Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Adventures of an Italian Food Lover...

Adventures of an Ital Food Lover bk jkt[2]

I had first heard of this book while reading my beautiful and talented partner-in-crime's post regarding how a recipe from the book brought back wonderful memories of her grandmother.. the way she explained the book made me think of it not so much as a cookery book, but more of a book full of precious memories and celebrations of friends and family - through food. After I commented on her post, I immediately clicked over to Amazon to get this book up on my wishlist.. I waste no time, kids.. NO TIME.

Imagine my surprise and sheer delight just a few days later when I receive an e-mail from Ivonne with the subject "So don't hurt me..." -'kay well the surprise was there, and then there was a lil alarm, followed by "okay what the hell did we get ourselves into now?" before the sheer delight kicked in.. heee.

And I quote:

"I volunteered you for a book event."
"Since we’re sisters I figured I could do that without asking you first. Don’t ya’ love me???"


Yeah, I do love her. =) I, of course, was tickled freakin' pink to be involved with this event because I was more than curious to read this book. After all, I had it added to my wish list within 20 seconds after reading her post doncha know. A week or so later I received it in the mail and that night I started to read it..

I know we aren't suppose to "review" the book exactly, but I have to say to anyone who is thinking about buying it.. go for it. It's a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each and every friend she wrote about and how the recipes came about.

While trying to figure out what I was going to make, and the decision was a difficult one, I couldn't help but to keep thinking about a time in my life when I was 12 years old and my youngest sister had just been born. Now you are going to think this silly and well.. kind of strange, but bear with me.. is that bear?? or bare?? Wait.. it can't be bare - this is a PG-13 blog.

ANYHOO.. my father had picked myself and my younger sister up at my auntie's house after the baby was born to take us to their best friends' house.. this doesn't make as much sense to me now, why we didn't go see my mom and the baby, but I went with it pretty easily that day.. so we get over there and his friends are half looped as they'd been "celebrating" her arrival.. On the table was this pink stuff that was shaped like a fish sitting on a platter with a bunch of crackers spread around it and a butter knife stabbing it in it's head. Mrs. R urged me to try spreading some of the pink dead (obviously) stuff on a cracker but I didn't want anything to do with it as I was completely grossed out to the max ohmygod. Okay, so apparently my morbid fascination got the best of me, and I tried a wee schmear of it on a cracker and I remember my eyes lighting up and going back for a bigger schmear of the pink dead thing. Any thought of my newly born baby sister was completely gone from memory.. all I wanted to do was eat this stuff - it was so good!

Put a platter of salmon mousse shaped into a fish in front of me now and I would most definitely turn my nose up at it. I have no good reason why.. maybe the thought of ground fish kinda squicks me in my old age.. maybe it's because my youngest sister was spoiled 100 times more than I was. ;) I don't know - but on the day of her birth, all I truly remember is being at Mr. & Mrs. R's house stuffin my pie-hole with processed salmon and, I'm sure, a boatload of mayo.

Why the hell would I even mention this right now?? Because believe it or not - that is one of my earliest true food memories - oh sure, I remember the important stuff - the first time I tried lobster for one. But it was more than the actual food, it was the love and celebration and feeling completely safe with the company I was in. Mr. R has long since passed and I don't speak to Mrs. R anymore - fate, I guess.. and my dad.. one of the few times I remember him being completely and unabashedly excited, thrilled, happy and gushing. My God that man loved his girls.

Little Meatball

Well there is no salmon mousse in Faith Willinger's Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. So I went with another item that is near and dear to my heart.. meatballs! My family has made the same meatball recipe since my grandmother's mother taught her eons ago. My grandmother taught my dad, my dad taught my mom and my mom taught me.. that's alotta meat-ah-balls! Our balls use the same ingredients (mostly) of our sauce so they are a good pairing together - but heck, no one can have just one meatball recipe in their repertoire now can they? So I was pretty jazzed about making these.

As always, when I'm rolling my meatballs memories come flooding back from the days of our restaurant business.. the hundreds upon hundreds of meatballs that were hand made every other day. The scooping, the rolling, the greasy hands and mucky fingers after about your 50th ball. Ugh.. the standing in the same position for hours.. that was the worst of it. But you know what? I'd give anything to be back in that kitchen standing next to my mom rollin' meatballs and shifting my weight from one screaming foot to the other. To bend my back to and fro' every hundred ball or so, just to work out the kinks. Listening to my dad on the other side of the huge butcher block table, whistling while he cleaned the beef tenderloin.. the heat.. the smells.. the royal pain in the ass it is to work for the public.. I miss it all and I remember it all - and it only takes (these days) 3 lbs. of ground round, some bread crumbs, cheese, herbs and a few eggs and I'm right back there where I belong.

Little Meatball

A huge thanks to Ivonne (my heart), Cathy of A Blithe Palate and Faith, for including me in this special event.. for it was much more than enjoying a book.. it was many reasons and ways to revisit my favorite (and not so favorite) memories.


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Comments on "Adventures of an Italian Food Lover..."


Blogger Helene said ... (7/23/2007 12:47 AM) : 

I feel like I am part of your family now that you shared the meatballs and sauce with me. I was watching you while you were shaping them and I knew you were thikig about your dad and the generations before him. Thank you for including me, and thank you for sharing yet another great memory of your family.


