Italian Dough Scraper- Handmade
Italian Dough Scraper- Handmade

 This hand-forged dough scraper, made by my paternal great-great-grandfather, is one of the few possessions my grandmother, Giuseppina, brought in 1902 when she left the Southern Italian village of Avigliano.  She made the trans-Atlantic journey at 14 when she came to keep house for her father and his brothers.  Ellis Island’s archive provides a brief insight into how some of my relatives were received in their new country.  My grandfather’s brother is described on the 1906 manifest of the SS Sanio from Napoli as a 15–year old “carpenter, in good health without deformities” who was not an “anarchist, or polygamist.”  I try to imagine these teenage immigrants from rural Italy making a new home in a Brooklyn cold-water flat. As Giuseppina used the scraper to make Orecchiette and Tapparelle (pastas from Basilicata province) she must have thought sadly of the grandfather who made it, realizing she’d never see him again. I have no pictures of the relative who forged this utensil, but the legacy of his craftsmanship is clearly evident.  I wish my grandmother taught me how to use it when making the recipes her mother taught her, but we moved far away before she could. Consequently, I grew up eating bread and pasta that came in plastic bags and boxes. And I must rely on cookbooks and TV for instruction when I use this family heirloom.  

Place(s): Avigliano, Basilicata
Year: 1902

– BK

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant