Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Food, food, food

Why is it that food evokes memories long forgotten?

I know I've written about this before, but tonight's dinner brought back more memories of my mother and her cooking style. Some would say it was southern Italian, since her family originally came from Abruzzi, in southern Italy. If you haven't googled it yet, you really must. Google Torrevechia Teatina Chieti Abruzzo. If you do that (I could do it for you, but you need to practice) you will find out where your ancestors lived.

I was told that the Sbaraglia family were the caretakers of the town cemetery. Whether that's true or not, I haven't been able to verify. If you use and key in the Torrevechia Teatina Chieti Abruzzo search you can find amazing pictures of the town, because the satellite picture gets in pretty close.

Back to food. Tonight I made my mother's southern fried chicken (Italian style). I couldn't find my Bisquick, I guess I ran out of it and didn't write it down that I needed another box. Anyway, I substituted flour for the Bisquick (not as good, but okay), lots of seasoned salt, and a few shakes of garlic salt. That was all dumped into a paper sack, and then the chicken was thrown in there and tossed until it was well coated. Of course if was fried in olive oil. Not a lot, just enough to get it browned. Then my mom would cover it and cook it for about 45 minutes. I changed that to putting it in the over for 45 minutes -- it makes it crispier. Southern Italian fried chicken, while it is very good, is NOT crispy.

I thought of my mother and her giving up food for us. Either that or she was not hungry, not ever. I find that hard to believe. Although, you know she never was more than 105 pounds. She would cut up a chicken into pieces, and cook all of it, including the back, and liver, and gizzard, and she would boil the feet and eat them. Yes, she actually ate the feet. I never could get past what the feet had stepped in to even watch her eat the feet, but eat the feet she did.

Daddy got a thigh and drumstick. I got a wing, if I was lucky -- there was always a fight over who would get a wing. When I got older I realized that the breast was white meat, like the wing, and I opted for that part of the chicken. I can't remember who ate the back, probably mom. Dad liked the liver and gizzard, so he got those, too. He was welcome to them. I mean they're internal organs, and I never could get a liking for chicken livers.

So, folks, check out Abruzzo (Abruzzi) on Google. There are many websites about the region, and you just might come across a Sbaraglia in your searches. If you haven't already guessed, the picture at the top is Torrevecchia Teatina Chieti Abruzzo. Town center.

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