Thursday, December 1, 2011

Felice Gravy Dad!

Christmas is coming, and soon my wife Karen will be making "Italian Gravy" for the lasagna we will have on Christmas Day.... If she starts with fresh Tomatoes she will first peel them using the method my father taught her, dropping them into boiling water, draining the water and plunging them into an ice bath so that the skin splits and peels away easily, but since this is December she will probably start with canned Plum tomatoes from San Marzano. Either way she will use my mother's version of my Grandmother's recipe for "Gravy" (Tomato Sauce). The main difference between my Mother's version of gravy and my Grandmother's was that mom used a big fatty piece of chuck steak for the meat where "Nana" would use either her Meatballs or Braciola (lean beef, pounded thin and filled with rasins, garlic and pignolli (pine nuts); rolled and tied then browned to seal in all the goodness; and then simmered in a big pot of gravy all day long.) or pork any of these would work for the meat ingredient but usually Nana used all three.

After my mom died, making tomato sauce was like therapy for Karen, and our house would often be filled with the smell of it, and it transported me back to the days of my childhood. The first smell that this wonderful task would emit was that of olive oil and garlic warming in a skillet Karen's version of the task meant cutting the chuck steak up into pieces and dividing out the fat, which che would still brown in the aforementioned skillet with the lean meat, and then she would simmer both in the sauce for several hours before removing the fat and discarding it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The return of Captain Artichoke

When he was about 12, my son Robert took to brushing his hair straight up like a character from Dragon Ball Z, and a good friend of our family dubbed him "Captain Artichoke!"

Fortunately the hairstyle faded quickly, unfortunately the name lingers on, much like our Thanksgiving traditions.

At our house, we love to serve Artichokes every Thanksgiving, and often on Christmas and at Easter as well, just as my Nana and Aunt Agnes did. Now if you didn't grow up eating them, they can be a little frightening to prepare, but it is really quite simple:

Cut off the stem so that the bottom of the artichoke is flat, and can sit upright.

Peel the tough outer layer of the stem and chop to about the size of a garlic clove.

Peel about 3 cloves of garlic per artichoke, and quarter.

Artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, so I usually take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of outer leaves. This step is optional because the thorns soften with cooking but I like to do it before spreading the leaves open for stuffing.

Spread the leaves open, stuff in the stem pieces and garlic cloves.

Drizzle with oil.

Place the choke in a pot and add watter till it comes half-way up the artichokes.

Add the juice of a lemon and a few fresh basil leaves to the water.

Cover the pot and boil till the outer leaves come away from the artichoke, and you can pluck a leaf easily, and the flesh is tender.

Serve immediately.

Some people like to dip the leaves in melted butter, personally I like them plain, you just peal the leaves one at a time from the outside, scraping each leaf between your teeth to strip away the succulent flesh. until you work your way down to the choke, where the hair like thistle-down will need to be scraped away from the artichoke heart. The heart itself, is pure heaven, being the tenderest most flavorful part of the artichoke.

It's delicious, and it's Italian, my whole family agrees, especially Captain Artichoke.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sorry this July entry is so late, my father passed away on June 26th, and it has been very hard to get back to this blog, since he has been, and will continue to be, so much a part of it.

Independence day is a good time to remember that although he was very proud of his Italian heritage, my dad considered himself first and foremost, an American. Both of his grandparents and his Father were proud to become naturalized citizens of the United States, and growing up during World War II he developed a deep and abiding love for his country that is shared by the majority of Italian Americans.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1950, between Korea and Vietnam, and though he never spoke of it, my mother once mentioned that even that long after WWII he had some restrictions placed on his clearance because he was of Italian decent.

Many of you may know that Japanese Americans were held in interment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbour. What you may not know is that when the United States declared war on Italy and Germany shortly thereafter, Italian Americans who were not naturalized citizens were classified as enemy aliens.

In 1942 there were more nonnaturalized Italians residing in the United States than any other ethnic group (some six-hundred-thousand of them). Enemy alien laws placed restrictions on Italians, who were subject to curfews and could not travel far from their homes, and were refused jobs in factories that supplied the military with munitions and equipment. They had to cary photo-identity cards, they couldn't posses guns or short-wave radios. An estimated 10,000 Italians on the west coast were forced to relocate, and within 6 months of the onset of U.S. Involvement of the war 1,500 Italians were arrested for violating these restrictive laws. Though Italian resident's of the United States faired better than their Japanese counterparts, some 250 Italians were sent to military camps, some for as long as two years.

