Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Truth at Last**

Grandma Josephine, my Nonni
Speaking from my own experience, I would argue that the best mothers are Italian-Americans, in part because they are warm and affectionate, but mostly because of the manicotti. When I was a kid, my own Irish-American mother was a terrible cook, so I would dutifully eat the remains of whatever luckless animal she'd just burned to a crisp, puke it up and then run down the street to Richie Giardinelli's house, where his mother was always baking ziti or cooking up a fresh pot of meatballs or making manicotti.
I never met anyone who was more beloved by her kids than Mrs. Giardinelli, though she wasn't much different from all the other Italian-American mothers I have known. Italian-American moms love their kids, they look out for their kids, they defend their kids, and because of that their kids generally grow up to be pillars of the community. If I had to do it all over again, I'd come back as an Italian-American kid—in part because of the warmth, the affection, the passion and the generosity, but mostly because of the manicotti.
-- Joe Queenan, from Why Italian Moms Are The Best
** This is no way denigrates my own mother's mothering. She was the best of mothers, but she was half Syrian and half Scotch-English. Despite that, she could cook very, very well!


  1. My grandma made the best fried chicken but Sophie looks just like your grandmother. Holy moly!

  2. Yes. Your grandmother definitely gave her genes to Sophie in the looks department. Wow!
    As to mothers and cooking- my mother tried. God love her. She tried.
    (This may explain a lot.)

  3. Isn't there also a view that Italian mothers spoil their sons in particular. A generalisation no doubt , but may still hold a kernel of truth.

  4. Love that photo! I see Sophie and you for sure!

  5. My mom wasn't Italian (Irish and German and some other stuff in there) but she did learn how to cook from my dad's Italian relatives, for which I am grateful. :-)

  6. my grandma was married to an italian, and she was the very best of mothers. :) her mother-in-law, who was also married to an italian, was horribly to my grandfather (her son)--but in her defense, she had lost a young daughter to the flu epidemic, and couldn't forgive my grandpa for being male. le sigh. complicated...
    but the food was excellent, even though grammy was irish. ;)

  7. Did Sophie and her great-grandmother ever meet?

    Joe Queenan's piece makes me think of Ruth Reichl's hilarious and affectionate descriptions of her mother's (poisonous) cooking!

  8. is knowing how to cook the secret? I hope not

  9. Ha! I love the bit about the "luckless animal..."

    My mom is English-Scotch-Irish, but she's always been a very capable cook. I'd take issue with Queenan that good cooking is a matter of ethnicity. I'm guessing there are one or two bad Italian cooks out there (but maybe no more than that).



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