Why did we go to the small town of Marina di Caulonia in Calabria, Italy?
My nonno, Peppino Morano, was from Cittanova, Calabria, Italy and my nonna was from Caulonia, Italy (about an hour's drive). My nonno constructed buildings in both New York and Southern Italy, so during my grandparent's lifetime they would live and travel between the two countries. My nonno built some buildings in a tiny beach town called Marina di Caulonia, including a three story residential building where he left a fully furnished apartment 50 meters from the sea. Before we left on our journey, I wanted to spend some time tracing my roots and getting to know my nonno and nonna's sisters and brothers who still live in Italy. So our next stop after staying with friends in Frascati, Italy, is Marina di Caulonia. We call my Zia Marietta the day before our arrival to let her know that we were coming to live in my grandparent's apartment. She excitedly invites us to stay with her for our first night in the small beach town and offers to take us to the apartment in the morning to get it ready for our stay.
Meeting Zia Marietta:
Zia Marietta is the widow of my grandpa’s brother Girolamo. After WWII, southern Italy was in a depression so Marietta and Girolamo had to find work in Switzerland. After several years of hard work abroad, Marietta and her family returned to their home in Marina di Caulonia where she has lived ever since. Marietta has one daughter Angela, two grandchildren Daniela and Vincenzo, and a beloved little dog named Scherzo (who eats like a king).
We arrive at Marina di Caulonia and with Marietta's help we settle in. Marietta and her daughter, Angela, are very curious and excited to hear about Made with Love. Once they understand that we are traveling the world in search of traditional recipes that are made with love, they both agree to show us how to make two traditional Calabrese recipes.
The Recipe Hunters
Do you make food with love or know someone that does ?
What does Zia Marietta cook?
Marietta cooks each and every day. She constantly invites us over to enjoy her homemade food, for coffee, or to chat. Today she is eager to teach us a traditional dish from Caulonia so she decides that she will cook us the Braciole di Melanzane. Braciole di Melanzane is a typical Calabrese dish which can be thought of as an eggplant fritter. We plan to be at her place at Sunday at 10:30 am so we could enjoy the meal together. We arrive through her entrance and are greeted by a rich aroma. Were we wrong with our translation and explanation of Made with Love. We thought we would “facciamo tutto il processo insieme, paso a paso mentre Leila fa i foto ed io scrivo” or “We do the entire process together, step by step while Leila takes photos and I write”. Where did we go wrong? When we ask Marietta what she cooked she said she started preparing the lumache at 7 am. Not knowing what lumache meant I asked her if we needed the lumache for the braciole and she laughed for a good 15 seconds as she showed us the snails simmering in tomato sauce on the stove. It was our ignorance, how could we forget that if we are invited for a Sunday lunch, it would be a full meal, not just one recipe. We continue to prepare the braciole di melanzane together as Marietta tells us stories of my grandparents in the town. The first course for lunch is snails and spaghetti. It's our first time eating snails. They're chewy but delicious and we slurp down each and every one of them. She tells us that she purchased the snails earlier that week from a man who collects them every time it rains. We promise to collect the snails on rainy days during for Marietta during our stay in Marina di Caulonia. Our second course is the Bracciole di Melanzane which Marietta showed us how to make! They are are savory, hot and crisp. We end the day full and happy with a promise to return the following week to learn how to make Zeppole with Angela!
We spend over three weeks in Calabria and during that time we learned a lot about my family's history and the region that my ancestors are from. Throughout our stay in Marina di Caulonia, Zia Marietta constantly checked in on us, treating us like her own grandchildren. Grazie Marietta!