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  • Things Your Italian Grandma Never Told You But Should Have
    Part 1 of 2: Memories of Grandma

    Italian Memories

    by Cookie Curci

    Today, young women are learning their homemaking skills from domestic guru Martha Stewart, and getting their sage advice from Oprah Winfrey. But things were different for my generation; we learned our homemaking skills and our life lessons at our grandma's knee.

    Unfortunately, many of today's grandmas are too busy to pass on their life lessons and family traditions, as most are working at jobs outside the home. And, in many cases, grandma is known by her grandchildren as the lady who shows up on holidays and birthdays with a generous gift.

    To me, and to a generation of post war baby boomers, the name "Grandma" meant much, much more. She was the foundation of home and family, the matriarch from whom knowledge, generosity and personal sacrifice flowed. The years I spent with her were among my most rewarding, cherished and domestically education. Grandma came to this country as young immigrant, skilled in the old-world ways; she was keenly adept in self-reliance and running a household. At age 10, she knew how to create tender pasta and ravioli from a little water, flour and egg; by the age of 12 she could plow a field, pick the harvest and pluck a chicken for dinner. Grandma had to know these things, her survival in the old country depended on it.

    Grandma passed on these skills to her daughters and then to her grandchildren. Under her watchful eye we learned how to stretch the household budget by growing and preserving fruit and vegetables; we learned how to plant and sow our seedlings at exactly the right time of the month to get the best crops and how to use garden herbs for medicinal cures.

    One of my favorite memories was watching grandma in her kitchen preparing the nightly meal. I watched as she mixed a little flour, water and eggs to create long strands of tender pasta. A few minutes later, bowls of steamy spaghetti, bathed in rich tomato sauce and covered with grated Parmesan cheese, was set upon the dinner table.

    They say the two best things you can give your child are roots and wings. I guess my grandmother came under the category of "roots", but her wisdom also gave me "wing's". Through her gardening skills she taught me many things. She knew instinctively the bean sprouts that were destined to grow and those that wouldn't make it. She would say, "Observe the ones that do not change or grow, they will die- change and growth generates life" She encouraged me to apply this philosophy to my own life as well.

    Part 2: Grandma's Garden and Cure Alls
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