Alert
Close

Join the Drive to End Hunger! Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

Contests and
Sweeps

$10,000 Games Galore Sweepstakes

Sept. 3, 2014 - Oct. 14, 2014
Play AARP Games for a chance to win $10,000!
See official rules. 

Happiness
poll

most popular
articles

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed

What I Really Know

About Grandma's Cooking

Noni continues to feed her family in body and soul

En español | My grandmother — my Noni — was a modest woman, her white hair pinned in a bun and her dress buttoned at the collarbone. She spoke broken English, and food was how she communicated her love. We gathered in her kitchen in waves after each successive Sunday Mass let out. The cacophony of voices of aunts, uncles and cousins, along with the aroma of food, made it a feast before we had taken one bite.

See also: A grandmother's thrifty living touches others' lives.

An Italian grandmother who knew hunger as a child but filled her family with food and memories

Noni fed body and soul. — Courtesy of Cynthia Cima-Ivy

Noni fed everyone. There were plates of savory polpette (breaded fingers of ground meat and potatoes), hot slices of chewy focaccia, crisp triangles of breaded veal. In the fall she would offer figs from her tree, sun-dried in egg cartons on the back porch.

We had pesto before it became fashionable and ubiquitous. Family lore had it that during the Great Depression, the pungent smell of the pesto, thrown into the minestrone, would draw itinerant rail riders walking across the fields from the train tracks a quarter mile away. The hungry men would always be fed.

My grandmother knew hunger as a child in Italy, and she treasured the bounty of food this country provided. She remained thrifty and knew how to use all the cuts of meat, even the "exotic" ones, and she always planted a vegetable garden.

At home we used the American system of measured volumes, but Noni used the palm of her hand and the tips of her fingers. As kids we had the exquisite pleasure of making the oil-holding impressions in the flattened focaccia dough with our thumbs.

My son was born many years after my Noni died, but after his braces were finally removed, he requested that we make Noni's focaccia. Her foods are part of her legacy to us. His hands are bigger than mine now, but I will let him make the thumb holes, and we will think of my grandmother. She is feeding us still.

Your Turn! Tell us what you really know about high school reunions.
Email your essay of up to 400 words to whatiknow@aarp.org. Or mail it to "What I Really Know," AARP Bulletin, 601 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20049. Please include your name and a phone number or email address. Volume of submissions prevents us from responding to all of them.

You may also like: Build a strong relationship with your grandkids. >>

Cynthia Cima-Ivy is a reader from Menlo Park, Calif.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Cereal

Members can download and print coupons for cereals from Kellogg's®.

Grocery Coupon Center

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by Coupons.com.

membership schwanns discount

Members get double Schwan’s rewards on all online orders from Schwan's Home Service™.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.