Take it away, Ellen!
The season of gift giving is upon us, and I think back to one of the kindest, most thoughtful life-altering gifts I have ever received. It happened many decades ago, when I was a horribly adolescent 15 year old girl. You know that age, when we spend our junior high years trying to find an identity, flailing about in a sea of confusion. The gift given to me by my Nana altered me on a cellular level and still reverberates in my heart to this day.
Nana was raised in the North End, Boston's Little Italy, where her parents had immigrated from southern Italy during the migration at the turn of the century. Life was full of hardships, so in her mid-twenties, Nana moved out to California. She left her Italian side behind except for her yearly trips back to Boston to see her paesani, her siblings, cousins, and friends.
Nana’s gift--when I was 15, she brought me to the North End where I met dozens of cousins, aunts and uncles I never knew existed. For the first time, I was wrapped in a blanket of Italian love and my Italian identity was born. We attended the Feast of Saint Anthony where I ate zeppole and walked down the streets of my ancestors.
Now, all these years later, I put this love into my blog, An Italian Dish. It’s a place to share travel stories, recipes and to pay tribute to my family.