This didn't stop Italian Americans from serving their country. More than 1. 5 million Italian Americans served in World War II, according to the late Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. In a speech to the Italian American War Veterans of America August 25, 1961, Rockefeller said that Italian Americans constituted "more than 10 percent of the might of the American forces in World War II.

One such Italian American was John Basilone, the only enlisted Marine in U.S. history to receive the nation's two highest military honors: the Navy Cross for valor and the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in World War II. Basilone, a Marine sergeant from New Jersey, fought at the Battle of Guadalcanal (1942), raised millions of dollars in war bonds, and was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.

Another notable Italian American was Captain Don Gentile of the U.S. Army Air Force, who shot down over 30 Nazi planes during World War II. Eisenhower called the 24-year-old pilot a "one-man Air Force" and personally pinned the Distinguished Service Cross on him. The "Ace of Aces" was born in Ohio and bought his first plane when he was 15. He died in a training accident after the war in 1950 when he was only 30.

Italian Americans have held some of the highest possitions in the military such as Four-star General Anthony Zinni, a veteran Marine and the son of Italian immigrants, who commanded Operation Desert Fox, the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1998. It was the largest U.S. offensive since the Gulf War in 1991. A highly decorated officer, he was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command.

And General Carl Vuono, who was the first Italian American to be appointed Army chief of staff. He served from 1987-1991 and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Who knew? American Patriotism and service, it's Italian!

Italian American service facts from The National Italian American Foundation who thank military historian Rudy A. D'Angelo.

Enemy Alien information from The home-front war: World War II and American society By Kenneth Paul O'Brien, Lynn H. Parsons and Italian and other internees in Canada and abroad By Franca Iacovetta, Roberto Perin, Angelo Principe

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Leave the Gun. Take the Cannoli*

Or: How a Gal from Texas Was Introduced to a Brooklyn-Italian Family

My mother, Marjorie, was of Irish/English decent, Her mother was an Atwood, and her Mother's Mother was a Kenedy. She was born in Seattle, Washington in 1941, followed by the troubled and premature birth of her younger sister Judy, and the subsequent birth of her brother Sam. Times were hard, and her father Samuel Center ran into some serious financial troubles, and Judy's early health problems were too much for him. He essentially abandoned my Grandmother Laura but eventually granted her a divorce when she met and fell in love with a young Navy Pilot, the man I knew as my Grandfather, McManus (Buddy) Huffman.

Grandpa Buddy was the best thing that could have happened to that family, he took to those kids like they were his own, regaling them with stories of Texas Rangers and Pioneers which were actually true stories of his family's history. When Marj's youngest sister Diane was born Buddy moved his young family to Bellville Texas, a town where all the old brick buildings were built by his recent ancestors, the Huffmans and the Colletons on land that had all once belonged to his more remote ancestors, the Maxwells. Thus it was that little Marjorie found herself transported to what she must have thought of as the Wild West, and from the close nuclear family of her Mom and siblings to the huge extended family of the Huffmans.

Marj thrived in Bellville. A regular tom-boy, she enjoyed the woods that backed up to her property and ran between the little farms and ranches between Bellville and the nearby town of Buckhorn. She liked hiking and camping, hunting and fishing. The later she could do in the nearby Brazos river. She also enjoyed building sandbag dams across the Piney Creek to form swimming holes that she and her brother Sam and the other kids from the neighborhood would swim in. In the fall she made money picking cotton for Mr. Pavelock. She also stole persimmons from his tree, and shot pomegranate seeds at the nether regions of his prize pigs. Grandpa Bud's sense of humor rubbed off on Mom, and she developed her own love of practical jokes and pranks as well.

