Years ago, in one of my former lives filled with escapade and mayhem, I would wander the saloons of the West seeking adventure and a quick bit of coin playing Texas Hold ‘Em with anybody who had the cash and gumption to make it interesting. I’d made my way through all of the cities that sounded up to the challenge – Deadwood, Wichita, Tombstone – when I decided to get off the beaten path. My reputation was preceding me and finding a high-stakes table was getting harder and harder.
If I were given the opportunity to pick my last meal on earth, I would choose, without hesitation, spaghetti ala olio. Or as we’ve called it since childhood, spaghetti ollie oley. Though some dishes have more significant memories attached or elegant ingredients, none make my taste buds happier.
Noodles in oil tossed.
Golden garlic shaves atop.
Grated cheese completes.
There are few things that universally say “Christmas!” to our extended family like Nonnie’s biscotti. Not to be confused with our Nonnie (queen of the pasta fazool), this nonna is my mother and her siblings’ grandmother. Lucy Vitiello Polvinale aka Old Nonnie (or Nonnie from Florida if she was within earshot) was a pistol of a lady. Though vertically challenged to the tune of 4 foot nothing – give or take – she could whip up a feast for the hordes while telling fabulous stories in her wizened old Italian-accented voice, barking orders at Cizzie (the Florida Cizzie, not to be confused with present day Aunt Dot Cizzie) and encouraging the feeble attempts of any protegee, young or old, who thought it wise to belly up to her counter to roll gnocchi or simply bask in her wonderful presence.