Tag Archives: Feast of Saint Joseph

Making Limoncello with Friends and Nina Groppo’s Cucuzza

Groppo limoncello Feast of saint Joseph -2 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Left to right, front: Nina Groppo and Kathy Pratl; back: Jane Beddus and Catherine Gunn

Groppo limoncello Feast of saint Joseph ©Kim Smith 2014

Kathy Pratl limoncello Feast of saint Joseph ©Kim Smith 2014 copyThis past weekend filming continued on the Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project. Nina and Frank Groppo serve the most wonderful homemade limoncello during the Feast and we decided back in March to include limoncello-making in the story of how Saint Joseph’s special day is celebrated in Gloucester. Nina, Kathy, Catherine, and Jane not only graciously agreed to allow filming, but also included me in the preparations and you’ll see what fun we had in the forthcoming film!

Kathy Pratl cucuzza limoncello Feast of saint Joseph ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

While at the Groppo’s garden you can’t help but notice their amazing crop of cucuzza (pronounced ku-koz-za, also goo-gootz), hanging from their handmade arbor. Cucuzza is an Italian squash that from what I understand, in English, means something like “super long squash.” A single squash can grow ten inches in one day!

For our first of several limoncello-making days, Nina created a beautiful lunch. She served cucuzza soup, made from both the fruit and the leaves. It was fabulous and delicious and like no other soup I had sampled before. She also baked wonderfully fresh hake filets and prepared a lovely tomato salad, with heirloom tomatoes from her garden.

Nina described how she hand pollinates the fruit ~ Each plant produces male and female flowers. She explains that it is easy to identify the female flowers as they have a small swollen fruit (ovary) on the stem, just behind the flowers. She plucks the male flowers off the vine and gently brushes together the male’s anther and female’s stigma, the flower’s reproduction parts, which insures good pollination. By removing the male flowers from the vine, you are not eliminating any potential fruit because the male flowers don’t bear fruit.

Cucuzza Groppo ©kim Smith 2014

I have been planning an arbor for my garden patio for sometime and after seeing and tasting the Groppo’s fabulous cucuzza, I am not waiting any longer to build one!

Thank you dear Nina, Kathy, Catherine, and Jane for your continuing help with the Saint Joseph Film Project!

 

 

It’s a Wrap ~ Viva San Giuseppe!

Saint Joseph Feast ©Kim Smith 2014 -2Nina and Frank Groppo

Yesterday, March 19th, The Feast of San Giuseppe was celebrated in Siciliain-American homes throughout Gloucester. Filming concluded last night for Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project at the home of Nina and Frank Groppo.

Saint Joseph Feast ©kim Smith 2014

I arrived shortly after 9:00 am to the Groppo home, already packed full of friends and family prepping and cooking and organizing the house to accomadate the multitudes expected. For fear of missing any wonderful moments, I was sorry to leave even briefly, but I needed to pick up the exquisite Sicilian cassata cake created by Maria, Nina, and Domenic at Caffe Sicilia.

Sicilian cassata cake ©Kim Smith 2014.Sicilian Cassata Cake

Saint Joseph Feast -©Kim Smith 2014. -6 JPGReturning to the Groppos ~ After days of preparation, cooking was in high gear, with enormous pots of Saint Joseph sauce simmering, vats of oil bubbling, and everyone working at their jobs. One of the most amazing aspects of the Groppo feast preparations is that no one person is giving orders; everybody just knows what to do and does their job perfectly!

At 11:30 guests began to arrive, and arrive they did! Literally hundreds of friends and family poured through the Groppo’s welcoming  doors throughout the day.

Saint Joseph Pasta ©Kim Smith 2014After the extraordinary feast–extraordinary for the variety of, and deliciousness of, traditional Sicilian dishes, a feast for several hundred guests, I should add–many stayed for the afternoon; for conversation, coffee, desert, more wine, and tidyng the house for the next wave of family and friends, which began to arrive at 4:30.

