Shortly after World War II, my Father would leave his home in Naples, Italy to come to the United States to begin a new life and family in the Italian part of the Bronx. We eventually numbered twelve, or should I say, fourteen. My Grandparents would immigrate to the United States when I was seven, completing our family.
My Grandmother, my Bisnonna, was an amazing cook. She knew how to put out an amazing spread regardless of the hard times and early struggle of adapting to a new environment. I still remember Grandpa tending the rooftop garden and Grandma picking me up after school and walking to the local vendors for additional fresh Italian herbs, Ricotta and Parmesan Cheeses and meats. After our trip to the markets, we would return to our home and make “The Sauce”. The first time my Bisnonna asked for my help in the kitchen, my duty was to put the fresh Basil into the bubbly creation. I was so nervous and excited that I pinched the basil into little bitty pieces. When she realized what I had done, she sternly gave me my first lesson on making “The Sauce.” The basil is supposed to go in whole. HA, HA!
With the spirit of Naples and a little creativity, my Grandmother kept our table full of pasta, sauce and love… and on occasion, fresh pizza to keep her little helper in Heaven.
It was only a matter of time before her incredible and authentic Italian recipes would become a secondary source of income for our household. As a little helper, my job was to keep “The Sauce” from sticking. I spent long hours standing on my little stool stirring until my arms went numb. Meanwhile, fresh dough would be made that would be molded into flaky breads, homemade pastas, and enough fresh pizza dough to feed the whole Bronx! It was more than fun! I couldn't wait to get home and cook! The aroma's that floated through the air lingered well into the evenings. I felt that I was in another world.
The cooking tradition has stayed with me and I've continued to fill my own kitchen with the aromas of fresh herbs and tomatoes. After hours of cooking on my stove the aroma permeates the air. Still to this day my own Sons and Grandchildren know the mouthwatering smell when Nona is cooking “The Sauce,” and I can never make enough for all of them! Once you have my sauce, the taste remains with you! We are confidante you will enjoy “The Sauce” that has been served from generation to generation in my own family and now to your table. Mangia!