soon be upon us and I'm wondering if some of the family customs we have  are shared by your families. Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head ( I don't know if the food items are spelled correctly):

Bacala that great cod dish in tomato sauce we ate on Christmas eve
Lupini a yellow kidney shaped bean served cold as a snack, you eat them by  popping them out of thier skins.
Scalidi a delectable honey dunked cookie formed on a small stick and fried.  They are made mainly with egg yolks and melt in your mouth.

Midnight mass Is that an Italian or an American custom?

My oldest Aunt held the Christmas eve festivities and then we spent Christmas  day with our individual families. I think we would have gone to Nana's but  she lived with another of my aunts.

Well let me know if you share these customs or have others you think may have originated in MM.

Happy Thanksgiving, Louise Juliani

From:  [email protected]  Date:  Sat Nov 20, 1999  10:44 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

Dear friends/cousins (I'm guessing that most of us ARE),
Yes, the foods you mentioned were regularly on our Christmas table. Though we "fasted" on Christmas eve, those foods are the ones I miss the most.  I don't know what these were called, but I sure loved 'em--can anyone tell me  what these are called and/or have the recipes?

A fried bread that was either shaped like a donut or filled with anchovies.
Cold pasta with anchovy sauce.
Cold broccoli in a vinegarette.

My (non-Calabrese/Italian) Mother really loved a pastry that was filled with  raisins, nuts and other goodies, fried, then dipped in honey.

When I was a child, my Dad always hosted Christmas Eve dinner at our home in Kenosha. Then on Christmas Day we would go to Chicago and share Christmas  dinner with my "Grandma and Grandpa Greco," their children, and  grandchildren. (They weren't really my grandparents, but, my Dad's  relationship with "Grandpa" went back many years and they may have been cousins. Or, perhaps, they became acquainted in this country and were simply  close enough to feel like family.) During the afternoon we would always  travel to Indiana Harbor to spend the evening with my Dad's brother and his  wife, Uncle Pete and Aunt Connie. Only my Dad and his brothers, Pietro and Serafino, (Uncle Sam lived in Kentucky) were in this country at that time and  I think this was kind of a sad time for them.

Some years later, after my Dad's nephews came over from "the old Country,"  our Christmas meals were always at my cousin's (Fiorino and his wife, Elvira)  home in Kenosha. At that time they lived on 20th avenue near Mount Carmel  Church and most of my many Ruffolo and DeBartolo cousins shared either or  both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner with us. We started to eat at  about 6:00 in the evening and finished up in time to leave for midnight mass  at Mt. Carmel. As a college student, I used to joke with my dorm-mates that I  had to start "training" in early December for the huge quantities of food  that I would consume when I went to Kenosha for the Christmas holidays.  Christmas Day was food all day long. The big meal was in the early afternoon,  but I don't remember that dining room table any way but full of food from the  time we started dinner until late in the evening. You name it, we had it. It  makes my mouth water just to write about it!!

Thanks for starting this thread, Louise. And, please, anyone with recipes,  would you share?

Mary Jane 

From:  Diane <[email protected]>  Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  9:11 am Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

I think we all should send in our family receipts. I have only a few since my relatives all make them for me at xmas.  It would be a wonderful way for us to keep some tradition going.

Thanks  Diane Belmonte Patterson

From:  Diane <[email protected]>  Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  9:17 am Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

I remember the dishes you spoke about. I think it would be wonderful if we all sent in our recipes. There was nothing like xmas at my grandpa Belmonte I miss it very much.

Speaking of holidays to you remember a Easter pancake that was fried made out of flour, water, Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, and parmesan cheese. It was great, I do have that receipte and the one for the cookies made with the Muscatel wine then fried and dipped in honey.  I also have the one for the cookies made mostly with the eggs that you spoke about.  I hope we can get a receipt chain going.

