Thursday, June 30, 2005
And here is the something on the party.
A Family Reunion on Long Island.
This past weekend we visited relatives on Long Island. My uncle has an annual family reunion at his house there. It consists mainly of a lot of food and a lot of relatives. There were fewer people there this year, but the lineup was pretty much the same. Arrival: 7 am. Breakfast, including eggs cooked any way, some sort of pastry, bagels and cream cheese, rolls, bread, bacon, and sausage. There aren’t too many people in the morning. We left at about 9 and went to a local nursing home and did a concert. We get back at about 11:30. By then the pizza guy had arrived; my uncle hires some local guy who owns a restaurant to come and bake pizza in his outdoor brick oven, which is, incidentally, a lot of fun to watch! After that, the relatives start pouring in. People say “Oh, so nice to see you again!” and I think to myself, who exactly are you? Lol, well we meet and re-meet a lot of cousins, some of them probably being 3rd or even 4th cousins. We chat together, moving around from table to table. During the afternoon they bring out lamb, fried squid (actually pretty good!) tripe (I don’t dare try it), burgers, hotdogs, salads, clams, breads, peppers, corn on the cob, and a myriad of other foods. I don’t even try to have some of everything. In the middle of the afternoon, we all gather and start the fava bean shelling contest. Most of you probably don’t know what fava beans are, I think it might be an Italian thing. They are a type of bean (obviously!) which grow in pods; after they are taken out of the pods the individual beans have to be shelled again (‘double shelled‘). We sit down at tables, mostly organized by family and start shelling. We run out of pods and go around to tables asking for more unshelled beans. When we bring the tray into the little outdoor kitchen some guy in there starts eating them. I tell him if he was eating from ours, he had better eat from the rest of them too, but he ignores me. It ends up a three-way tie. After this, a cousin goes to go pick something up and says he will throw me in the pool when he got back. To which, of course, I say “No way!” I laugh, because I don’t think he will. I half consider getting my bathing suit on under my clothes, but I figure he won’t really bother. Besides, it’s just a 12' pool. And it’s hot. And I have a change of clothes. In the meantime, they had start making mozzarella. They started with a big 21 lb block of mozzarella curd and cut it all up. Then they poured nearly boiling water over it and as he stirred it, it started to ball up. Then he kept kneading it, and finally then pulled off pieces of it and make either balls or knots out of it and dunked it in cold water. Yummy! Add a little salt, a piece of tomato, and salad dressing. Ahhh. After this I go to with my dad and sister who were hanging out in the back of the garage (it’s a 6 or 7 car garage that doubles as a very convenient place to have big parties in). There’s some commotion over by the pool. My little brother comes out, fully clothed and crying! Turns out my cousin got a little annoyed by my brother’s squirting nickel (put your face really close to examine it and he squirts water out of the hole in it) so he threw him in. I grabbed onto the chair in front of me and he assures me he won’t push me in now. “You’re too resistant now, you’d just get hurt and that’d be no fun.” Ha. So a few minutes later he says something about “meeting her for real this time” and I say “But I already met your fiance,” and add sarcastically “or do you mean I’m going to meet the pool?”. He just laughs so we start off in the direction of his fiance, which is strangely enough in the same vicinity as the pool. Whooosh. I’m now being carried over his shoulders going quickly in the direction of the pool. I can’t really look around, but I can only guess what’s going to happen .There are about 20 old people sitting on the patio and they go “Aww, don’t do it to her.” and give him dirty looks. But he tells them I had told him it was ok. I sort of did, I guess. Anyhow, I’m wondering what it’s like to be thrown in a pool, when I say very quietly “Uh, I don’t really want to get wet.” I get set down and I’m now on my own two feet. Enter Joey, another cousin (my mom’s cousin, actually). He tries to push Cousin #1 in and he’s not strong enough. Cousin #1 is sort of a body builder type. Lo and behold, he just goes and jumps in the pool. I hear “Now you are going in,” and I get thrown in anyway. So now I know what it’s like to get throw from someone’s shoulders into a pool, in jeans. Thankfully I wasn’t wearing sneakers, I felt bad because the old ladies came up afterwards and said “Oh, how mean!”. It was warm outside, however, and the bus was sweltering hot, so when I went to change I warmed up to just the way I was before I got wet. Now we were ready to eat the pasta and fava. They set up three tables end to end with cheese on it and had three people with big pots of pasts and fava to dish out. It was really good. The closest thing to it that I can think of is cauliflower with shells and peas (with cheese, of course). It is sooo good. After the pasta, they cleared all of it away and started with the desserts, which ended up filling up all three tables if my memory serves correctly. If you come to the party you are supposed to bring a dessert. I don’t feel like eating anymore after the first few tastes of what was there so I put a few more pieces on my plate (to take home), top it with an inverted plate, and set it under the tray of cookies I had made. A few minutes later I come back and someone has taken it. Probably threw it out. L In any case, the party starts winding down after everyone has eaten their fill, and we have to leave - headed for New Jersey. We say goodbye and headed down the street a little ways to hop on the bus. On the way out we drove past the restaurant that did the pizza. The sign says La Magna’s Pizzeria. Someone mentions that it is the restaurant that catered the pizza for the party. I recall images of chef’s wife, her eyeliner stretching far beyond her eyes, like an Egyptian queen; her purple eye shadow matching her shirt - both in color and intensity. The chef’s assistant is sitting crosslegged on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette and coughing. He looks at us a moment as we are stopped at the lights and then he comes running towards us. He throws his arms up and says
“What are you doing on a bus??”
"It’s our bus,” I say - I think he might be drunk. He grins. We pull away and head down the road. Goodbye, Long Island.