Blogger Peabody said ... (7/23/2007 12:57 AM) : 

Maybe you could make salmon mousse be Italian :)
I would love to see you make meatballs.
Oh and I wrote back to you only my blog...the ankle is so-so...this weekend it was crap. :( I think I stood on it too much.


Blogger Meeta K. Wolff said ... (7/23/2007 3:11 AM) : 

Wonderful post and thank you for sharing this with us. The book really looks like it#s a one to get my hands on.


Blogger Belinda said ... (7/23/2007 9:26 AM) : 

You know, I've never made meatballs! Can ya believe it?! And even more than the way you make the meatballs sound like a critical part of a tried and true recipe collection, I love the way you connect food memories to family memories, and the recollections you share of your parents and sisters. :-) Oh...and now I have another book to add to the list of gotta reads!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/23/2007 10:15 AM) : 

Those meatballs look amazing, yes, they do ;)
And I loved the family memories, especially the one about the shaping meatballs for hours with your family in the restaurant, even if your ankles don´t remember it as fondly!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/23/2007 12:22 PM) : 

What a great story about your dad!Best part is, I thought of my dad too while I was reading your post.I remember him in the kitchen of our restaurant and me wondering when dinner will be ready. Those meatballs sure look yummy !


Blogger breadchick said ... (7/23/2007 2:54 PM) : 

WOW! I so feel like I was sitting in the kitchen with you, sipping a vino and chatting about everything under the sun at a million miles a minute (which you know is EXACTLY what would be going on right!) I am so making these meatballs as the next recipe from this book.


Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said ... (7/23/2007 4:47 PM) : 

The meat balls were lovely for our great escape. The book really makes me ready for another trip to Italy.
Amazing how certain foods with the attendant moves and smells bring so many good (some less) with them.
I did have fun with it.


Blogger Barbara said ... (7/23/2007 6:08 PM) : 

Such wonderful food inspired memories of your family.


Blogger Chris said ... (7/23/2007 7:43 PM) : 

lis - Fab post! I loved it. Thanks for sharing! And your meatballs, how about sharing some over here? Hee! Please ma'am, I'd like some more!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/23/2007 8:02 PM) : 

Oh! I have got tears in my eyes!!! What a beautiful post! I just knew that you would take to this book even though I have to admit I was a little worried when I just volunteered you without asking first!

The salmon mousse story was so cute. I've never tried salmon mousse and can't really say that I would, but I'd have your meatballs any day!

Thanks so much for taking part, my sweetie!


Blogger Lis said ... (7/24/2007 8:56 AM) : 

Helene - You are part of the family. =)

Gracie - Hmm.. Italian salmon mousse.. it has possibilities.. hehe I'm sorry about your ankle.. wishing you didn't have to go through this. =(

Meeta - Thanks honey

Belinda - We MUST do something about that! If you're interested, e-mail me at and I'll send you the recipe for the meatballs in the book.. they were awesome =)

Marce - I'm so glad you like the photos. *grin*

Sis - Aww am so happy my story made you think of your daddy! :D

Mary - I feel confident that one day you WILL be sitting in my kitchen sipping vino. =)

Tanna - me too! =)

Barbara - Thank you =)

Chris - I'd give anything to make you some meatballs!!

Ivonne - Thank YOU for signing me up.. I loved it. =) xoxo


Blogger kellypea said ... (7/24/2007 2:42 PM) : 

Lovely post. Great story, outstanding photos making me want, want, want Pah-sektty and mehballs for dinner tonight. Y-U-M.

The salmon mousse story is hilarious. I think I made it for a brunch once. It was actually pretty good, but none of us ate it. Cute little round molds, perfect garnish. I'm sure my garbage disposal love it after it sat in the fridge for a couple of days.


Blogger Callipygia said ... (7/24/2007 3:22 PM) : 

How can you resist something pink and shaped like a fish- that salmon mousse stuff is addictive! Thanks you for sharing the loving post of meatball making with the family. Were these meatballs v different?


Blogger Cheryl said ... (7/25/2007 9:30 AM) : 

I freakin' love meatballs. I demand you UPS some to me to arrive tomorrow. Its okay if the sauce makes the envelope soggy, I can lick that too.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/26/2007 2:30 AM) : 

Yes! Meatballs! They are the key to peace on earth, as far as I'm concerned. How can you be in a bad mood with great meatballs--and boy howdy, those look great!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/26/2007 10:50 AM) : 

What a great post! It truly brought me back to my childhood. My parents ran a pizzeria, where my mom did ziti, meatballs, the usual suspects. I was there every day after school, in the back kitchen with her, and making meatballs was a constantly occuring event. Even after we sold the pizzeria, meatballs were a staple sunday dinner ... my brother gerry and I often distracted my mom so one of us could steal the just-friend meatballs. Those were the days.

Thanks for sharing your story. It's nice to be part of this event with you. Now I'm gonna go make meatballs! :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/26/2007 10:51 AM) : 

hee -- i meant "just-FRIED". :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7/28/2007 12:17 AM) : 

The closeup of those meatballs seriously has me wanting a bite of one right now...and it is 11:15pm. Not meatball time. Now I must convince my tummy of this!


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