Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guest Blogger: Nora Campisi of the Blog "Back To Brooklyn"

Every one loves getting guests and the Sugar Mama NYC blog is no exception. It's great to hear point of views, stories and great info from the world beyond my kitchen(and laptop). So when I find someone that I enjoy hearing from, I invite them (read: stalk them until they say yes) to pop in here and share with all of you. If you're interested in guest blogging, feel free to leave your info: name, email, blog link and maybe I'll be able to hang up my binoculars and night vision goggles. I hear the laws on stalking are getting kinda strict...
Now, without further ado, Introducing...

Guest Blogger: Nora Campisi, is a writer living on Long Island, New York, originally from Brooklyn. Get to know Nora better as she takes you "Back 2 Brooklyn" on her Blog and Twitter... enjoy!

Cinnamon crullers, dunked in hot oil, fried until golden brown, rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, remind me of the early 1970s when my maternal grandmother, a small woman with a thousand wrinkles on her face, would come over to my house to bake.

“Mary,” she’d say to my mother. “Set the big pot on the stove and heat the oil, proprio ora - right now!”

As my grandmother moved about my kitchen with the fluidity of a
dancer, she barked out orders for my mother to follow. At the time I was just a girl, secretly pleased that my mother – a woman never without an opinion at least when it came to me – had to comply.

The two generations of women worked in tandem. As my grandmother dumped the flour onto a cutting board, mixed in sugar, baking powder and formed a well in the middle, my mother grabbed a bowl and beat together vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. My grandmother stood at the ready, flour dotting her nose, her eyeglasses. As Mom gradually poured the egg mixture into the well, my grandmother's capable hands turned the mixture into dough.

While they worked my grandmother took the time to find out “what was doing” with my mother – but she never asked direct questions. Instead, she indulged in the Italian version of “Can You Top This?” She focused on the accomplishments of her other children - my aunts and uncles - and waited for my mother to respond in kind.

Sometimes Mom bubbled over with stories about her own children – good stories that made my grandmother laugh as their hands worked over the dough. Other times, Mom didn’t have much to say – she was worried about one of us or all of us –– a child was failing in school; another was trying her patience – and so she kept silent as she kneaded the dough, which was then flattened across the kitchen table with a rolling pin, cut it into two-inch long strips and braided into ropes.

Still, my grandmother talked as she stood at the oil pot waving her slotted spoon.

“Mary – you
move into this big house, and still no dining room table? When you gonna get one? Quando – when"?

“Soon, ma,” My mother, never explaining money was tight, rolled her eyes as she handed over the roped dough.

My grandmother made a face and dropped the crullers into the oil where they floated like buoys. With a quick turn they puffed into a golden brown twists. Plucked from the oil and drained, they were rolled into the cinnamon-sugar and cooled on paper bags (which my grandmother claimed absorbed more oil). Always, I snatched a warm cruller and bit down. The bland taste of the warm dough coupled with the hardened exterior and the hint of sweetness from the cinnamon-sugar made them irresistible.

After the baking was done and the pot cleaned and put away, my mother and grandmother, content to nibble on crullers, avoided the tougher questions. They laughed as they enjoyed the fruits of their labor, forgetting for a time the complexities of their mother-daughter relationship.
Perhaps, on some level they realized that a fresh cinnamon cruller came with its own reward.

The way I remember it, they certainly did eat a lot of crullers.

Nora Campisi

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