“Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.”

Winter arrived yesterday. It was 35˚ last night, and I had to wear a jacket for the first time as the wind made it feel even colder. Today is also cold but not as cold as it was, but winter won’t staying long. The weird weather we’ve been having will be back by Christmas. It could reach 60˚ here.

The play was great fun. Christmas on the Air was about a radio station at Christmas in 1949. There was a bit of drama, a few laughs and some wonderful Christmas carols. Dinner afterwards, at Felicia’s, was delicious. We started with shrimp and then both had fettuccine Alfredo and I ordered a side of sausage. Frank Sinatra played in the background just as he should. The place was crowded, no empty tables. The festivities have begun.

My neighbor and his three boys delivered pumpkin bread this morning. They also have a baby girl born last July, but Tiffany found time to make bread for all the neighbors.

I find myself filled with feelings of nostalgia this year. Riding through the square of my old home town brought back a flood of memories. The store fronts mostly look the same, but the stores are different. I called out their names as I went by. Hank’s Bakery is now an extension of the restaurant next door to it. I don’t remember the name of the store the restaurant replaced as I never shopped there. It had fruits, vegetables and cold cuts. The Middlesex Drug is now a butcher shop. My sister said it is expensive. The Children’s Cornet is now an Indian restaurant. My sister and I ate them and it was good except for the green sauce which burned my mouth.

The square is all lit for Christmas. Each tree has white lights and the town green, a new spot to me, has a beautiful lit tree of colored bulbs and an ice skating rink not yet opened. The fire station had Santa on the old police station roof. He used to be on the siren tower.

So much in my old home town has changed but so much somehow stays the same.

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20 Comments on ““Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.””

  1. Richard Says:

    We’re gettin’ closer and closer to (say what?) … ‘winter.’ Actually, I’m coming to the conclusion that ‘winter’ is a fiction people are playing on us all this year. We’re supposed to hit 70° on Christmas Day. Santa better be wearin’ some Speedos for his Southern trips.

    Dinner at Felicia’s sounds absolutely great. Anything with ‘Alfredo’ in its name is automatically good. Hell, I could open a bottle of something called ‘AJAX Alfredo’ and I’d take a taste just to make sure. Y’ know, there’s just something about Francis Albert that fits this time of year, much the way Guy and his Royal Canadians fit New Year’s Eve. It’s just right.

    I do so hope my daughter makes more pumpkin bread for Christmas. It’s absolutely excellent, and the taste fits the times.

    We have, unfortunately, lost one of the best-ever ‘time machine’ places to be found in Memphis. It was called Wiles-Smith Drugstore, and walking thru its doors was like being transported back to the ’50s. A real ‘old-time’-y malt shop with menu to match as well as a gen-u-wine lunch counter. Doc finally closed it up ‘cuz he’d been robbed four times by Thugsta Juniors lookin’ for quick ‘n free highs on Doc’s dime. Usually they only went for Oxycontin, but they grabbed whatever wasn’t locked down, too.

    I do believe I’ll take a ride to use one of my few remaining 2-for-1 McD’s coupons before they expire on the 31st. Wish I had another of the Bacon, Egg ‘n Cheez ones, but they only put one on the page. I’ll find something else to get. It’ll be a short there-and-back trip, ‘cuz that’s about as long as the back will let me sit upright before letting me know in no uncertain terms ‘I don’t play dat!’ … meaning I should once more assume the recumbent (preferably reclining) position, after which it once more ‘plays nice’ with other body parts.

    The following may not be a traditional ‘holiday’-type musical piece, but has a ‘feel’ that fits the season. Some may think it ‘maudlin.’ but I think of it as a form of remembrance for those not with us to celebrate the day. In that sense, it gives new meaning to the term ‘rebirth,’ however unintended it may be …

    • Kat Says:

      Richard,
      The music is beautiful! Thank you for the posting.

      I agree that winter is a bit delayed. This is his second day here, but he’ll not stay long, already packing to leave tomorrow. Santa will want a sweatshirt here as the nights do get a bit cooler.

      Felicia’s has its original restaurant in the north end of Boston so it is decidedly Italian. They bring wonderfully soft, fresh Italian bread and seasoned oil to start dinner. We have a limoncello after dinner- a perfect ending.

      No McDonald’s in Dennis. We have a Burger King and three Dunkin’ Donuts. The town has an ordinance limiting the number of drive-up windows so McDonald’s has to hope a bank fails as it can’t construct. The limit has been reached. I love my town and the way it is protected.