Marjorie graduated from Bellville High School in 1959 (she was in the same class as Ernie Koy, Jr former American football running back for the New York Giants). She enlisted in the Women's Army Corp. Upon joining she discovered that on her birth certificate her biological father had inexplicably signed his name as Samuel Earl Dickson instead of Samuel Earl Center. So Margie became Marjorie May Dickson, and being from Texas, gained the nickname "Dixie".
While in basic training in Alabama, she honed her pranking skills, putting shoe-polish on the nose of a sleeping tattle-tale, placing blue dye in the shower-head of a hated instructor (if I hadn't heard this story long before they made the movie "Private Benjamin", I would have thought Mom was embellishing).

By 1960 "Dixie" was stationed in Washington, D.C. where a dapper young corporal, Tony DeVito, caught her eye: a handsome, urbane, Italian photographer with a Brooklyn accent, the man who would soon become my father. As for his part, he took one look at her and it was all over. He described her as having "movie-star looks" and "a southern-accent that could never be called a drawl" because she talked so fast he could barely understand her.
By August they were engaged and Tony took "Dixie" to meet his family in Brooklyn. Most likely they picked up Tony's mother Madeline and his younger brother Nicky at his mother's apartment in the Marcy projects, and took her to his Uncle Andy and Aunt Agnes's house in Fort Hamilton.

Marjorie would have been completely unprepared for the feast that met her. First a soup and salad, then a huge antipasto with salamis, hams, dry Italian sausages, and cheeses and roasted peppers and olives, it probably would have been the first time she ever tasted mozzarella so fresh and moist and al cruda (uncooked). Then there would have been the pasta course, probably spaghetti with meatballs, and braciola**(rolled, stuffed flank steak) and pork –all three meats cooked in the "gravy"(as we call tomato sauce) .

By this point in the meal the volume of the conversation would have raised, loud political discourse in mixed Italian and English with a Brooklyn-Italian accent would have been heard, as foreign to "Dixie" as her fast-talking East-Texas accent was to Tony's Family. The main course would have come out, roast beef with peas and onions, fried mushrooms-and-garlic, and stuffed artichokes. Uncle Andy whom had been teasing "Dixie" quite a bit by this point tried to talk her into eating the hair-like "choke" of the Artichoke. As the evening wore down they would have brought out a fruit bowl, and mixed nuts, and played dominoes or "Po-ke-no" (a combination of Poker and Bingo). Some of the men might have retired to the other room to shoot pool or 9-ball.Tony's cousins would have tried to get Tony and "Dixie" (who must have seemed like a real southern belle to them) to come shoot pool with them.

Then Aunt Agnes would have put on the Percolator (which any self-respecting Italian knows is a sign that it is almost time to leave) and made strong Italian coffee and everyone would have come back to the table for desert. Then the Pastries would have come out: Sfogliatelle (flakey leaves of cakey pastry), pastafrolla-a-esse ("s"-shaped shortbread biscuits), strati arcobaleno (7-layer rainbow cookies), tiramisu( pastry cream between two coffee-soaked lady fingers), babĂ  a rum (rum-soaked yeast pastries), biscotti regina (sesame seed cookies), and the king of all Italian pastries: cannolis!

In Italian the word cannoli means "little tube" the diminutive of "canna" meaning "reed" (or any hollow-stalked river-grass). The pastry is essentially a cookie curled into a tube-shape and filled with a sweetened ricotta-cheese filling, and dusted with powdered sugar. The ones Uncle Andy and Aunt Agnes served had small pieces of citrine (candied orange rind) in the filling, whipped cream was dolloped at the exposed ends of the ricotta filling, and chocolate sprinkles were applied to the whipped cream.

Never had Marjorie tasted such a concoction, it was love at first bite, and she decided right then that she'd made the right choice, laying down her gun and following her heart, she felt her days were like these cannoli shells sweet enough on their own, but she and Tony could fill them with all the best things in life, and when they were overflowing with love there would still be room for chocolate sprinkles. It's a good philosophy for life, and it's Italian.

* "Leave the gun. Take the Cannoli" is a line from the movie "The Godfather" based on the novel by Mario Puzzo

**Braciola can mean different things depending on what region of Italy you are from - for Neapolitans it usually meant flank steak rolled and stuffed with garlic, raisins and pignolli (pine nuts)
This entry is dedicated to my Mom, who passed away seven years ago this month:
Marjorie May DeVito, May 4, 1941 - June 10, 2004

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Playing Bocce Ball

OK, so after my last post I just had to go out and play Bocce Ball, and found it to be a lot of fun,
the rules are pretty simple. Bocce is played with eight large balls (le palle, le palle di bocce, or il bocce) and one small ball (il pallino). The game can be played with 2, 4, or 8 players.