Diane Belmonte Patterson

From:  [email protected]  Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  8:12 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

Dear Mary Jane et al,

Oh how I loved that fried dough with the anchovie. My family called them  cuderiti with a hard "c". Don't know if that is anywhere near the spelling. The dough is a potatoe dough but I don't think I have a recipe. I'll have to  look. I would appeciate any recipes that people are willing to share. I  love hearing about other families traditions.


From:  [email protected]  Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  8:17 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

Dear Diane et al,

The Easter pancake is a frittatta. Lisa and I drooled talking about them at  Easter this past year. No one made tham like my Aunt Oakley (hows that for  an americanization of Aquilina!). I've made some from recipes but none as  good as hers.


From:  Lisa Perkins <[email protected]>  Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  9:35 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

Dear Louise, Mary Jane, Diane and you other shy-guys and gals,

This conversation is NOT what I need for my willpower as these holiday parties start happening - but then again maybe we can surprise our hosts and hostesses when we bring an ours d'ouvres a-la Maranese!

My mother made the crudite (but we couldn't remember what they were called either) and I will get the recipe from her. I remember some having anchovy inside but others with cheese.

Another tradition for the holidays that I remember was baked chestnuts. We would put them on a baking sheet, stab knives in them, then bake them. The old folks ate them, not us young "peech-a-deeds" (whatever that meant?)

All I know is that I never ate turkey on Thanksgiving until I met my Irish husband. While the turkey was often made as an accompaniment (probably italian style), I much preferred the main dish - lasagna.

My grandmother would layer her lasagna with teeny tiny meatballs, rather than just plain ground beef like I often see today. She would also layer in slices of hard boiled egg.

My favorite culinary tradition was the antipasto trays. I still love the fatty salamis like soprasata, cappicola, mortadella and even provolone and fontanella cheese. For some reason, I remember it being taboo to make sandwiches with these meats, although it was suggested to eat these meats with a slice of crusty bread (just not bitten at the same time, I guess.) Being the rebel that I am, I make big submarine sandwiches with these items today and my kids (ages 5 and 7) love them and refer to them as "special sandwiches."

While my Christmas holiday tradition greatly evolved from the ways of my childhood, I remember them with longing that brings a tear to my eye. I too remember my grandmother Gelsominia Barbieri's dining room table packed every inch with food. Unfortunately I was too young to appreciate it. All I cared for was pasta with butter (I called them "looloos".)  I remember the tall bottle of Galliano liqueur, you know the one that is like 3 feet tall? I remember the huge jugs of red wine. I believe the brand name of choice was "Fortissimo."

I remember the "fasting" (Ha!) on Christmas eve all right; it seemed to me that we at everything possible as long as it did not once have legs.

As I sign off, I think of all my loved ones whom I wish could be part of this correspondence .....

Happy Holidays to you all! (I feel like we have shared a bit of them together now)

Your likely cousin, Lisa

From:  Francesca Nudo <[email protected]>  Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  9:58 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] holiday cookies, etc.

Well, just to chime in, the fried doughnut-like things you ate that were filled with anchovies were "guddurieddu", and my mother's and grandmother's were ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. As were their scaliddi, which my mother made by 'stringing' them on a knitting needle and then dipping them in honey. She also made a very dense xmas cookie called a 'turdiddu', which was made of flour, and i think butter, but no eggs, and then they were dipped in wine. We also had taralli and pastasecche. I posted the recipes to the links section of my family's egroup. I'm rushed right now, but I promise to put them up on the Marano links, but only if y'all promise to put up your recipes as well!

Although Christmas was very big, there was something about Christmas Eve that I liked better. My family was not very religious, so we did not go to Midnight Mass (or any other Mass, for that matter!) but we had a huge fish dinner on Christmas Eve, with fried perch, a hot pasta dish with anchovies, and of course, baccala. We ate lots of 'mandarini' (mandarin oranges, which to me is the true smell of Christmas), and then before we went to my aunt's house to celebrate some more, my Sicilian grandfather would put out some mandarini and a bottle of wine for 'u bummunieddu' ('il bambino'). The idea was that the Christ child would come in the night and would need something to eat -- and I guess a good bottle of wine to wash down the mandarini! I still follow this ritual every year and think fondly of my grandfather while I do it.

