We told them what to expect and what would happen.
We told the boys, “You’ll never go hungry and there’ll always be food. Eat slow and you’ll survive and thrive.”
It had been three years since we had made our New England trip to see Paul’s family and while we’ve hosted them on a regular basis down South, the time had come to venture North again.
My husband is a first generation American. His father immigrated to Connecticut from Sicily and his mother from Eastern Europe and it’s a family steeped in old world tradition. Paul’s extended family, on the Sicilian side, is large with an abundance of tradition and the smattering of family owned Italian restaurants have kept our cravings for Italian food in check over the years.
You’d think, after all these years, we’d be pro’s at navigating the culinary experience of his family’s restaurant. We knew what to expect, but three years had been long enough to leave us holding our bellies as we crawled into the fetal position for a nap. We were out of practice to say the least.
Let’s break it down into the most simplistic terms. There is the food you order and then there is the food that arrives. Two totally different concepts.
The family orders three different appetizers, yet six selections arrive at the table. There are individual entree portions that can easily feed a family of six that arrive with sides of salad and pasta that can feed at least two. All the while we’re instructed to keep eating and that Aunt Lena is sending out more. It was painfully good.
The boys looked around the table when their “dinner” arrived wondering what the hell just happened. Didn’t they just eat dinner? Isn’t that what they had been doing for the past 30 minutes as plates kept arriving at the kids table? All Paul and I could do was smile and say, “Do your best, take your time and enjoy. We told you.”
I finally found my sanity and only ordered salads. It only took one meal after three years to be reminded of what I knew all too well. Anything I may want to try had likely already been ordered or would simply just arrive at the table. In the end there’d always be an abundance for all to share and no one would go hungry.
So, while our boys visited Boston and Fenway Park for the first time, spent hours playing with their cousins, intently listened with fascination to their Grandfather speak Italian, met countless relatives who showered them with love and attention, toured with Paul and I the houses where we grew up, our schools and the places we hung out; it’s the culinary extravaganzas they keep talking about.
“You were right, we were never hungry!”