Pollo Oreganato – Grilled Oregano Chicken

Protection – Italian Style

Do you remember the scene in the 1967  film The Graduate, when Dustin Hoffman was at his graduation party  and a friend of the family walks up to him and says:

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you – just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: ‘Plastics.’
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That’s a deal.

History had proven Mr. McGuire’s advise wise.  My mother saw the importance of plastic long before Mr. McGuire did!

There was not one piece of furniture in my house that was not covered and protected in plastic . Sofa, love seat, arm chairs,  even throw pillows. All encased in plastic slip covers, custom made to fit over the furniture.  And it didn’t end with furniture. Plastic runners on the rugs and carpeting. My mother even covered table cloths with plastic as to not stain the very cover that was protecting the table. She had protection on top of the protection. It was great having dinner on one of my mother’s plastic covered table cloths. Your elbows and forearms would stick to it like glue. And forget about sliding your plate anywhere. They stuck to the table as well, with the forks and knifes and anything else that came into contact with the plastic film.  And for the dining room table….a table pad, made specifically for that table, with extensions and all. And a table cloth over the table pad and a sheet of plastic on top of the table cloth. What protection!! It did nothing for the table when I was 3 and took a pen and enjoyed listening to the crackle when the pen penetrated the finish as I drew a smiley face on the dining room table. Broke my mother’s heart…along with my bottom.

When my mother bought her living room furniture, she bought it for life. Styles may come and go, but our furniture would last forever because it was covered and protected in plastic.

Ever sit on a sofa covered in plastic in the summertime with shorts on? I felt like a Colorform toy piece with the back of my thighs sticking to the sofa, having to “peel” myself off when getting up. Not to mention the conductive power of plastic in retaining your body heat!  If you got up too fast a swatch of skin would be left behind. And no matter how soft the sofa was underneath, the plastic covers equalized the pressure when you sat on it and always felt like you were sitting on an air mattress. As a matter of fact, if a lighter person was sitting on the opposite end of the sofa that you just sat hard on top of, that lighter person became a projectile, and flew across the room. What a surprise that always was!

Why was everything protected like that back then?  Even woman’s hair styles. When my mother went to bed after getting her hair done, she would wrap it in endless yards of tissue, maybe even toilet paper. And cover the final turban with a hair net, or some kind of frilly cap. Made her look a foot taller.  I’ll never forget as a child waking up in the middle of the night and freezing on the spot when I saw my mother walking out of her bedroom towards me with that turban rising up from her head.  It brought up the horror memories of the Bride of Frankenstein.  I even had a nightmare about that, waking up and meeting my mother in the hall as she opened her mouth wide and hissed at me!

Even when the woman went swimming back then, they covered their heads in bathing caps. Today, in 2010, my sister Annette still does. Old habits never die. She says she does it so the water does not go in her ears. Simple ear plugs would do the job and not make you look like a turtle.

My living room was protected from time and the elements by plastic. Fabric protection for my mother was not a spray on coating of a 3M product. A fitted layer of heavy duty plastic was the only way my mother would be confident that her furniture was safe, nothing less.

The rest of our living room was pretty typical for the time. One entire wall behind the sofa was covered in a mural picturing the canals of Venice. Looked like it was hand painted on.

Adjacent to that wall was a round table, covered in Formica. On top of that table was a lamp. But this was no ordinary lamp. I actually found a photo of the identical lamp on the internet and posted it here. This lamp was a show piece. It looked like a section of the Great Wall of China. On each end was a post that held a small shade and a shade in the middle. The controls on the front of the lamp allowed you to turn the two end lamps on, the one in the middle only, or all three at the same time. And another switch would light the base of the unit.  And at the center of the show piece was a ceramic hand painted figure of a Siamese princess, about 12 inches tall, that turned slowly. What theatre!! The princess would only turn when company arrived.

Adjacent to that wall was the love seat, covered in plastic, and a piano to the far end. My sister took lessons.  In front of the main sofa was a coffee table. It looked like half of the “ying and yang” symbol. I guess you would call it a tear drop shaped coffee table. It was covered in little ceramic tile. No plastic. (what could be stronger than tile?) Did I mention that my father, being a cabinet maker and master carpenter, made all of our furniture? Except for the sofas.

I’m sorry to say, we never made the pages of Better Homes and Garden. But it was home, as I knew it,  on 77 Street in Brooklyn.

This grilled chicken dish is great for a  cook out. This is a marinade my grandmother used to make and really added great flavor to chicken.  

Grilled Oregano Chicken

  • 4     chicken legs and thighs or whole chicken cut up
  • 4     garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4  cup parsley leaves, chopped fine
  • 1/4  cup lemon juice
  • 1/2  cup olive oil
  • 4     tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1   teaspoon  salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (optional, not really, go for it!)
  • lemon wedges

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

Make a marinade with the minced garlic, finely chopped parsley ,lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Put the chicken in a zip lock bag  or deep dish and pour the marinade over them, then cover and place in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours, turning the chicken every thirty minutes or so.

Preheat a gas grill to moderate temperature, or light the charcoal.

Place the chicken on the hot grill, keep the temp low so the chicken will not burn,  and baste regularly with the marinade. Turn the chicken after about ten minutes and continue basting until the chicken has thoroughly cooked and is crisp and golden brown. Serve with lemon wedges.


About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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