Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today's Gift 6/19/11: Papa's Meatballs

My parents are here on their yearly visit. They usually stay with us 3 weeks, give or take. During this particular, visit we've been fortunate enough to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary as well as Father's Day. Every time they come to see us my dad makes his obligatory 200 meatballs. Yes, that's right, it's a tradition.

Coincidentally, today being Father's Day, he is making his meatballs this afternoon aided by my daughter (his assistant). My mom and I will be making sure that all the items needed for this process be laid out and at the ready for him before he makes his way downstairs and begins his labor of love. My son will probably show up (from staying at a friends overnight) just in time to eat them. And the wafting smell will lure my husband up from the basement from whatever secret experiment he is currently conducting down there.

This labor of love is one of the most anticipated and appreciated gifts we receive from my dad, steeped in the Italian tradition of how food equates to love. You see, for us, by cooking for someone you are expressing your love and affection toward them. My dad loves to cook for us and he gets great joy from the looks on our faces as we savor every single bite of whatever creation he has put forth. Today, it is his meatballs!

This is a multi-sensory gift. The process itself of the collecting of ingredients and laying everything out, the conversations during the preparation and cooking, the savory aroma that fills the house for days, the unforgettable taste and texture, and the big smiles all around and the hugs and kisses of appreciation.

When they are all done, we will package the remainder up in plastic freezer bags for use at a later time. Long after our bellies have recovered from overfill. Long after the smell has dissipated. Long after he has gone back home. Each time we open a bag, the memories and the love come right out and sustains us till the next visit. The next meatball bonanza. The next warm hug and kiss. The next time we see dad.

Wishing all a warn and loving Father's Day. We love you Papa!