Whenever I cook with a Nonna or am lucky enough to have a friend share a cherished family recipe, the first question I ask is, “what makes this recipe so special?” Every time, the answer is simple; because my Nonna made it for me. It’s not a fancy ingredient or special cooking technique that keeps a recipe in a family for generations. Instead, it’s the fondness we have for the person that first made it for us, and how she continued to make it for us, again and again, because we loved it.
This feeling was so evident when I spoke to Sandi Piacenza. A lovely woman who took the time to tell me her family’s immigration story from Italy. Sandi was born in the USA but her mother Frances Carolluzzi Forlenzo came from Italy and raised her and her two brothers in Stamford, Connecticut. I love Frances’ story because it truly embodies why so many Italians came to America. Frances’ parents dreamt of a better life for their daughter. They saved up their money to send her here on her own. At the ripe age of 16, she embarked for a new life. Arriving in Ellis Island, Sandi proudly told me how her mother’s name is engraved on the wall. She married Sandi’s father, Sabitino, at 17 ½.
This recipe was taught to Frances by her mother in law, Rose Dellacorte. The woman she credited with teaching her how to cook. Lucky for me, Sandi made sure to observe her mother and write the recipe down. And the best part, Sandi’s daughter Natalie is the one to bring it to my attention. It’s her favorite Christmas Eve dish. Therefore, this recipe has been in this family over 100 years. The family jokes how their ancestors would have to get the dandelions needed for this savory egg dish. Now, when I make it, I feel like I can picture the Nonna sending the children out to pick them all over the hills of Campania.Read More