Archive for the ‘Italian-American’ Category


Family Vino PONG – The old folks win. The young ones fall in love.

Vino Pong Family Style


The sun is shining through the gray clouds. I love it. After all, we are in sunny California. The sun is supposed to shine. Right? Some people think it’s always beach weather and that Hollywood is right around the corner. Not always so. I spoke to a friend who lives in another state the other day and has never been to California. She asked if I had been to the beach since returning to California. Although it might be tolerable there, I would rather venture that one hour drive when I know without a doubt I can lay back in the soft, warm sand without inhaling a salty, mouthful of the gritty stuff. Winter in central California doesn’t typically inspire a trip to the beach. Oh, how I look forward to a ride to the coast when the weather warms. Soon, I tell myself, very soon. Perhaps only one more month.

A brisk walk has been on my agenda all day. I must fulfill my need for the outdoors before sunset, which is about one hour away. It was in the 50s today. And, a faint southerly breeze reminds me that summer is still but an illusion. And, it’s not an entirely pleasant wisp of wind, since the town I live in is surrounded by dairies. Lots and lots of cows. I would venture to say there are no less than ten of them within a five mile radius of my home. So, regardless of the country beauty that surrounds our housing development, the scent of the cow poop shall be a contender for my attention as I vigorously stroll the avenue. I am happy to say this scent is in no way toxic.

As I set out with my little dog on her leash in one hand, and a doo doo bag in the other, I surrender myself to the exhilaration of the moment. A half block away I turn the corner which leads out of the neighborhood and onto a paved path that is flanked by freshly plowed fields with old redwood barns. There is also a creek and barren trees that have given way to the wind and list to the south. I feel their pain.There are more clouds rolling in from the south-west that are darker than those through which the sun currently peeked. Perhaps there is more rain on the near horizon. Not a bad thing, I think as I walk vigorously to combat the chill.

In the field across the street are prolific patches of lush green weeds everywhere the tractor could not reach, and inspired by the recent rains followed by spurts of warm, nurturing sunshine. As I look a little closer I spot a culinary treasure! The wild greens I grew up eating every year during the spring. Mustard greens! I get excited, pick up my pace, and decide I will return with a knife and bag to gather some for dinner.

As a child I had the unique opportunity to eat many things that the kids down the street never knew were eatable and did not particularly like. The mustard greens were one of these. My grandfather, a first generation Italian-American, plowed fields in the early spring and brought bunches of them home for dinner. Although, Nana would usually cook them, on occasion he would take on the responsibility. He was gruff and extremely down-to-earth in all aspects of his life. Including his cooking. His preparation of the greens was basic yet delicious. After he boiled them he would fry them with bacon and garlic. I too will pass on the grand tradition of teaching my sons the art of cooking from what the earth so willingly provides.

Once I reach my intended destination, and turn-around point, I realize I must hurry. I feel the threat of an impending down-pour, yes, it begins to sprinkle. As I turn back I am treated with a spectacular sight. The sun has graciously provided me vivid purple reds as she makes her decent in the west on the fair side of swaying palms. Tonight the sun will set and lure the willing eye of every artist and picker of wild greens. I shall return to pick them tomorrow.