film & videos

  food & wine
  italian american

  free email
  link directory

new york
events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

san francisco
events, links, forum

los angeles
events, links, forum

about us

you can help us!
We're an all volunteer website and need your help to keep going. Here are five ways you can contribute:
1 Donate
2 Buy something
3 Submit a story
4 Volunteer
5 Advertise

get in gear!
New in the gift shop, logo wear and use items!
  PLEASE NOTE: We are experiencing unexpected technical difficulties caused by our web host. We apologize for the inconvenience. During your visit you may experience service and page interruptions - we are in the process of fixing everything and hope to be fully back on our feet soon.

easter in scalea
by Jill Terry

see also...
Easter in Scalea
On the Calabrese Stove
Glossary of Calabrian and Southern Italian Foods
What do you know about Umbria?
Visit Calabria
Visit other Italian regions
Jenny and her boyfriend Giovanni entered the house in Scalea quietly, though there was no need for much stealth. The conversation around the Easter dinner table was certainly loud enough to drown out any other noise. Nevertheless, the couple had come this far without being discovered and didn't want to ruin their record now.

Giovanni's mother saw them first. "Giovanni!" She yelled, rising from the table.

Squeals and howls surrounded the embracing mother and son while Jenny hung back toward the doorway, smiling and uncertain.

"All the way from America!"

"Another great son rises on Easter!"

"Gio! Come sit down and eat!"

When Giovanni could break free of his mother's shower of adoration, he introduced his fiancee to everyone at the table: father, brother, two sisters, two uncles, one grandmother, and one grandfather. Their eyes were still wet from the joy of seeing Giovanni, so they greeted her with great affection.

Jenny joined them at the table and realized how hungry she'd been from the transatlantic flight. She and Giovanni feasted on succulent, juicy sausages, pure cheeses, fresh vegetables, and large loaves of warm bread. The family was impressed by Jenny's knowledge of Italian and warmed to her instantly.

"La salsiccia e' squisita!" Jenny exclaimed.

"We'll show you how Felicia makes them!" Giovanni's mother promised.

Sure enough, after the meal, Felicia led Giovanni and Jenny to the small, stone house next door, where sausages and proscuitto hung from the ceiling and scented the dark room with aromas Jenny had not experienced in even the best delicatessens. Felicia pointed out the different hunks of meat proudly, explaining how each was made and how the ingredients differed. "Do people come here to buy or do you bring it to market?" Jenny asked.

"Oh, good heavens!" Felicia laughed in Italian. "This meat is just for the family! It lasts a long time, so we use it as we need it."

"Most people in Calabria have some kind of food they cultivate or cook. The land l ends itself to it and economic conditions demand it."

Felicia inquired about the couple's flight from San Francisco, their intentions to marry, and what they liked to eat. And all the questions about America! What was Hollywood like? Did Jenny wear cowboy hats? Was it true that most families didn't even live near each other? She gave Jenny a hearty embrace and told Giovanni to take her to Angelina's to see the cheese.

"She sells her food," Felicia said, squeezing Jenny's arm and winking.

The couple followed the road a short ways until they arrived at the low structure nestled beneath a large tree. Cows, pigs, goats, and sheep roamed about as if they were vacationers at a resort. Inside, the dour-looking Angelina hovered over a pot large enough for a human to sit in comfortably.

"Zia Angelina! Buono giorno!" Giovanni said loudly, but respectfully. The large woman turned to them and grunted as she straightened. She ambled over to Giovanni to kiss him and look at him with pride. Giovanni introduced Jenny and Angelina nodded politely.

"I wanted to show Jenny how you make the cheese, Zia."

"Ah. Come look then."

Angelina made most of the ricotta for the town of Scalea, but she also supplied much of the pecorino variations, as well. The room was very cold and Jenny shivered involuntarily.

"It's cold. The room must be dark and cold to get good cheese," Angelina explained.

"My aunt gets up at 3:00 a.m. every day to tend to the cheese. She works very hard."

Angelina nodded in silent agreement as she handed them small samples of the freshest ricotta Jenny had ever tasted.

The couple thanked her and headed out for an after dinner walk. Jenny breathed the clean air deeply and let Scalea's peace and simplicity wash over her. She squeezed Giovanni's hand, knowing he'd understand the quiet joy she felt.


© 1998-2005 by unless otherwise noted