Jennifer Guglielmo

Sunday in Queens was a blessing. We were recovering from the death of my twenty-eight year-old mother, who left behind three little ones, aged 2, 4 and me, age 5. We were lost without our mooring, floating in a bitter space of grief, pain, and chaos. Sundays saved us. We piled into the car every week and drove down, through the Bronx and over the Throgs Neck Bridge to my grandma and grandpa's house on 161st Street in Flushing. The door would open to a house packed with loved ones of all ages: cousins, uncles, aunts, girlfriends, boyfriends, the neighborhood priest. The house was always warm and bright. An uncle might be practicing the latest disco move in the living room while Saturday Night Fever blared from the stereo. Others would be playing poker at the dining room table, under a thick cover of cigarette smoke. The kitchen was always full of food: sausages simmering in tomato sauce, green beans glistening with olive oil tossed with garlic and lemon, fresh semolina bread, home-made cheese ravioli, and piles upon piles of Italian pastries. The meal lasted all day and at the end I always dug out my favorite of all pastries from the giant stack: the cannoli. The combination of the crunchy cookie and sweet ricotta filling was intoxicating. Years later I would go in search of the perfect cannoli in Sicily, their birthplace and homeland. We met in Sant'Agata di Militello on the northern shore of the island. A sleepy little town, caught somewhere between the 19th and 20th centuries, where little old ladies still peered suspiciously from behind cracked doors as you walked down their street. It was there I met my most beloved of all cannoli.

"I am a historian/writer/educator, lover of the natural world, with my moon in scorpio. I am currently working with the National Domestic Workers Alliance to bring history into their political education curriculum. I am also on the faculty at Smith College." - Jennifer Guglielmo

Thank you Jennifer, for sharing your memory with is a reminder: that even in the most painful of times we still have moments when we can dive into love and simple pleasures.

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Annie Rachele Lanzillotto

My name is Annie Rachele Lanzillotto and I grew up in the Bronx,

playing on the stoops, sidewalks, and streets. I remember chewing Bazooka bubblegum my whole childhood. I would ride down to the candy store on my banana seat bicycle and for a couple of pennies buy pieces of Bazooka bubblegum. A penny a piece in 1968 on Zerega Avenue in Carly's Candy Store. Bazooka filled my mouth. As my jaw worked the gum, my teeth jammed together. When you opened the Bazooka gum there was a little white powder that came off then that pink color the pink of the Spaldeen--but inside your mouth. And the inside of the wrapper had a comic strip: Bazooka Joe. We saved these comics to mail in for prizes; rings and trinkets.

Even when the sweetness went away there was something about how hard it was to chew it first and then it would mix with your saliva and of course blowing bubbles blowing bubbles. You could see your breath fill the bubble just after you caught the ball. Chewing increased our focus. A mouthful of bubblegum.

As I grew up and became a competitive ballplayer, the Bazooka stayed with me. Through high school and into college, on Division 1 softball teams, I chewed Bazooka. The brim of the baseball hat pulled low on my forehead, and blowing big pink bubbles -- were tools for focusing on the ball. Back to that old adage --- the law of the jungle--if you're eating you're not being eaten. Chewing, kept me ready for the ball coming at me. Chewing gave me courage and tenacity. I fought hard to not let the ball get by me.

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Updated: Mar 8, 2020

By Leeming Wordsman

Here is a food memory that won't stop haunting me. I was 18 and it was spring break of my freshman year in college. My family drove from San Francisco to Baja California making stops along the way. It was a horrible trip. My sister and I weren't getting along and my dad was an active alcoholic drinking all the time, even when we were driving. The furthest point south that we got to was Ensenada, No Cabo or Puerto Vallarta for me. Ensenada was sort of renowned as a fishing port. One afternoon my mom and sister went one way and my dad and I went the other. We found ourselves hungry and walking around a foreign city. We came upon a street vendor that was selling fish tacos. I had never had or heard of a fish taco but it sounded good to me. As I waited, the vendor would drop pieces of battered fish into what looked like a wok filled with hot oil. The fish would brown and crisp in no time and then he would slap the pieces into a tortilla and hand them to me. There was a fixings bar along the side of the vendor's stand (think NYC hot dog vendor). The fixings were salsa, onion, cilantro, lime, queso, tomato, pepper, and what I think must have been crema mexicana or maybe sour cream (but lighter). One bite and I was transported to heaven. When I tell you that this was one of the top five meals that I have ever had, I am completely serious. I have eaten at Le Bernadin (which many consider the best seafood restaurant in the U.S.) and the meal that I had that day on the sidewalk with my dad was easily better. Fresher, more flavorful and substantially cheaper. Mexico had only recently devalued the peso and as a result, U.S. dollars were worth a lot. My dad and I each had seven tacos and memory tells me that we spent about 75 cents that afternoon (5 cents per taco). While that trip is one that I never recall fondly (I don't remember much else that happened) and my relationship with my dad was beginning to fall off the cliff,

that day we had an experience that we both remember and recall frequently. I can remember standing on the sidewalk and what the stand looked like but I don't recall anything else that we did that afternoon.

by Leeming Wordsman, Yonkers, N.Y.

I grew up in Westchester County and went to college in California in the early eighties. After college, I returned to N.Y. and have spent the last 30 something years employed in the environmental science/disaster recovery field. I'm a father of three wonderful daughters and I love being their dad more than anything in the world. P.S. my dad got sober and died in 2014 with over 20 years sobriety. I've been sober myself for the past 7+ years.

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