A very special Happy New Year to all my Italian food loving friends and family. This past year has been challenging to say the least. I hope 2012 brings you all everything you want including health, happiness and stomachs full of good food and drinks.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New Years eve was another extension of Christmas Eve in our house. Only difference was the cooking was not as formal. My mother and grandmother made homemade pizza, and mpanada with broccoli and olives, scaciatta Catanese with provolone and pepperoni and fried onions. And the one thing I remember most about New Year’s eve was my mothers famous punch. From the moment I can remember my mother made this punch for New Year’s Eve. It was made with pink lemonade, ginger ale, whisky and Angostura bitters with some maraschino cherry thrown in and a block of ice she made in one of her plastic containers. The crystal punch bowl came out and everyone, including myself, had a taste of punch.
The basement of my house on 77th Street was set up once again for a family celebration. My father brought out a custom-made table top he fabricated himself and set it on top of a couple of saw horses. This was the only way we would have a table large enough to fit everyone. And everyone had to sit around the table, all 20 of us, including visiting neighbors and additional relatives.
When it got close to midnight my mother would take out the plastic sack filled with noise makers and bells and clanking paddles and hand them out to everyone. We turned on the small 12″ screen TV we had in the basement and tuned into the channel that featured Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians playing at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. It wasn’t New Year’s Eve without him. The countdown was always exciting and the stroke of midnight rang in the new year with the sounds of the Royal Canadians playing Auld Lang Syne, everyone screaming and making noise, and what seamed like a never-ending line of hugs and kisses from everyone in the room.
Happy New Year!