The bocce balls are distributed evenly between the players. Ideally, each bocce player will use balls from the set that are unique in design or color from all the other balls in play. This is helpful in distinguishing one player's bocce from another's. A player is picked to throw the pallino by a quick game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. After the pallino is thrown, the same player will throw his first bocce ball. The purpose of the game is to get your bocce balls as close as possible to the pallino. After the first player has thrown his first bocce ball, he is considered "inside" because his bocce is the closest to the pallino (inside by default, since it is the only bocce in play). All other players are considered "outside." Whenever a player is considered "inside," he will forfeit his turn throwing bocce balls. All "outside" players will take turns throwing their bocce balls until until one of their bocce is closer to the pallino than the "inside" player.
After all players have thrown their bocce balls, the player that is "inside" will be awarded points. One point will be awarded to this player for every ball that is closer to the pallino than his closest competitor's ball. After the points are awarded, the frame is completed. Start a new frame by electing a new person to throw the pallino and to throw the first bocce ball. A game is won when a player reaches 13 points. Play as many frames as necessary until a player reaches this point level. Of course, this point level can be decreased or increased depending on the number of players and time constraints between players.

I'm pleased to report that I won my first frame of Bocce Ball, and learned a new word. I guess it was beginner's luck, because I lost the game - lowest score amongst three other fiercely competitive older Italian gentlemen. As for the word I learned, I can't repeat it, but it's Italian!

Friday, April 1, 2011

New York City Childhood

It's just a few months before my 50th birthday, and as I am sitting here working on my income taxes, I find my mind wandering down streets of nostalgia instead. Churning around in my head is a list of some of the stuff I loved, growing up in New York.

Stuff like building "soap-box" racers out of old baby buggies or broken laundry/shopping carts (the folding kind) , playing Ring-o-levio, sticking bottle tops on the hot pavement so cars would press them in. Prying them up again to play scullies. Fishing balls out of the storm grate, playing stick ball, climbing onto the roof of a shed at a construction site. Jumping off said roof into a pile of sand.

A lot of my memories are of food: foamy egg cremes, potato Knishes, Sabret hot dogs with saurkraut and red-onion sauce, chestnuts and hot pretzles from street vendors. The ice cream truck, and the whole experience of hearing that music on a hot summers day, fishing in my pockets to see if I had the change, and running to the truck to by an ice cream bar.

Speaking of hot summer days, I loved: playing in an open fire hydrant, block parties, street fairs, church bazaars, the Museum of Natural History, flipping baseball cards, and going to the park. Sneaking down to Mott Street to buy fire crackers for the fourth of July. Watching fireworks from the roof. Watching the solar eclipse from the roof. Jumping from roof to roof over the alleyway where the rooftops nearly meet at the facade to get to one particular roof we kids called tar-beach.

There were so many parks. There was Washington square park with it's arch where I would watch the old Italian men playing Bocce Ball. There was riding my bike and climbing trees, or climbing the Peter Stuyvesant statue in Stuyvesant park. There was the Children's Zoo and clock in Central park, and the Eagle Statues, also in Central Park near where they fed the sea lions. Speaking of lions, I loved the lions outside the New York Public Library.

Christmas time was magical in New York City for a kid: going to F.A.O. Shwartz, and to all the moving window displays at all the big department stores. The giant tree and ice skating at Rockefeller Center.

We moved about an hour North of Manhattan when I turned twelve, but my early childhood in Manhattan was a fun one, and it seems inconceivable to me that I am the same age as some of those old Italian men playing Bocce.

About those New York Public Library Lions, they were designed by sculptor Edward Clark Potter, they were carved from Tennessee Pink marble by the Piccirilli Brothers in 1911, and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them "Patience" and "Fortitude", so they were born in America, but the way I figure it, they are two-thirds Italian.

