My next dish was fun to make and it comes from my hometown cookbook, The Little Italy Festival Town Cookbook. This particular recipe is from Mrs. John Ruffatti. I don’t know her. I probably know her kin, but I can’t pinpoint her to anyone. That’s how small towns work though. If you don’t know someone, you sure as hell know someone who knows the person you don’t know.
I feel very sad about the state of small towns. It feels like they are dying off. I don’t want to offend anyone who is still living in my hometown of Clinton, but it’s dying and dying fast. There are not many opportunities there and every year more and more of the younger generations move away.
I have many happy memories of Clinton. I have a lot of angst driven ones too, but overall I’m proud of where I grew up and how it shaped me. I still love my friends that I made there. To this day they are some of my favorite people in the world. That being said, I could never go back there to live.
Small towns have the best stories, too. My mother grew up in Clinton as well and she tells me great stories, most of which involve my grandfather. My grandfather was a first generation Italian-American and he started his own construction company when he was around my age, which makes me feel like a huge slacker. Anyway, he also loved dynamite, a lot. My mother loves to tell me about the various buildings he was hired to destroy and the giant grin on his face as the walls came tumbling down. In one story, my mother and aunt were inside an old high school, pretty much dumpster diving and had to rush out because Grandpa was getting impatient. He started demolishing the building while they were still inside, in an area he knew they weren’t in, of course. My mother says she still remembers how it felt when the walls shook as her and her sister tried to cobble up as many artifacts from the school as they could.
My grandfather, such a legend in my family’s eyes. As I grew older I thought maybe my family was over exaggerating, but then I kept meeting other people around town that would get the same excited look on their faces when they spoke of him. My last boyfriend’s father had a story about him even. All the story consisted of was that my grandfather had waved and smiled at him a few days before he passed, but the way he told it, made it seem like my grandfather was a king or a celebrity. He also told me that the farmland his family now owns was the site of one my grandfather’s first major jobs. I’m not knowledgeable on farmer logistics so I could be getting this wrong, but it sounds like he helped level the land so they could plant there.
My mom jokes that we could write a book on all the stories involving my grandfather. In other words I could talk about him all day, but we shall move on to the title subject.
The first step in this recipe is to fry onions in butter. I’ve noticed in older recipes that butter seems to be the nectar of cooking. I see it everywhere. They put butter on everything back then. Anyway, you lightly brown the onions and then add tomatoes, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar. You cook that for a bit and then add two beaten eggs. The final result is very interesting. My eggs didn’t fry up as much as I thought they would and I’m guessing that’s because the sauce wasn’t quite hot enough. This didn’t affect my enjoyment of the dish. It affected the texture a bit, but I think the taste turned out quite well.