when things will happen. In my Chicken Soup blog, I mentioned that I had family in Queens and Brooklyn. My mom was raised in Brooklyn, during the days of prohibition. She could tell some stories. Big black cars going into a funeral home, when there was no funeral…but that’s for another time. Her maiden name was “Peluso” and she came from a large Neapolitan family. Most of her brothers and all of her sisters moved to Queens, to raise their families. ( Quick geography lesson. Queens and Brooklyn are two of the five NYC boroughs on Long Island. Queens, being the largest.) My uncle Salvatore,(“Sal” for short), stayed in Brooklyn. He and my Aunt Josephine had two girls, Loretta and Geraldine, both older than me. I didn’t get to see them very often, but I always remember how much I enjoyed being with them. I was always especially fond of my cousin, Loretta. Over the years, and my thousands of miles of vagabonding, (Ma used to call me “the gypsy”), we lost touch. They, however stayed in Queens. I am happy to say that this morning, I received an email from Loretta! You just never know when someone you love comes back into your life. Loretta! Stay in touch! Love you!
It is below freezing in sunny, Manassas, Virginia and what could be better than a pot of freshly made chicken soup. Before I was relegated to the wheels, I was an avid cook. My mother was an avid cook. My aunts were avid cooks. My grandmother…anyways, you get the point. We’re Italian! I, as the rest of the second generation, were brought up in Queens or Brooklyn in the 50’s and 60’s. The neighborhoods in Queens were as much of a melting schmaltz pot as they came. Brooklyn? That’s Italian. I say “schmaltz” because my Queens neighborhood, off of Linden Boulevard in Cambria Heights, was a great mixture of Jews, mostly Polish and German, and Italian, mostly Southern. “Schmaltz,” is chicken fat, which is often rendered down to fry chicken livers and other wonderful Jewish foods. By the time I was 10, I didn’t care what I was…Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, it didn’t matter. Besides being a melting pot of religions and nationalities, there was also a melting pot of chicken soup.
On cold days, throughout the neighborhood, 217th Street, one could smell the incredible aroma of chicken soup cooking. I lived mid-block, so I could smell the soup cooking from the Riley’s, to the Karps, to the Rolantis. The big to do was always how the soup was made. My Jewish Mother, Marcia, concurred with my Italian Mother, Linda, that one had to add garlic. Mrs. Riley…not so much. But this discussion often went on during every coffee clatch in the neighborhood. Regardless, the soup was exquisite and yes, it warmed your body and your soul.
Come on over, I’ve got a pot on!