I wonder if I can show a little "Patience and Fortitude" and learn how to play Bocce Ball. It looks like fun, and after all, it's Italian!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birthday Surprise: White Clam Sauce

My wife loves fresh white clam sauce, and since it's her birthday this month, I think I'll surprise her. Now you can make my recipe without the zucchini , and just cook up a pound of linguine instead, but we enjoy having less starch and adding a green vegetable. Here's my recipe:
1 - lemon
1/4 - cup of Olive Oil
4 - cloves garlic
1 - teaspoon of dried thyme
1 - teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 - cup dry Italian vermouth
1 - 12oz can of Baby Clams
3 - large zucchini (summer squash)
1 - tsp butter
Black Pepper
Red pepper flakes
Slice zucchini into thin planks lengthwise, then cut planks into linguine sized strips (a mandolin does this best). In large pot heat oil. Add Garlic (sliced into large chunks), juice of 1 lemon, and drain the juice of one 12oz can of baby clams. bring to a simmer, add a teaspoon of butter, and 1/4 cup dry Italian vermouth, bring back to a simmer, add thyme, basil and oregano, add zucchini strips and again return to a simmer, add the clams and and reduce heat to its lowest setting, remove from heat after 4 minutes, or when the sauce returns to a boil (whichever comes first) Crack pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and have red pepper flakes on hand.

Optional - steam a box of those steamer clams in the shell, and serve them over the top (or on the side, if you don't want to pick out the shells).

Add some of those red pepper flakes. Taste it. Once you are done ooing and awwweing you'll have no choice but to agree it's Italian!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Finding Your Italian Ancestors in the US Census

The United States Census is a marvelous tool for genealogy research. It has been taken every 10 years from 1790 through 2000, and in some years the census lists not only names, ages and birthplaces, but also give the relationship of individuals in a household, when ancestors came to the U.S., if and when they were naturalized, and other important pieces of information.

Those looking for their Italian roots will be most interested in censuses taken between 1850 and 1930 for a few reason, foremost because this is the period that saw the biggest Italian immigration into the United States, but also because the census from 1790 through 1840 only named the head of the household, everyone else in the household was just listed in categories. For example — 2 females over 16, 1 male under 16 and finally because censuses after 1930 are still confidential and the information they contain is not open to the public.

The census from 1850 through 1930 lists each member of the household and usually gives the relationship to the head of the house. It also gives age (later years give birth month and year) and place of birth (usually just the state or foreign country).Note that unfortunately the 1890 census was almost totally destroyed by fire so there is a 20 year gap between 1880 and 1900.

I suggest that you begin your search with the 1930 census and work backward. you will probably have more information on relatives who were alive in 1930 than earlier and you can work your way backwards as more names are found and linked together. For instance I found almost every branch of my family in the 1930s census, and the following information about them:

The Santora's names all listed: Nicholas, Grace, Anthony, Jerry, Madeline, Filimina, Agnes, Angelina, Lucy, and Dorothy, as well as Loglio's (sic - should be Lovaglio) Rocco, Olga, Angelina, Ralph, and Nicholas, all living at 28 Floyd Street, an apartment building which Nicholas Santora owned in Brooklyn NY and that Rocco was renting his apartment there for $20/month. I also found a list of all their occupations: Nicholas was a baker at an unnamed bakery Anthony and Jerry are listed as upholsterers Madeline, Filimina, Agnes, and Angelina are all listed as seamstresses with different specialities; and Rocco Lovaglio's occupation was a sole cutter at a shoe factory.

The DeVito's: Antonio, Carmella, Edward, and Michael can also be found on the 1930 census, living at 657 Wythe Avenue Brooklyn NY an apartment which they rented for $30/month. The occupation listed for Antonio, Michael and Eddie was Barber, and their industry is listed as "own shop".

Aurelia DeVito was married by 1930, and appears in the census as "illegible" Tedone, and is incorrectly listed as a male. "his" "wife" is listed as Fulvatore (maybe Salvatore?)

I also found my mother's family. Leonard C Butcher, Alice Atwood, Laura and Bernice Atwood appear on the 1930 census At 4123 Whitman Ave, Seattle City, WA. It looks as if at the time of the census they were living in different apartments in the same building so perhaps this is is how they met. Alice is listed as a factory worker and Leonard as the foreman of a lumber yard, Alice was born in Minnesota, Leonard in England. Both the girls were born in Washington State Leonard's immigration year appears to be 1914, and he was not Naturalized as of 1930. All this I know only from the census listing.