The most beautiful of all prayer services was held at 5:00, where at the conclusion everyone stood shoulder to shoulder, holding hands, singing, and praying. Nina gave a most heartfelt speech of thanksgiving and then everyone embraced. The loving spirit of Saint Joseph, and the love and kindness of family and friends sharing a tradition together, was felt by all. And then we ate again, the second feast of the day!

Saint Joseph Feast  -2©Kim Smith 2014.

Filming at the Groppo Family’s Saint Joseph Feast was simply beyond wonderful and I have a trunk full of memories I will treasure all my life. My most heartfelt thanks to Nina and Frank Groppo, and to their their extended Family and Friends for more than just allowing filming during their cherished Feast of Saint Joseph preparations, novena, and feast day, but for for making me feel welcome and completely at home! The thing is, they make everyone feel that way. Many come to the Groppo’s Feast straight away from work, fisherman and marine railway workers eat alongside businessmen in suits, and all are welcome at the Groppo table.

Words cannot accurately express my gratitude and appreciation to all the families that participated in the filming of Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph community film project. My sincerest hope is that the film will hold stories and moments for all to treasure.

Saint Joseph Feast ©Kim Smith 2014-5I think the most challenging part of the upcoming editing is going to be in following the documentary’s screenplay, which I wrote several years ago, about the history and significance of the traditions, while weaving together everyone’s stories, and including all the priceless, spontaneous moments captured on film.

This post is a little hurried and I would like to write more, but it is my son’s 21st Birthday celebration tonight. Time for birthday dinner cooking to get underway. Viva San Giuseppe!!!

Saint Joseph Feast Pasta ©Kim Smith 2014.

Updates will be added periodically to the film’s website: Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Film Project

Making Saint Joseph Altar Bread

Saint Joseph Altar Bread ©Kim Smith 2014Saint Joseph Altar Bread

Viva San Giuseppe! From Virginia (Frontiero) McKinnon

Virginia McKinnon shared her Saint Joseph story last year on GMG. She emailed it to me last night and I thought it would again be a treat to read it on this Saint Joseph’s Day eve.st-joseph-picture0001_thumb

I remember as a child in the 1930’s my neighbor in Gould Ct., Maria Parisi, we affection called “Zia Marrica”  would come to my home with her laundry basket. My Mom would take her little religious statutes from our China cabinet and wrap then carefully and fill her basket, also visiting other homes in the neighborhood, Zia Marrica would set up a very beautiful ornate alter in her home with candles, fresh flowers, a large statue of St. Joseph with many statutes of saints in honor of  St. Joseph. The feast day is celebrated on March 19th every year. Zia Marrica would hold open house for nine days, also inviting the children to recite the rosary and sing the traditional Italian hymns for the novena.  I loved listening to the stories she would tell us of the saints.

Our Pastor Father Kiley went to the superintendent of school and requested the children of Sicilian heritage, be allowed to be dismissed early from school on St. Joseph’s Day to participate in the festivities. I remember going to Zia Marrica’s home. I would sit very quietly as the reenactment  began. The players were orphans. A man representing St. Joseph, a women for Our Blessed Mother and a child for Jesus. The man would knock door three times, requesting food and shelter for his family, during his flight to Egypt. On the third request she would open the door and we would all shout “Viva San Giuseppe, Viva Maria, Gesu‘, Giuseppe” and greet the honored guest very affectionately. When they were seated Zia Marrica would first wash their feet, using a basin of water and towel. The table was filled with all  kinds of delicious food. Three dishes of each food. She spent most of the week cooking and neighbors also brought in food. I remember the honored guest were seated at the table.  All us children sat on the floor and we brought our own spoons. As the honored guest  tasted each dish, the food was passed down for us to enjoy. The first course was the traditional St. Joseph’s pasta.  Homemade pasta with a sauce made of chick peas, fava beans, cauliflower, and fennel. We all took a taste of the food passing the dishing around. In Sicily fava beans were believed to save the people in poor villages from famine, during a drought. They prayed for the intersession of St. Joseph to save them. Fava beans are always kept as a symbol of never being hungry again.

