As I reach this new phase of my life with the last of my kids planning her wedding, I wonder how I got here? I think it all started with a bunch of firsts:
I was the first born American in a huge Italian family.
I was the first to go to school without knowing a word of English.
I was the first in my family to eat canned spaghetti. (I had no choice because it was served at the school cafeteria. I had to eat it as the Catholic nun was glaring at me to swallow. I have to say it was the worst thing I ever had and so sad that mamma sent me to school without a bag lunch.)
I was the first to date a non- Italian ( It was a big revolt in the family over that first! There was even a family council over this and major discussions with a wooden spoon. Ouch!)
And I ended being the first to marry the non-Italian ( I fought hard and won. I think all my younger siblings and cousins should grovel at my feet for that. Because gasp! I broke the Italian seal of approval!)
The first to go to college.
The first to get a job that didn’t involve food. ( I became an accountant)
I was the first grandchild to take my Nonna for a drive in my car. (I drove her over the bridge twice because instead of getting off the ramp I continued back on the bridge. Nonna was wondering where we were going while she held on to her rosary beads. I lied and told her we had to take a detour while thinking I need to go to confession!)
Getting my car license really opened up my world of firsts. Because of it, I picked up Mexican take out. It was the first time I ate Mexican and introduced my mom and siblings to tortillas.
I had my first bagel at the Marist College cafeteria. I never tasted anything so delicious. Who knew that bread boiled and baked could taste so good!
Not only have I come a long way but I paved the way for the rest of my American born family! When I think of my own children I am proud that I made their childhood a little more normal than mine. Even what I keep in the refrigerator has changed big time. I go back to one odd memory of growing up. Of course, I didn’t realize it was odd because this is all my brother and I knew! On Saturday mornings whilst my parents slept my brother and I would slyly raid the fridge. Peering in with our eyes wide open, the fridge was an adventure! While Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon played in the background we grabbed a lemon to share, cutting it in half and poured salt over the it. We also grabbed the bottle of olives and helped ourselves to a few. Reaching in further or I should say as I reached in because being the oldest I had the longest reach, I would find glistening in the rear the red, green and yellow hot cherry peppers. Nick and I would grab forks and pierce a pepper each. If we were lucky there were leftover anchovies. What can I say? Was this weird? Or maybe there were other choices but our palates craved for what we knew I need to ask my children what snack did they sneak? I really do hope I gave them more normal options like bagels and cream cheese! Or maybe tortilla chips! Â In honor of my Saturday ritual with my brother, I am sharing our restaurant recipe of Chicken Scarpariello. It’s a little different than most recipes because we only used boneless chicken breasts. Hope you enjoy the hot cherry peppers as much as my brother and I do! Maybe you can put on Rocky and Bullwinkle and make it complete!
PS I love hot cherry peppers so much that I make my own every summer! I pickled them with black peppercorns, bay leaves and peeled garlic this year! Also Scarpariello means shoemaker. Don’t ask! It makes no sense to me why it’s called that.
See our Chicken Scarpareiello recipe.