This afternoon Zack and I completed Nanna Maria’s ravioli recipe.
Together we rolled pasta, spread filling and cut little ravioli squares. We boxed them up and set them in our freezer. They will rest there until we enjoy them on Christmas Day.
An hour and a half or so into our process today, Zack had to leave me for a business related event. The two of us had made a lot of ravioli by then…but there was still LOTS of filling and pasta left to totally complete the job.
And so, I was alone.
I worked on.
As I mixed eggs, flour and water into firm pasta dough…my thoughts drifted to the decision making processes my Nanna Maria and other family members must have thought through before leaving Sicily.
The effects of 19th century Italian unification created great economic disparity between Italy’s unique geographic regions.
Sophisticated, prosperous, diverse northern Italy was given economic advantages over the south…including Sardinia and Sicily. Regions south of Naples were rural, agricultural, feudal territories.
Families there worked as collectives…earning very little for their labor. Education was generally out of the question. If you were healthy and able you worked the land. These southern Italians struggled to exist.
Statistical data estimates nearly four and a half million Italians came to America during a twenty year period beginning near the end of the 1890’s. Seventy-five percent of these immigrants were from southern Italy and Sicily.
Much of my Sicilian family arrived in the United States during 1910-1915, including my Nanna Maria Costanza Truzzolino. They were part of that large, aforementioned, twenty year migration from Italy.
Life in the Old Country was difficult. America offered hope. I’m positive my Nanna Maria arrived with thoughts that America would bring her a better life than the one she chose to leave behind. But I imagine along with her mother, father, brothers, sister, memorized family recipes and prayers for a safe voyage…there was plenty of fear, anxiety and homesickness as well.
So…this afternoon as I rolled, filled, cut and trimmed Nanna’s simple little ravioli…I thanked her…as well as my entire Sicilian family…for the courage it took for them to make the journey.