Like any tradition, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when/how this all started. It seems to have evolved over the years until it became a formula of sorts. Several years ago my mother, aka Grandma, thought it would be fun to teach her seven grandkids how to make pasta, as taught to her by her father-in-law, Gregorio Notarianni, who was taught by his wife, Della.
You know, I do remember making pasta with our Grandpa when we were kids. Specifically ravioli and gnocchi. He even taught us how to make ricotta cheese.
Greg, Cindy, Adrienne, Lissa
making ravioli with our Grandpa
Erin and Kelly
making gnocchi with Grandma
(same kitchen, same table....30 years later)
Then we would all gather on Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's house to feast on the fruits of our labor, topped with homemade sauce: ragu - pronounced rah-ooh in our family's own dialect, and served with homemade bracciole - bra-jhole -, meatballs and sausage. Let me tell you: it's heaven on earth.
***This year, Grandma decided it was time to "pass the torch" and let us kids and grandkids take over everything, from making the ragu to hosting the dinner. Kelly and Aaron offered to make the ragu and bracciole at their place a few weeks ago. I hosted the gnocchi-making party at my place a week before Christmas...you gotta let the pasta air-dry for a few days, then freeze it (my sister Adrienne was in charge of that part).
Wisely, Grandma stepped back and only offered input when called upon for clarification, like "Do we add the potatoes to the flour "volcano" before or after we fill it with the beaten eggs?" (there was a serious debate going on here); she was also called upon to poke her finger into the dough to determine if we had kneaded enough flour into it.
Aaron and Kelly offered to make the ragu and bracciole at their place a few weeks ago. I hosted the gnocchi-making party at my place a week before Christmas...you gotta let the pasta air-dry for a few days, then freeze it (my sister Adrienne was in charge of that part).
MAKING CHRISTMAS DINNER from Cindy Swainson on Vimeo.
***My brother Greg and his wife Lynn hosted dinner for 17 people on Christmas Eve, complete with dozens of luminaria (Lynn hails from Albuquerque) and a White Elephant gift exchange.
This year's celebration was extra special because everyone was home for Christmas, so Grandma had all her children and grandchildren gathered around her.
CHRISTMAS EVE from Cindy Swainson on Vimeo.