My wife's Grandfather Henry H. Atkins is also in the 1930's census. His age was 28, his wife is listed as Jese M. 34, Children Janice11 mo and Henry H. Jr. 2 and stepdaughter Millicent Wigfield 11 also appear on the 1930 census all living along the Baltimore Pike in Allegheny MD. Henry's occupation is listed as a machinist at a stub mill.

So you see, there is a wealth of information that can be gleaned from the census.

Individuals are listed in a census by year, then state, then county, and district. You must know the state to begin a search. Within the 1850–1930 period, unless you know a fairly exact location, the most important consideration is the existence of an index. In an earlier posting about the Ellis Island ship manifest archive I recommended searching on relatives with unusual names first. The strategy is still a sound one. You can also take advantage of Soundex Indexes. See my post on the Soundex System.

The 1920 census has been indexed by the government by surnames within a household using the Soundex system. The 1900 census also has a Soundex index for all states. The 1910 census has only been indexed for the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Unfortunately, this omits some of the most populous states such as New York and New Jersey. The Soundex index to the 1880 census only covers households that had children under the age of 10. The Soundex indexes were created by copying the original handwritten entries from the census. The index cards for some years are also handwritten. This means that you are reading the handwriting of one person who wrote down what he or she thought another person had written. Needless to say, errors can occur. In all indexes, if you do not find the name you are looking for, you should look under other letters that might be written similarly — F for T, S for L, etc. You should also assume that an L (4) and a T (3) within the name might have been mistaken and search other Soundex codes. Be alert for unexpected spellings of the name you are looking for. Earlier Censuses and Printed Indexes exist, but are beyond the scope of this posting. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has an extensive collection, but they do not circulate.

Many states also had their own census, sometimes at more frequent intervals. There are census returns in other countries also. Canada and Great Britain have census for every 10 years since 1841. There are not nearly as many indexes for these census as for the U.S. ones, but there is an online index of the 1871 census for Ontario. Because of their 100 year confidentiality rule, only 1841–1891 are open to the public. They can also be obtained from the Family History Library. No matter what area you are researching, one of the first resources you should look for is a census.

All U.S. censuses are available at the 11 offices of the National Archives. Many of the censuses are also available in many genealogy libraries and Family History Centers. All censuses are available on loan from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City through your local Family History Center. There are also many sources online for your search, most require a small membership fee to access them.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Mozzarella is a soft, creamy stretch-curd cheese that tastes like pure heaven. I have childhood memories of my Uncle Andy coming back from one of his shopping excursions moments before the antipasto was served and pulling a container out of a paper bag filled with a huge oval of white mozzarella in salted water, and cutting a taste off for himself and I before turning it over to my Aunt Agnes.

The Mozzarella I grew up with in the 1960's in NY was probably often made from cow's milk, what Calabrians would have called "Fioradilatte" (flower of milk) rather than "mozzarella di bufala" (buffalo mozzarella) but if I know my Uncle Andy, he probably found and purchased the buffalo milk mozzarella whenever possible. My uncle had a love of entertaining his family and friends that I must have inherited, and often when I am shopping for good food I think of him.

Mozzarella-making begins the same way as many cheeses, a small bit of started cheese is added to milk (in this case from cows or water buffalo) which is warmed and curdled and allowed to set for an hour. The curds are then cut into small pieces and allowed to rest for several hours and the whey is discarded.

I mentioned earlier that Mozzarella is a pulled-curd cheese, the process is called Pasta Filata in Italian, and involves placing the curds in a hot water bath for another several hours at about ninety-five degrees centigrade. When the curds are ready they will begin to float. Most of the liquid is poured off and the curds are mixed and kneaded until it achieves a stringy texture. At this point a thick strand may be pulled out, and small loaves cut off, or small strands may be pulled out and braided together.

Now the Mozzarella is ready to be served. Ideally mozzarella should be consumed within a few days, though it can be preserved in salt water for about a week-and-a-half, smoking will preserve it longer.

A six ounce ball of mozzarella, it's about $4-$8, Rich, creamy, fresh taste: it's priceless, but the memories of a happy childhood: well, it's Italian.