Oooh, I can't wait!


From:  [email protected]  Date:  Sun Nov 21, 1999  11:43 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

 Dear Hungry Cousins--

Ahhhh, the cappicola. For years I've dreamt about that wonderful  flavorful...meat? salami? Then, two months ago, I moved to Kansas City and down the street was a supermarket by the name of "Cosentino's." And, since  Cosentino was the last name of one of my father's godsons, I hurried on down to see what the deli there had to offer. And there WAS cappicola! For any of  you that live in cities, or in an area where there are a number of Italians,  this may not be a big deal, but for a misplaced Calabrese, who's lived the  last thirty-odd years in rural central Missouri, I thought I'd died and gone  to heaven!!

I, too, remember the chestnuts, Grandpa Greco, and Christmas Day. Everyone  would wait, close by, for roasted chestnuts to come out of the oven. They  were available to the kids, just like those white bean-like things (my  apologies for forgetting, so quickly, what they're called) that you popped  out of the skin, but most of us wanted no part of either. They (the  chestnuts, not the beans) sure did smell good, though!

We also had lasagna on Christmas day, so full of ricotta and mozarella cheese  and those tiny meatballs (ours, too, had the hard-boiled eggs) that it must  have weighed 20 pounds!! No turkey for us, either, though I seem to recall  there was some type of roasted meat.

Those are, indeed, incredible memories. Yes, I'd give a lot to see Grandma  and Grandpa Greco again. And to sit there next to my Dad at the dining room table while he patiently cracked nuts for me to nibble on while the adults spoke in Italian of things unknown. I was the first, and only, of my  generation to be born in this county. And the only one at the table that  didn't speak the dialect. Though I couldn't understand more than a very few words, I loved the energy. The lightning quick, staccato words, punctuated by  loud laughter and hands slamming the table to emphasize a point. And every  once-in-a-while, someone would turn to me, and ask in English, did I want a  bit more of anything that suited my fancy?

Munge, Munge (Please, someone, correct my spelling!)

Mary Jane

From:  Diane <[email protected]>  Date:  Mon Nov 22, 1999  11:29 am Subject:  [maranofamilies] HOLIDAYS

Well Paesanos here I think is the first recipe.

I too remember fondly the holidays at my grandfathers house. I remember all the food staying on the table all night and everyone stopping by. I remember one of my aunts saying "I just love Christmas, everyone comes over and you get to kiss them" How right she was. I too remember the pasta with the anchovy sauce and everyone talking Italian and I didn't understand it but got the general idea of what was being said. I always told everyone that my relatives "talked funny".

I truly enjoyed my trip to Italy, I loved seeing all the people out walking at night and all the men standing on the corner waving their arms and talking very excitedly.

My one true wish is to go back to Italy and live for awhile and learn the language and feel my roots. This past fall we took a trip to New York and I made sure I visited Ellis Island. I was amazing to stand there and image my grandfather and grandmother seeing what I saw. They were so young and if they hadn't come I would not be here now. How brave they were.

See the recipe's that Diane Submitted on the Maranesi Recipe pages

Easter Pancakes
Italian Cookies Made with Muscatel Wine

Does anyone have a good recipe for Calazone????

From:  "Francesca Nudo" <[email protected]>  Date:  Mon Nov 22, 1999  1:29 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies]

I've just created a recipes folder in the vault and have added my grandmother's recipe for scaliddi. Diane, your recipes look great! Can you add them to the list? Or would you like me to?  As for the rest of you cugini, please add them in and then send us a message saying so.  Can't wait to try the variations on scaliddi!


