This past Easter, we went to Montreal to re-connect with my family. My sister-in-law’s parents had kindly invited us for their traditional Italian Easter lunch, which FuBu and I always love: it’s a guaranteed delicious feast! There was enough food to feed about six armies and every single piece of food had been prepared from scratch, from the antipasti platters to the pasta and even the wine – you could taste the love that went into making this entire meal.
FuBu and I always enjoy entering their cantina, where they store all their tomato sauces, preserved vegetables and cured meats. To see the legs of prosciutto hanging was a thing of beauty to me. On the drive back to Toronto, as with all our drives home, FuBu and I like to compare notes about our trip: commentaries, criticisms, complaints… And we could not stop talking about the food at Easter lunch!
I love my mom’s cooking, but it is rare that I will prepare a Chinese meal at home. I think I’m fearful of being disappointed that it won’t turn out “just like Mom’s”, so instead of even trying, I just don’t do it. It’s interesting because while I don’t feel particularly melancholy about the real possibility of losing much of my Chinese food heritage, I was disquieted by the reality that my sister-in-law’s parents’ food traditions will not be carried on. Their kids don’t forage for mushrooms and preserve them, they don’t cure prosciutto and sopresatta, and they don’t crush their garden-grown tomatoes and make vats of tomato sauce. Let’s face it: why would they?
In my culture, it wasn’t about “earth-to-table”, it was just great-tasting food. In the Italian culture, the love goes into the raw ingredient. I love this – there is something so pure about it! But modern-day realities don’t afford us the luxury of time and certainly don’t reward work done with our hands. So it saddens me to think that these pure food traditions will not be carried on and we’ll have to settle for going to our specialty grocery retailers to buy really good cured meats or preserved antipasti, which will really never taste like it was made by your mom or dad.
Well, at least my sister-in-law loves to cook and I can still indulge in delicious and simply prepared authentic Italian goodness, even if she doesn’t cure the capicola! If you live in the South Shore area of Montreal, don’t forget to visit her at Meet Me In My Kitchen to order some awesome dinners from her!