  2. flyboybob Says:

    One of the nice things about this time of the year one can partake of the various holiday traditions. This morning we had the pleasure of enjoying one of the Mexican Christmas traditions, eating tamales. I don’t know if they are a real Mexican tradition or just a Tex-Mex tradition. My better half brought home freshly made tamales from the Central Market grocery store. We had two types, beef and pork tamales as well as chicken tomatillo. Personally, I didn’t like the chicken tomatillo ones as much because they were too hot, i.e. peppery. I have a tenderfoot mouth for hot food. 🙂

    Tamales from Northern Mexico are wrapped in corn husks. When we were vacationing in Cancun Mexico, they wrapped their tamales in banana leafs. To eat the tamale you must first unwrap the husk or leaf to get to the tamale. The hotel had a buffet breakfast and had wonderful banana leaf wrapped tamales. A guest from the UK asked me what I was taking and I replied that they were tamales. He asked if they were good and I replied that they were excellent. He took one back to his table and tried to cut into the banana leaf without any success. I walked over to him and explained that he had to remove the wrapper first.

    Because my family emigrated from Eastern Europe we traditionally eat potato pancakes for Chanukah called latkes. Jews who’s family emigrated from Turkey or the middle east eat jelly doughnuts, called sufganiyot.

    Do any of the coffee friends have a holiday tradition different from the typical American one of eating another Turkey dinner? How many of the coffee friends open the gifts on Christmas Eve and how many open them on Christmas morning?

    • Kat Says:

      Bob,
      I do love Mexican food. I have a bit more tolerance for hot food than you, but I’m not a fan of super hot as I can’t taste the food, only the hot. My sister has a family get-together on Christmas Eve, and she always has tamales from a Mexican restaurant in town.

      I don’t ever find any in banana leaves. They are generally in corn husks. The cape hasn’t many Mexican restaurants and most are mediocre. Colorado has quite a few and the food is delicious.

      I love latkes and I’ll toot my own horn and say I make tasty latkes. I haven’t ever heard of sufganiyot, but I like the sound of fresh doughnuts filled with jelly.

      I don’t ever have turkey at Christmas. Growing up my family did but then when we were older my mother cooked some sort of roast. A crown rib roast is beautiful as is crown pork. I once served goose when I made a Victorian feast. My last Christmas meal wa that crown pork with stuffing in the middle and frilly white ends for the bone tips.

      We are a Christmas morning family though my mother and I used to be the only ones up late on Christmas Eve when we’d each open one we thought the other would love. My niece and nephew have kids who still believe in Santa so it is Christmas morning for them. We are a Santa doesn’t wrap gifts family.

      • Bob Says:

        I have never seen tamales in the U.S. wrapped in banana leaves only on the Yucatan peninsula. Someone told me they are made that way in some Central American countries. Another favorite of mine are stuffed grape leaves, dolmas.

        Sufganiyot, is an English transliteration of the Hebrew word for doughnuts, essentially they are deep fried dumplings. There is nothing as good as a cup of strong chicory laced coffee and powdered sugar covered beignets served at the Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

      • Kat Says:

        Bob,
        I am not a grape leaves fan though I do love Greek and Middle Eastern foods.

        Africa had banana leaves but they used them to wrap raw food like the meat I bought at the market. I don’t know of any cooked food wrapped in them.

        They sound great no matter what they are called.

    • Birgit Says:

      Bob,
      gifts on Christmas Eve here. I don’t really care for traditions (dysfunctional childhood family) but I won’t change this tradition. I will also attend a very traditional catholic service on Christmas Eve. I’m neither a catholic nor do I believe in any god but my friend’s chorus will sing, good music but the most boring and un-joyful cleric I’ve ever heard. Shouldn’t a birthday celebration be joyful?
      Usually we have my favorite meal on Christmas Eve or first Christmas day, salmon with spinach and potatoes, but last year’s salmon was so bad that we might have something different this year. Carp and goose are traditional Christmas Day meals here, both not my favorites. Christmas morning just means to sleep in. We have two Christmas holidays and people usually visit their relatives on these days. Not me, no family left in reachable distance.

      • Bob Says:

        That’s a great tradition to attend a Catholic Church for spiritual purposes. Also, it covers your bet in case you are wrong about the existence of the deity. 🙂

      • Kat Says:

        Bob,
        I love midnight masses. Usually the choir sings, people are excited for Christmas, the priest wears white vestments and the altar is filled with poinsettias.

