N got tricky. I had a hard time coming up with a food memory that began with N. Perhaps I was starting to feel fatigued with this Blogging A to Z Challenge. I was prying open pistachio shells pondering the work it takes to get to the meat of a nut. Ah—I was taken back to Sundays and holidays at Grandma’s in her Brooklyn home.
There was always company. Antipasto started around 2:00. We sat down to dinner about 3:30 starting with macaroni then moving on to a roast or turkey and accompanied vegetables. After the hearty meal, a little reprieve was granted so dishes could be washed and leftovers sorted. A quartet of uncles played pinochle at one end of the dining table. A lanky child would lean into his father’s shoulder and they would whisper card strategies. Kids played board games or chased each other through the flat and up and down the stairs.
Coffee was brought out and boxes of pastries and a cake soon followed. A big bowl of assorted nuts was also placed on the table. Nutcrackers were passed around to open the walnuts, Brazilian nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.
An uncle would coach a scrawny kid to use his muscles but the small hands could barely wrap around the handles. Tackling the task with two hands and scrunching faces made little progress. A big kid would show off his walnut cracking strength with one hand on the crackers. The explosion of shells fragments and bits of nuts scattered on the table and floor.
I often wondered, why nuts? They were not necessary. No one was hungry. Perhaps nuts simply kept hands busy and mouths moving to extend conversations and postpone the day’s ending.
Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’ kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure. If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk. Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.