By Rebecca Meyer
The month of August is here and reminds me of the days when my daughter was young and anticipating going back to school. Her favorite time was school shopping, which was an exciting and well-planned event. It always included going out to lunch at any restaurant she chose. My only requirement for her was to follow school dress code and she was able to choose clothes, supplies, a backpack and, of course, a new lunch box. It was a blast and we have great memories of those times. I remember packing her lunch every day, which always included nutritional goodies along with her favorite food, which she loved. As I think about my own back-to-school days, I remember that lunch with my family was never a typical meal.
One of my favorite memories of visiting my Italian family took place in my grandma’s house where the kitchen was the biggest room. In the middle of it was an oblong table, big enough to fit 10 people for a meal. She always had extra chairs because the aunts and uncles would pop in to visit us and have a “little” lunch with the family.
Of course, there was nothing “little” about lunch with my family. My grandparents would put a tablecloth on the table and proceed to bring out the big platters of Volpi meats and cheeses, which could only be described as Grandma’s deli in a kitchen. They always provided samples of the meat and cheese on crackers before lunch in case we were hungry and couldn’t wait. Fresh baked Italian bread from the bakery down the street was a staple. There was always plenty of fresh bread along with all of the goodies that go with an amazing sandwich.
Our family always made lunch as though it was our last meal and I remember my great grandma, Mama Maria, telling us to eat and enjoy because we might not be here tomorrow. By the time we finished lunch, it was almost two hours later. My grandma always had iced tea and lemonade along with various kinds of soda to enjoy on a hot summer day. Her freezer was filled with popsicles for dessert and she always told the grandkids to go outside to eat them by the grape arbor, which provided the grapes for their homemade wine.
Those were fun, memorable days listening to the stories and eating the best fresh food that you can imagine. It was inevitable that before the meal was over, someone would bring up what we were having for dinner. This is just how my family was and is today. It wasn’t just about the food, but the company we kept and the hugs and kisses from all of our extended family who hadn’t seen us since the last summer we were there. We always felt loved and cared for and because of this, I have continued the tradition with my family. Be sure to try out the recipe Nona’s Summer Sandwich the next time you have lunch with your family. You can pack the sandwich in a new school lunch box or sit with your family around the kitchen table and enjoy reminiscing about the good old days of funny family traditions. Either way, you will be amazed!
For the most amazing sandwich, go to the website: www.volpifoods. com. This is the famous Volpi store established in 1902, located on The Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Go through the products and try a few things on the menu. Some favorites are Genoa salame, mortadella, dry salsiccia and coppa. Their products are wonderful for the Italian food connoisseurs in your life who will love you even more if you give them as gifts. ◆
Nonna’s Summer Sandwich
1 loaf of fresh Italian bread
(try any of the following meats or cheeses, or choose all of them)
Volpi Genoa Salame
Italian Style Pancetta
Roast Beef – Sliced Bottom Round Roast
Sliced Sweet Onions
Dill Pickle Slices
Oil and Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Make the sandwich using any or all of the ingredients listed. Be sure to cut the sandwich in half, since it will be stacked with everything. Grab some chips and fruit and enjoy an amazing lunch!