My family was part of the great arrival of immigrants that came to the shores of the United States in the early 1900s. I now live in Canada. Enjoying the Canadian culture but also nurturing my own family ‘s traditions. An Uncle once said ‘never to forget where we came from,’ and so we can ‘build upon our family.’ Wise words from a wise man.
Macaroni aka Pasta
The word ‘macaroni’ is synonymous with the word ‘pasta,’ at least where I come from. The use of the phrase ‘macaroni and gravy’ is prevalent in the eastern seaboard region around New York City as well as Chicago. Those were the places most of the Italians settled around 1876-1920, during the ‘Great Arrival.’ Ellis Island, became a legend as the port of entry. The Statue of Liberty became a shining beacon because the immigrants entering passed beneath her shadow. The words of “The New Colossus, ” written by Emma Lazarus, and engraved on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty, called out to all whom entered America.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cried she
With silent lips “Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
*The twin-cities referred to we’re New York and Brooklyn
The Italian immigrants contributed greatly to their new land. They brought a depth of culture which helped shape America to become a symbol of freedom and opportunity. America was truly the land of opportunity. One of the greatest contributions the Italians made to America was a culinary one. Food is the music for our bodies, and we all love to let it play!
Back to Macaroni
The word macaroni was taken from a type of pasta called maccheroni. Macceroni is a 2-inch (or longer) tubular pasta which was popular in the Calabrian and Sicilian regions of Italy. Incidentally, most of the Italian immigrants arriving at that time were from these regions. Language was an obstacle and colloquialisms were born, and we all know New York is famous for colloquialisms. 😉 Fuggedaboutit?
This Sunday gravy tradition continues to this day because ‘Sunday Gravy‘ always felt like a special occasion, friends and relatives would all eat with us. I loved it!
Different kinds of pasta was served for special occasions, like Pasta con Sarde or liguine con vongole on Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day Baked Cavatelli was a favorite. Holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving let us have manicotti, cannelloni and sometimes stuffed shells or Lasagna!
Pasta Pasta Pasta
There are so many different types of pasta and styles of sauces, I wouldn’t know where to begin. I will only include my favorites, and so it seems fitting to start off with our Italian-American tradition of ‘Sunday Gravy.’ Check out our recipe here!