But today, I started thinking about those Sherman Avenue Murphys again...you know, my roots. What a street that was! Many small homes, cape style, but Dutch colonials and a few old farmhouse from the days of the apple orchard too. Ours was a cape...very cute, I like to think. My dad was meticulous about it.
The Cucurellos lived in a Dutch colonial down the street. I could sit on my porch and just about inhale the smell of garlic coming from Grandma Cucurello's (Angie) kitchen. It was there that I first tasted the love of my life: pasta! When I'd come home from their house, my dad (aka Archie Bunker) could smell the garlic. "Go right upstairs and change your clothes!" Oh brother. "I didn't come all the way across the ocean to smell that abnormal smell."
"But Dad!" Well, you know what ensued after that. Archie, I mean DAD, always got his way. Then one day, the Cucurellos invited Mr. I'm-ALL-Irish-ALL-the-TIME to dinner. We were all so excited, we could barely stay glued to our skin! Imagine. Well, he went alright, but not after a WHOLE bunch of dawdling and dilly-dallying...something he'd never allow in me.
We sat down at the table and they stuck a medium-sized bowl in front of him. The larger bowl of pasta and "gravy" with that wonderful garlic smell was divvied out by Rose Cucurello, the diminutive mom of the household. I could see my dad's expression of fear from the corner of my eye. I feared for the Cucurello household. Big Dan (weighing in at about 350) was in his place, at the head of the table, getting ready to say grace. A few words were mumbled by my not-so-grace-filled Dad under his breath. It was then that Angelina, his partner in prayer (another story), hopped up from the table and grabbed another bowl from the kitchen. This time, it was the butter and pasta for wimps bowl. Archie B. was saved! Boo-hoo!! But...what my dad didn't know was that he needed to pace himself. He fired down the pasta...believe it or not, he'd never even had THAT before! And then came the leg of lamb and all the trimmings! I thought my father was going to die! It was so worth the price of admission, I laugh even now thinking about it.
But that was the end of our garlicky pasta days...in fact, we didn't even have pizza in our house until my dad died. As sad as his death was...there was a silver lining. As he would say, before he was even "cold in the ground," we were concocting all sorts of things in his kitchen.And what did we fire up first on that Irish stove of ours? It wasn't meat and potatoes, that was for darn sure! 'Twas our own bootleg version of Grandma Cucurello's pasta sauce that we'd tried so many times before of course! (Don't tell Dad!)