Monday, September 5, 2016
ERNESTO NOVIELLO & ELISABETTA GRECO NOVIELLO
This photo was probably taken in the late 1940s or early 1950s in Richmond, Virginia.
I had many wonderful Italian dinners at their house. "Mamaw", as Elisabetta was known, taught me how to make her mother's Sunday Gravy. Her mother (Teresa Lapetina) was affectionately known as "Big Mamma." She was even smaller than Mamaw – and that was small! It took a few years for me to perfect the "gravy" that was made with meatballs, Italian sausage, sometimes braciole and a few ribs, but my family loved it and I made it at least one Sunday out of a month. I played Italian opera cassettes while it slowly simmered on the stove. We listened to mob hits while we dined. "Gran-Gran", as Ernesto (Americanized to Ernest) was affectionately called, would always say, "il dolce far niente" – the sweetness of doing nothing. This was obviously only meant for Sunday. He worked very hard as a barber for many years and Sunday was so special to him with family and wonderful Italian food. Two of my grandparents died before I was born and two died when I was very young, so I never got to have that relationship. Mamaw and Gran-Gran were like my very own grandparents.