When my great grandfather immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1913, he came to the country with little more than the clothes on his back. But through hard work, within a generation he had opened a business -- a grocery in Newton, Massachusetts, where he settled and where his children and my father's generation were born. Pasquale took incredible pride in the little grocery store, and even more pride in himself as its proprietor. In 1956 at his son's graduation from college, Pasquale proudly pressed and wore his finest clothing for the occasion -- his butcher whites. The grocery store had a thick cherry wood counter which Pasquale kept scrupulously cleaned, always adorned with a ball of red and white string to tie up customers' packages in brown paper. Eventually, Pasquale sold the grocery store, but saved the wood from the counter, never one to waste or forget what it was like to come from nothing.
Fast forwarding two generations, the wood from the counter ended up in my uncle's work shop, not far from its original home in a Newton grocery store. Never wanting to waste, and to continue traditions of family, food, and celebration, he fashioned a rolling pin as a wedding gift for me, so our family's history could be woven into every dish I cook for friends and family.