Funny that my first real conscious memories have to do with food and cooking. I was barely 4 years old walking hand in hand with my mother to the “mercatino”, to do the daily grocery shopping for that day’s supper. Even though the budget was tight, she always managed to put a good meal on the table. I remember the produce vendor’s singsong calls that his were the best tomatoes and sweetest peaches and such. The vendors were very competitive with one another as to who had the best stuff. It was almost a carnival-like atmosphere and very entertaining. He wrapped our selections in a sheet of newspaper shaped into a cone and weighed it on a hand held scale.
Next we visited the butcher shop where I was both fascinated and repulsed by the array of dead things hanging on big hooks in the window. My mother bought a small quantity of something (meat was very expensive) and we moved on. Next stop was the Salumiere for a few items from the deli counter and some olives out of a big barrel. Finally the stop I had been waiting for. A free standing pushcart with bunches and bunches of hanging bananas and beautiful pineapples. My mother buys me a perfect little banana, peels it half way down and handed it to me as if it were the best treat ever. As an adult I learned that it really was a special treat as all tropical fruits were very expensive and therefore reserved for special occasions.
So there I was walking along with my beautiful mammina, who for the time being was all mine. It was a beautiful day and all was right with the world. She was already expecting my sister but I don’t think I understood it. I was blissfully unaware of the little blond cherub that would soon join our family and of the huge changes that the coming year would bring.