2019: V… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Vongoles sauce over pasta
I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!
My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew. 2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on. 2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!
I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!
Vongoles “clams” over pasta
This pasta dish is from a friend at work who enjoys cooking… and it was delicious! My son makes almost the same dish but often throws in either chopped cherry tomatoes, or a can of crushed tomatoes; his dish is very similar, except he adds no butter or canned clams. All pasta dishes are made with garlic, olive oil, and parsley and then throw in whatever you’d like… cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli rabe… it’s all up to you! Our ancestors cooked with what they had in their pantry!
“Clam Cooking Memories”
Clams (Vongoles) were a big treat in my husband’s family, especially at Grandma Minnie’s house. Uncle Freddy was the official “clam digger” in the family, and living directly on Long Island Sound definitely helped. Freddie loved the water and often walked on the beach at low tide to dig for them… that was the best time, as they loved to burrow down in the muddy bottom. He’d stomp around with his feet until he saw water squirt up… that gave away their hiding places! A full basket was always brought to his mother to cook… but I always wondered if she was as excited to see them or not… as it meant a lot of work for her.
Besides cooking and serving the clams over pasta, Aunt Mary remembers the clam stand her brother Andrew had one summer at Savin Rock; he opened it with Uncle Frankie. Their stand was near the Beach Street pier… not far from their house.
Sadly… Uncle Andrew’s clam puff recipe was never written down…only in his head.
Clams were always the main attraction at the Fourth of July clambake at Aunt Carmel’s house in Bristol, Rhode Island every summer. The clams were gathered early in the morning and layered in seaweed, also from the beach… it helped to steam and cook everything. On top of the clams, they added potatoes, corn, hot dogs, sweet potatoes… and I’m told a big onion on top was a must. Aunt Carmel’s husband Tony had a large brick fireplace in his backyard where he did all the summer cooking… and the aroma of the foods had everyone anxiously anticipating the clambake to be uncovered.
Continue reading more of the A to Z… Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories
© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved