I wish you could smell this. The garlic, the sweet tomatoes, the meatballs, the sauted onion in olive oil. . . . .it’s the smell of my childhood in the air.
Everything my grandparents had was copper. I remember the giant spaghetti pot being copper and filled with water for pasta. Another giant pot with spaghetti sauce and meatballs next to it. “Don’t touch the stove!” My grandmother would tell me as a baby. Their entire little house would smell. You knew when grandma and grandpa were cooking. One hand for bread and the other, a twirled fork full of pasta. That is how my grandfather ate.
My grandfather was actually a deacon of the Roman Catholic church and an exorcist. Catholicism is very much part of my background. I remember a room filled with rays of light from the windows. On the wall shown massive statues and pictures. They were placed all along the wall. This was a homemade altar to God handed down from my great grandmother. One statue in particular stood out to me and became my favorite- the Infant of Prague. He was magnificent in His robes holding that little blue globe. I have memories about Catholicism that I feel strongly link me to my own culture and who I am other than being a subcategory of religion. The mysticism is beautiful. I now have my own home altar.
I take with me my own culture to Norway, as I am too stubborn to completely leave it. I will become some sort of hybrid in fitting in with the local culture. I already know that my Norwegian family has interest in what I grew up with. The home altar in the eyes of my husband is creepy and strange to him. As for food, well, they want to eat whatever I make. They say they will try whatever I make and typically have seconds. “Can I have this recipe?” “Um. . . .I can’t. Family won’t allow it.” I got special permission to teach food to my Norwegian relatives since it’s been handed down by family for generations.
I ask my readers: What traditions do you have that others may find foreign?