My Heritage in a Jar

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“Everyone come inside. The food is ready!”, my nonna screams out with a heavy italian accent. Nothing is more important to many family than our weekly Sunday sauce dinners. Though I say dinner, it’s more like a late afternoon feast. My grandparents, on my dad’s side, came to America when they were in their late teens on a boat from Italy. They have one of those, “started from nothing” stories where they wanted to live the American Dream. Today we follow many of their traditions they brought with them from Italy. This includes a pasta meal every Sunday made with our homemade sauce. Once every summer, all of my thirty-something, cousins, aunts, and uncles, all gather at my nonna and nonno’s house for the annual sauce making. After buying about 20 bushels of tomatoes, we first clean them and get rid of any bad ones. Next, we all arrive to my grandparents at around 7 in the next morning (yet I usually stroll in around 9 because mornings aren’t my thing), to start boiling them. Once boiled we run them through a machine that peels the skin off, and deposits the sauce into buckets. Finally, the most important step, jarring.This can make or break the whole process. If it’s not sealed properly, then the sauce will go bad quickly. My nonna walks around like a hawk making sure we’re not putting on any lids if there’s sauce on the mouth of the jar. For example, if there is even the slightest sight of a drop of tomato sauce on the jar, my nonna will make us redo the whole thing.

Year: 1947

– Samantha Leva

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