This post is sponsored by FLYJOY; all opinions and stories are my own.
I have a soft spot in my heart for funny stories; my dad would always end our bedtime routines with a funny story about himself as a boy, usually getting into trouble with his brothers and sister, and they stand out as some of my favorite parts of the day. As we’ve all gotten older I’ve had the chance to listen to my aunt and uncle share their side of the story, which always had a new dramatic twist. Those larger-than-life memories are more cherished to me than pretty much any inanimate thing in the world; they are pieces of a much larger puzzle that spell out the lives of the people I love.
Some of the sweetest memories I have of my husband’s grandfather come from the simple sitting and listening to the stories he would tell. He was exactly what I thought an Italian grandfather would be like – loud, loving, a little cranky at times, full of good humor, a lover of good food, and an animated storyteller. One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received was him telling me my marinara tasted just like his mother’s, which made me so very proud.
Nate’s Papa would sit at the kitchen table for hours, telling us stories of Uncle John, who was actually his cousin but was called “Uncle” by my father-in-law and his sister. Apparently he was quite the character, and very much the hot-headed Italian living in New York who wasn’t afraid of anyone or anything. Hanging in the hallway at Papa’s house was a portrait of himself, John, and another cousin and goodness if they didn’t just look the part. I always thought that was really fun to look at the picture and wonder what kind of mischief those three got into this side of the pond. I have a feeling I only heard the tiniest percentage of it!
While our little family certainly doesn’t look the part, I feel that embracing our Italian heritage is fun and important. One day I hope to visit Vinchiaturo, where Papa’s family is from. I hope that we can show our boys not only the Italian culture and the way it is so deeply rooted in the things we eat, but just a larger perspective of the world in general. Sharing those stories of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers will be both explanations and reminders of who they are, and I can’t wait to see the way our two weave their own spectacular and legendary stories right alongside those of the men who have come before them.
When it comes to celebrating our heritage, I can’t think of any better explanation than food. Because Uncle John and Papa were every bit the Italians I imagined in my head, I knew that making Uncle John’s brasciole was the best way to taste where Nate’s family hails from. Sure, we’re a couple generations removed, but the reality is that the legacy of great food has snaked its way through both of our families until it reached us – and food is just how we roll.
Because I’m trying to be a good Italian heir I won’t be sharing Uncle John’s recipe; it’s just one of those things I’d like to keep specifically for our kids as they get older. I have dreams of making it together, perfecting their techniques, and then maybe one day they’ll use it to snag that special gal that will become my daughter. Who knows?
What I do know is that by tasting this little piece of their history my boys will begin to know part of their heritage from the inside out!
It also takes a while to cook, so while we waited we snacked on some FLYJOY bars. After making the sauce from scratch, pounding/searing/rolling the brasciole, and then cooking it for 2 hours? Well, let’s just say we got hungry in there. I love that I can cube up the bars and give them to my boys for easier eating. I also like that I can warm mine up in the microwave and top with a small sprinkle of chocolate chips to make a dessert-like snack that fills me up.
Here’s to years of learning more about who we are and fueling well all along!
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