    • T Says:

      Bob

      Spouse and I grew up with the traditional Christmas food. In the years since we’ve left our nuclear familys–turkey and cranberry have been replaced with latkes, spring rolls, dolmades, tamales, borscht, venison, pizza, moussaka, halibut, stuffed shrimp and that all time favorite tender smoked pork. Not all of these every year. But we do love to vary the menu! And add new stuff. Everything with sauces and spices—in one way or another. We serve a great hot buttered rum. And plum pudding.

      Gifts with our children are on Christmas morning. Carrots and cookies are left for reindeer and Santa on Christmas eve. Music ranges from the choirs to the chrooners to the crazies.

      Merry Christmas!

      • Kat Says:

        T,
        Okay, I’d love to be a guest at your table!

        I will be at my sister’s for Christmas so I’ll get to enjoy her cooking. My brother-in-law smokes meats and pizzas and all sorts of stuff so I’m looking forward to what he’ll smoke.

  3. olof1 Says:

    We reached 51,8 today and the old warmth record almost got broken in many parts of the country, it was just as warm 1977 on christmas eve. I like it since it doesn’t rain but the winds are building up again and in the two coming days three low pressures will pass.

    I rarely feel nostalgic, if I do it happens during summer since most fun things happened then when I was younger, still do I think.

    Lots of Americans write about pumpkin bread now and I have no idea how it tastes since we don’t have it here. I have had pumpkin tea but not bread 🙂

    Too long since I was at a play and the one You saw sounds great and the dinner would be something I would like 🙂

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

    • Kat Says:

      Christer,
      It is cold and it is getting darker so it feels even colder. We’re finally done with rain after 2 days of it. I’m complaining about the cold when really I should still be amazed by how warm it has been. We may break a record on Christmas Day.

      I’m thinking I get more nostalgic as I age. I love my life now, but I do remember my childhood and how much fun I had.

      After Christmas, I’ll see if I can send you a can of pumpkin. I’ll send a recipe so you can try pumpkin bread. It is moist and tasty.

      I go to plays all summer, but it is the Christmas play I most look forward to seeing. It is a great time with my sister.

      Have a wonderful day!

  4. lilydark Says:

    Kat,
    Since our family celebrated Hanukkah, we had a nice meal on the first night we lit the first candle, and said the blessing. I don’t recall if we ate a “traditional” meal, which would have been, latkes ( I doubt it ) it was probably brisket with little potatoes and a vegetable. Or something equally as festive. Then we opened our main holiday gift. The other nights we still celebrated, but the gifts were smaller– may a silver dollar.. oh dear my memory is fading. I do know at one point when we were younger we hung up Hanukkah stocking.

    One of my favorite gifts, when I was young, was an electric car, that I could actually get into and drive! Vrooom! It was shiny red, and I was very surprised.

    Sometimes people here, go out for Chinese food and go see a movie. I don’t know what I’ll be doing this year.

    This year I went to festive hanukkah party, where they lit a very large menorah, saw the Agatha Christie play, the Mousetrap, which I really enjoyed.

    Happy Holidays,
    Lori and her weird crew.

    • Bob Says:

      The tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas for Jews was because in those days them only restaurants that were open on Christmas were those owned by the Chinese. The same for the movies, they were open. Today many business open late on Christmas Day. BTW the first time I heard about Jews going to the movies on Christmas Day was from an ‘Arthur’ kids TV show on PBS, called ‘Arthur’s Perfect Christmas’. We watch it along with ‘A Christmas Story’ every Christmas Day before ordering Chinese food. 🙂

  5. lilydark Says:

    I thought I’d put a Vienna Teng song here. Since she is my current favorite. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4wVRcE5gIs#t=32

    She has a clear voice like Sheyrl Crow, and so many of the female artists that I like.

    Cheers!


  6. HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR IN 1908 OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), NOW SERVED BY HIS NEPHEW INES DI LELIO, AT THE RESTAURANT “IL VERO ALFREDO” – “ALFREDO DI ROMA” IN ROME, PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE 30

    With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo”, this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo”.
    I must clarify that other restaurants “Alfredo” in Rome (as Alfredo alla scrofa or Alfredo’s gallery) do not belong and are out of my brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Ines Di Lelio

    IN ITALIANO
    STORIA DI ALFREDO DI LELIO, CREATORE DELLE “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), E DELLA SUA TRADIZIONE FAMILIARE PRESSO IL RISTORANTE “IL VERO ALFREDO” (“ALFREDO DI ROMA”) IN PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE A ROMA

