Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Three Generations of Women Together for Mother’s Day

For the last month or so, I managed to keep a secret from my mother and my great Aunt Dora: I planned a visit to New Jersey to surprise them for Mother’s Day weekend.

This was not an easy thing to do, since I talk with them and my father almost every day. Because of that, my wonderful husband knows how much I miss my family and encouraged me to book this flight.

My father was the co-conspirator on the surprise visit. He picked me up from Newark Airport and helped plan the details. When Mom came home, he was on the couch and recorded her as she came in. He encouraged her to come closer by pretending my Flip video camera was a new purchase that he wanted to show her. As she walked in and saw me hiding behind the wall near the door, he was able to catch the entire surprise on video. And man alive, as Mom would say, she was surprised! The three of us spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, eating and catching up as a family.

Mom and I set up the surprise for Aunt Dora. Mom went into Aunt Dora’s house first and told her that there was a surprise guest coming. I came in a few minutes later and Aunt Dora smothered me in hugs and kisses a few times over. I felt like it was my birthday.

For Mother’s Day dinner, my father made the dish my mother requested: a classic, southern-Italian lasagna with ricotta and fresh basil. Mom remembers growing up and eating this meatless, cheesy dish as a child. It is very different from how I learned to make it in Florence, with béchamel sauce instead of ricotta and mixed ground meat.

While we were eating, I caught my mother wiping the serving plate clean with a piece of bread. A perfect Fare La Scarpetta moment! Yes, this is how I was raised – to save every last delicious taste of the gravy. It isn’t rude; it would be rude to leave it uneaten!

I finished my bowl of lasagna and looked at the women in my family. A Mother is a woman who “mothers,” which has many definitions. Aunt Dora stepped in after my grandmother’s early passing and raised my mother and her two sisters. Happy Mother’s Day to two generations of strong women who raised other strong women! And most of all, thank you.

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