Walking Down Memory Lane

Reflections by Melissa Bellini

It’s a gray morning in the tristate area, but I refuse to let it get to me.
Sitting here with my espresso and anisette toast, I’m once again reminded of simpler times when I had not a care in the world.

I remember sitting at my zio and zia’s dining table in Bensonhurst. They lived across the street from my grandparents.

No one spoke English and to occupy myself, I’d trace the intricate work of the crocheted tablecloth, protected by plastic, that my aunt had made. I wish I had it today.

I remember playing with the bowl of plastic fruit at the center of the table, the elder’s chatter like ambient noise.

I’d get in trouble for eating all the pignoli off the cookies because I liked them better than the cookie at that time. Now they are a favorite of mine.

There was always a sleeve of Stella d’Ora anisette toast that I would dunk in my milk. I loved them for that sweet licorice flavor that reminded me of the lemon peel I’d snatch from my father’s cup when he finished his espresso which tasted like Sambuca. I acquired my tastes early.

I made anisette toast this week and told my boys this little story, but sadly they prefer a good old chocolate chip cookie. I will make those next.

I’m sitting here imagining myself with my sons and their children some day far into the future when we are making pasta and saying, “This is the pasta we made when we spent weeks inside due to the coronavirus.” The situation may not be a good one, but hopefully we can all make a happy memory while we are here.

What memories do you have or are you making that to help you through this time?

Melissa Bellini is an Italian American mother who is dedicated to passing on her culture to her sons and to anyone who is willing to listen. She is currently creating an Italian cooking class program in New Jersey that she hopes to launch soon after the COVID-19 crisis. Bellini’s father was born in Bari and her mother’s family is from Sicily. Follow her on Instagram @ms._melissa_bellini.

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