August 7, 2017

Grottaminarda, Italy. September, 1984

Agosto, capa r’virn’. Or so said my friend Nick’s grandmother in her Grottaminarda dialect every year at this time, announcing, “August is the beginning of winter.” I love this and have since the first time I heard it. Maybe because I like autumn the best of all the seasons, a time to sharpen pencils and head “back to school” or off to some foreign land once all the students are back in their classrooms and the temperature is more forgiving. One September, on my first solo trip to Italy, Nick’s Grottaminarda relatives welcomed me to their small town east of Naples, a wonderful friendly place. Here are Nick’s cousins Michele, Pupetta and Zia Letizia (whom Nick’s season-savvy grandmother with her flair for nicknames referred to as “crooked ass.”) I remember walking to the store with Pupetta to buy the fresh pasta for her ciambotella (sauté a red pepper, a green pepper, a hot pepper, a vinegar pepper.) The other dish she made that remains happily in memory is sartù, a loose sort of scrambled frittata with eggs and potatoes. Mmmm. Hearty and substantial fare, perfect for those blustery days of August. (Happy birthday to my baby brother, Brien. How does it feel to finally have a winter birthday like all the rest of our family?)

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