While I’ve remained positive this past year about the fact that I truly feel that my life has changed for the better, Christmastime brings up a lot of emotion around food that I am experiencing for the first time. Coming from an Italian family, Christmas means a lot of gourmet cheeses, meats, cookies, breads, cakes (hello, who doesn’t just LOVE a pannetone for Christmas morning?!) You get my point.
Later today, my family is getting together for a tradition that has been passed down through at least four generations: making pizza. No, I don’t mean the pizza that you attempted to throw together and it only tasted OK. I mean the deep-rooted Italian recipe that was passed on to my grandfather that he passed on to us. The kind of skill that you need to even make this pizza is only genetic (ok I’m exaggerating, but not really).
Since my grandfather passed away a few years ago, I’ve hosted a pizza-making party at least once a year. Both my siblings have given me the biggest compliment: that I make the best pizza in the family. With the type of bond I had with my Grandpa, you can imagine my emotional connection to the recipe, to pizza-making, and to him.
But this year is different. This year, I won’t be enjoying eating the pizza with my family. I won’t be tasting my childhood and the memories that came with it, like when my Grandpa would have me make “mini pizza” when I was 8 years old. This realization caused me, a grown woman, to break down crying in our local Target parking lot yesterday. I felt like my connection to Grandpa would be severed, my pizza-making skills wasted. During this breakdown, my husband, who has continuously picked me off the floor on numerous occasions this past year, reminded me that I would make a NEW version of our family recipe. This version wouldn’t have gluten and the oh so fresh mozzarella, but instead would be a new tradition that would keep me close to Grandpa. Who says that my pizza can’t be delicious? Grandpa taught me everything I know about cooking, about being Italian, about how to make something taste delicious. It’s going to be a challenge, but Rich reminded me that if Grampy were here, he would work very, very hard to make my pizza the most delicious thing on earth. And that it was my turn to carry the torch.
So I leave you, my fellow food allergenino or allegenista, with this thought: if you had a bad day today, because it’s Christmas and you miss your old food and traditions, you are not alone. You’re also not sick, either. We can do this. Today, I will need my Grandpa with me, and I know he would be proud of me and what I am about to attempt.
On that note, Merry Christmas to all – I hope you all have a happy and healthy New Year.
Grampy in his element. I was likely right next to him here, learning everything I would need to know.
Here are the typical ingredients and finished product. This year, my pizza will look much different. Thankful to have Rich and my family by my side to help make me feel better.