Even though "Campbell" isn't technically an Italian name, my in-laws are truly Italian. My Father-in-Law inherited the last name from a biological father he never met, but was raised by his 100% Italian mother, his 100% Italian step-father, and their family business was running a 100% Italian bakery in lower Manhattan. Lou's mother? As Italian as "La Cosa Nostra."
So when we first got married and she gave me her recipe for the family meatballs and gravy, I thought, "how hard can it be? Just follow the instructions." Tons of meat, tomatoes, plenty of time to cook. It wasn't until I had my hands deep in the chopped meat that I realized "some of this"... and "a little of that"... is very vague. "Add breadcrumbs." Ummm, how much? "Add cheese" Umm, again, how much? What kind of cheese? "Not too soft, not too hard." Really? I finally gave in and called her. Over the course of the conversation I realized that she unintentionally <wink, wink> omitted the eggs from the recipe, Mama Barone style (Everybody Loves Raymond), and when I asked her what kind of cheese she answered "Locatelli, of course!" as if no other cheese even exists. Mom - if you're reading this - you know I'm teasing and I love you like crazy :) I'm so happy to have you and your wonderful recipes.
I went to the supermarket for the Locatelli, had to ask where to find it, and as soon as I saw the tub of grated cheese I recognized it from my cousin's house years ago! Clearly it's an Italian thing. Of course, I have converted and my refrigerator has never been without a tub of Locatelli since. Just like my Aunt Janie converted when she married my Uncle Pete Zappulla!
I'm telling you this because Ty loved Nana's meatballs. He loved Locatelli cheese! He didn't eat macaroni and cheese, he ate pasta with Locatelli like a true Italian baby. Tonight, when I was sprinkling some on my own leftover meatballs that Mom sent me home with last night, I pictured his little chubby fingers... how he used to insist on squeezing and crumbling all the little balls over his pasta. He did that from the time he was one year old, for as long as his little body would let him. I relish in the memory and I love that I will be able to see his hands every single time I use "sprinkle cheese" as he called it.
I think we have a fan all the way in Sarajevo, too. I wonder how Mely is coping without any Locatelli in Bosnia :) She always made Ty's Ditalini noodles just right for him. Over the last few months with Ty, he had a joke that he always played on me. He would ask for me to make him "noo-noos" but then he wouldn't eat them! I would get so frustrated. Then Mely would come in and say "don't you dare eat my noodles!!!" and Ty would gobble up a mouthful. He was always such a clown and a little prankster. We all are. I swear that little boy was made up of pure laughter stitched together with giggles on a string.
|Goodnight my little Goofball|
|Missing you both so so very much|
Happy Birthday to my Granny in Heaven today. She gave the best kisses. Better than any other human on the planet. Hope Ty is there to sing "Happy Berfday" to you. But be careful, because he might use exploding candles on your cake just for a laugh :)