As we are sharing a house with 26 people for the week, it’s easy to imagine not only the chaos but the dilemmas which arise to feed this many and those challenges. Long ago we came up with an easy plan. Each family has their night to shop, cook and clean up. Once a week that’s it. The first night is pizza night as we unpack, then there are four families to take a night and one left over meal. It works beautifully. Occasionally we get energetic and organize a theme. It’s entirely up to the host family. One year long ago our family set up a restaurant called the dozen cousins (there were only 12 then) and we had the kids take orders for their hero sandwhiches which they turned into the short order cooks and we ran the whole evening like a family diner. It was fun.
Last night John and Amy took the family meal into a special niche of their own. John’s parents are first generation Italian. John, Amy and the kids have spent ample time in Italy with family, so they know the authentic Italian dinner nuances that we could never discover otherwise. They made homemade “mama mia” sauce and spaghetti. Mmmm… They also dressed up like the old generation italians working in the kitchen. This includes a scarf over the hair of the women (always) and a house coat to cover the clothes (red sauce!) and slippers. The men wear “ginney Ts” (pronounced “g” like get), high waisted shorts, preferably colorful with a wide belt, and always tall black socks. Gold jewelry is an added spark of authenticity.
As if it weren’t enough that they were dressed for the event… they presented us all with gifts and we were instructed to get changed. Women were given aprons and bandanas, and the men were given their own ginney Ts and black socks. With in five minutes the entire group of LaTorres were parading in our silly Italian costumes.
Mom LaTorre nearly wept crying when she saw Dad appear in his ginney T because she has NEVER in almost 50 years of marriage seen him dressed like that.
Cameras were snapping from all corners, dancing broke out, and we all began to dramatize our roles. The Mamas were bossy and the papas were indifferent.
After dinner Luke (age 8) provided us all with a stunning performance. He lip synced to a an Italian song about needing to sing just because he’s Italian. He was incredibly cute.( I am going to add the video, but I have the world’s slowest connection right now which means it will take a few hours to load. So please check back for that special treat.)
Before dinner each night we gather around the kitchen island and the hosting family offers a prayer of thanks not only for the food but especially for sharing the Love of God in this beautiful gift of family. So, this evening John prayed for us all in his family tongue, Italian. This is the first time in twenty years of knowing JOhn that he was willing to speak his Italian with all eyes on him. It was precious. Bravos! with a rolling “R” were the resulting cheer!
The food was fantastic but the fun was what we’ll remember. Viva Italiano!