    Con riferimento al Vostro articolo ho il piacere di raccontarVi la storia di mio nonno Alfredo Di Lelio, inventore delle note “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”).
    Alfredo Di Lelio, nato nel settembre del 1883 a Roma in Vicolo di Santa Maria in Trastevere, cominciò a lavorare fin da ragazzo nella piccola trattoria aperta da sua madre Angelina in Piazza Rosa, un piccolo slargo (scomparso intorno al 1910) che esisteva prima della costruzione della Galleria Colonna (ora Galleria Sordi).
    Il 1908 fu un anno indimenticabile per Alfredo Di Lelio: nacque, infatti, suo figlio Armando e videro contemporaneamente la luce in tale trattoria di Piazza Rosa le sue “fettuccine”, divenute poi famose in tutto il mondo. Questa trattoria è “the birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    Alfredo Di Lelio inventò le sue “fettuccine” per dare un ricostituente naturale, a base di burro e parmigiano, a sua moglie (e mia nonna) Ines, prostrata in seguito al parto del suo primogenito (mio padre Armando). Il piatto delle “fettuccine” fu un successo familiare prima ancora di diventare il piatto che rese noto e popolare Alfredo Di Lelio, personaggio con “i baffi all’Umberto” ed i calli alle mani a forza di mischiare le sue “fettuccine” davanti ai clienti sempre più numerosi.
    Nel 1914, a seguito della chiusura di detta trattoria per la scomparsa di Piazza Rosa dovuta alla costruzione della Galleria Colonna, Alfredo Di Lelio decise di trasferirsi in un locale in una via del centro di Roma (via della scrofa), ove aprì il suo primo ristorante che gestì fino al 1943, per poi cedere l’attività a terzi estranei alla sua famiglia.
    Ma l’assenza dalla scena gastronomica di Alfredo Di Lelio fu del tutto transitoria. Infatti nel 1950 riprese il controllo della sua tradizione familiare ed aprì, insieme al figlio Armando, il ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” (noto all’estero anche come “Alfredo di Roma”) in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 (cfr. il sito web di Il Vero Alfredo).
    Con l’avvio del nuovo ristorante Alfredo Di Lelio ottenne un forte successo di pubblico e di clienti negli anni della “dolce vita”. Successo, che, tuttora, richiama nel ristorante un flusso continuo di turisti da ogni parte del mondo per assaggiare le famose “fettuccine all’Alfredo” al doppio burro da me servite, con l’impegno di continuare nel tempo la tradizione familiare dei miei cari maestri, nonno Alfredo, mio padre Armando e mio fratello Alfredo. In particolare le fettuccine sono servite ai clienti con 2 “posate d’oro”: una forchetta ed un cucchiaio d’oro regalati nel 1927 ad Alfredo dai due noti attori americani M. Pickford e D. Fairbanks (in segno di gratitudine per l’ospitalità).
    Un aneddoto della vita di mio nonno. Alfredo fu un grande amico di Ettore Petrolini, che conobbe nei primi anni del 1900 in un incontro tra ragazzi del quartiere Trastevere (tra cui mio nonno) e ragazzi del Quartiere Monti (tra cui Petrolini). Fu proprio Petrolini che un giorno, già attore famoso, andando a trovare l’amico Alfredo, gli disse che lui era un “attore” della cucina romana nel mondo e gli consigliò di attaccare alle pareti del ristorante le sue foto con i noti personaggi soprattutto dello spettacolo, del cinema e della cultura in genere che erano ospiti di “Alfredo”. Anche questa è una bella tradizione di famiglia che continuo a rendere sempre viva con affetto ed entusiasmo.
    Desidero precisare che altri ristoranti “Alfredo” a Roma (come Alfredo alla scrofa o Alfredo’s gallery) non appartengono e sono fuori dal mio brand “Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma”.
    Vi informo che il Ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” è presente nell’Albo dei “Negozi Storici di Eccellenza – sezione Attività Storiche di Eccellenza” del Comune di Roma Capitale.
    Grata per la Vostra attenzione ed ospitalità nel Vostro interessante blog, cordiali saluti
    Ines Di Lelio

    • katry Says:

      Ines,
      This is an extraordinary story. I am so amazed by the origin of Fettucini Alfredo. I figured someone named Alfredo invented the dish, but now I know the true story. You must be so proud to be carrying on the the tradition of your family. You even have cutlery with history.

      I was last in Rome about ten years ago. I wish I had known about your restaurant. I certainly will next.

      Thank you so much for telling us about your family and your family’s famous dish.


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