Thanks for the recipe. Can't put my fingers on my mom's scalidi recipe.  Here is one of my favorites: Ravioli 


From:  Diane <[email protected]>  Date:  Mon Nov 22, 1999  9:06 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: HOLIDAYS

Thank you Louise. I can't wait to make them, perhaps that will be our xmas dinner this year.  Send any family recipes that you have. They are the best. You would not believe the cookbooks I have. I have tried to talk me husband into buying a small restaurant but to no avail.


From:  Peter L Belmonte <[email protected]>  Date:  Mon Nov 22, 1999  9:32 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

Hello Fellow Maranesi, Well, this thread has me very hungry. My recollections are similar to everyone elses--I thing Fanny has the pronunciation down very well for some of the delicacies. I don't remember eating the anchovy sauce on pasta, nor do I remember my family having the bacala--although it was plentiful at Tenuta's store in Kenosha! We didn't fast on Christmas eve--and we changed somewhere along the line from opening presents on Christmas day to Christmas eve. Mass was either Christmas eve or day, sometimes the midnight mass. Dinner on Chirstmas day--usually lasagna, roast beef, and turkey, plus the usual salad and nuts and fruit. Pastries too. Scalidi were plentiful from early December through New Years. I don't remember how my family made them!

We spent Christmas at either our home (with Grandma Belmonte, nee Dodaro, from Marano Marchesato, and Belmonte aunts and uncles) or with our Spizzirri grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins on 56th Street in Kenosha. I didn't get to meet my grandpa Belmonte, he died before I was born.  It was usually pandemonium at the Spizzirri house (usually my Uncle Jack's house at the corner of 56th street and 20th, near the church).

Cousins everywhere. Later we got together with the DeBartolos who married into the Spizzirris. What a clan. And most of it was done in the basement. Did you all eat and cook in the basement? Anyway, I'm not sure of which of these great delicacies (and I hated the guddurriddu, not too crazy about frittatta, now I want both!) is specific to Marano, but I bet most are at least solidly Calabresi. Any inputs?? Does anyone remember the Maranesi sausage making? We used to do it at my uncle Jack's--great stuff. My sisters and I were thinking of starting it up again..... Take care, Happy Thanksgiving! Mangia! Mangia! 


From:  Lisa Perkins <[email protected]>  Date:  Mon Nov 22, 1999  10:19 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Basement Cooking

Dear Pete, Come to think of it, my relatives who had a house, rather than an apartment, did have a kitchen in the basement. That is where we ate and "partied". I have one relative who never used their regular kitchen and from the looks of it none of the upstairs was used.......alot of plastic covers...remember the plastic carpet runners! Remember the lamps with the "water" that trickled down like a fountain?


From:  "Anthony Molinaro" <[email protected]>  Date:  Thu Jul 22, 1999  11:30 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Holiday Customs

 It's "mangia! mangia!"

My wife's family still celebrates Christmas Eve with a big fish/seafood feast. We have scallops, mussels, crab, shrimp, calamari, oysters, snails, linguine with clam sauce, manicotti, cheese ravioli, pasta with garlic and olive oil. They used to also serve sea urchins and eel (eeeeek!) The table is so full, we can't see any part of the table cloth.

Tony Molinaro

From:  [email protected]  Date:  Mon Nov 22, 1999  11:42 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Basement Cooking

Lisa, My aunt and uncle had the same arrangement in the basement, with a very large wood stove for cooking, canning, and anything else you'de want to do. We ate  outside, and theyre house was huge. I couldn't help myself, I had to reply,  even though I'm not Pete. 


From:  Diane <[email protected]>  Date:  Tue Nov 23, 1999  12:03 pm Subject:  [maranofamilies] Re: Basement Cooking

Lisa, My daughter still has the lamp with the trickle of water like a waterfall.

My grandmother had a full kitchen in the basement, also a wine cellar, bathroom etc.


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