To quote Tevye, from the Fiddler on the Roof…..Traditions! What would we do without our treasured family traditions? It doesn’t matter if times are tough or times are good…..they are always important.
I have many many traditions that are important to me, but one in particular is my annual making of the Pizzelles. Those wonderful, crispy, light anise tasting waffle cookies that my Italian family (and millions more) grew up with. These cookies weren’t only served for Christmas. You would find them at “life’s monumental events”. Baby Christenings, First Holy Communions, Confirmations and of course, Weddings. There was always a tray of them out, looking beautiful with the Jordan almonds scattered over them.
My earliest memory of Pizzelles was as a young child (maybe 5 or 6 years old), going to my paternal grandmothers’ house in South Philadelphia. Adeline, my grandmother, was an amazing lady, whose culinary talents were extraordinary. She would cook amazing meals. She would never sit down with the family to eat….you pretty much ate nonstop.
So, there I was sitting in her kitchen, as she was making these wonderful cookies. Now, when SHE made her cookies, it was NOT with an electric iron that made 2 cookies at a time, she was using an iron that made 1 cookie at a time over the gas burner. She would make the cookie, and when it was done, (she knew exactly, that moment when it was perfectly colored!) she would turn around and open the iron and lay the cookie on a kitchen towel to firm up. Her iron made a snowflake shaped cookie, that had beautiful points around its edges. I would quietly sit there, watching her cookie making rythm and as she would turn towards the stove…. I would break off the points of each cookie and eat them! Each cookie would lose its snowflake shape and become very rounded.
Now, the OTHER thing you should know about my Grandmother Adeline…..she was an incredibly generous lady, whose salty language could give a Gordon Ramsey, or a Housewife of (your choice, pick the city!) a lesson or two in ahem, salty words. When she realized what I had done to her cookies…..an interesting stream of words flowed! I should add though, I knew by the big smile and the laughter that came with those words, she wasn’t really angry with me. So that year, when everyone in the family was sent home with their box of pizzelles….they were pointless, AND everyone knew why and who was responsible. From that point (pardon the pun) forward, those cookies became an extremely important part of my holiday experience. That simple moment of sitting in her kitchen with her and the pizzelles was a lifetime memory.
So, all these years later, as I make my pizzelles, for family, friends and Canterbury House guests, I have a smile on my face, remembering that wonderful Grand mom Adeline moment. Yes, Tevye…..Traditions, are wonderful. Happy Traditions everyone.