Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Not only did I grow up with an Italian family, my neighbors that bordered my backyard were Italian.  In the summer, my twin brother Joey and I spent a lot of time playing in the backyard.  Antonia and Joe, born in Italy, lived in the house behind us.  Both had strong, rolling, thick Italian accents.  They were the embodiment of Italian culture.  My own Italian grandmother would come to my house to visit them, and I would sit with my grandmother near the fence, listening to the Italian flowing over it.  Antonia and Joe worked a beautiful garden in their backyard, full of flowers, tomatoes, sweet red peppers, green beans, and an old fig tree.

Antonia, like any Italian woman, had the constant and unceasing desire to feed people, especially children.  Her accent would roll out over the fence under the sun, calling to me and my brother, immediately distracting us from our play, to come to the fence that we shared between yards. She would feed us homemade Italian cookies, carrots and tomatoes from the garden, and other sweets.  My favorite were the figs.  I remember standing on tiptoe by the fence with my brother, craning our neck to get a glimpse of the gnarled old fig tree that stood in the corner of their yard.  We would look for the ripening figs.  We would wait for Antonia to lean over the fence that seemed so high to give us those sweet, sugary, figs picked right from the tree.  She would laugh as we ate them, and smile, and speak softly to us in a mixture of Italian and thick English.

The taste of figs brings me right back to those innocent days, the hot summers, and the kindness of my Italian neighbor.  It is fig season once again, and every taste of our Fig sorbetto brings me back to the summers of my childhood, and makes me think of my beloved Italian neighbors, Antonia and Joe.


No comments:

Post a Comment