This year I have been  participating in the St. Joseph Novena at my friend, MaryAnn Orlando, home. We  recite the rosary first in English then St. Joseph’s rosary in Italian. We sing the traditional Italian hymns. Shouting “Viva San Giuseppe, and Viva Maria, Gesu‘, Giuseppe” after every hymn. We enjoy a social time and Italian desserts. I asked Mary Ann why she observed this saint’s day. She replied she has continued this custom down from her mother and grandmother.  She stated many people give thanks to St. Joseph for his intercession in answer to prayers and they relate many miracles through the intercession of St. Joseph. She stated her granddaughter was born with spinal bifida and look at that beautiful 13 year old serving people and bouncing with energy and happiness.

Also she stated her nephew was not expected to survive and awoke from a coma, as prayers were being said for him. Her altar is so beautiful. Our prayers are so sincere, I enjoy all the Italian hymns. I remember sitting with my mother and grandmother singing these hymns.  Many homes of Sicilian heritage in Gloucester host this feast every year.

Our parish priest visits each home blessing the altar, flour for making bread and pasta, oranges and lemons.  On the eve of St. Joseph’s day many people will visit for the blessing. A little bag with an orange for sweetness, a lemon for bitterness and a little loaf of bread for sustenance of life. On St. Joseph’s Day a bountiful buffet banquet with  traditional delicious Sicilian food  and wonderful pastry is offered. Each home has open house. All are welcome to attend. My friends, Grace Brancaleone and Katie Fontana also invite me to her homes every year to share in St. Joseph’s Day. I feel our Sicilian community is so blessed and fortunate to continue this wonderful custom.  This custom is celebrated all over this country and also in many parts of the world by people of Sicilian heritage.

Viva San Giuseppe!

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Groppo Family Saint Joseph Day Pasta

Filming continues for Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph community film project, today at the beautifully warm and welcoming home of Nina and Frank Groppo.

Many Hands Helping Feast of Saint Joseph Groppo Family ©Kim Smith 2014Many Helping Hands

Thank you from the bottom of my heart Groppo Family and Friends. I could not have felt more welcomed. Your kindness and good-heartedness reflects the true spirit of the Feast of Saint Joseph tradition.

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph © Kim Smith 2014I arrived at Nina and Frank’s home early this morning, just as Groppo friends and family were beginning to stream through the door, with everyone carrying armfuls of breakfast treats. The first order of business was starting several batches of homemade ricotta cooking on the stove. After filming the ricotta-making, I headed to the garage where the men were getting set up for making pasta. They had prepared the dough the night before and were spreading white cloths on the tables and setting out many hand pasta cranks.

Homemade Ricotta

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph  11 © Kim Smith 2014All morning more and more friends arrived to lend a helping hand. There were perhaps 50-75 people there in the kitchen and in the garage, and all working at super high speed shaping, rolling, flouring, cranking, stacking, and cooking. Mid-morning and it was time to take a break. Nina and her crew fed the entire pasta-making team steaming bowls of the most amazingly delicious fresh ricotta. I had never had freshly made ricotta and after observing how it is made, I would love to give it a try.

Frank Groppo Feast of Saint Joseph © Kim Smith 2014

PASTA Feast of Saint Joseph ©Kim Smith 2014Towering Tiers of Fresh Pasta

One of the tables that Frank and his crew had set up in the garage was for drying the pasta. As batches of pasta were rolled, cut, and floured, they spread the pasta on the tables to dry. The first batches quickly filled the tabletop. The men then placed wooden blocks on the table and retuned from the shed with a new tabletop to stack on top of the first, covered that with a fresh white cloth, and spread the next batch of pasta. This happened eight times, to total a tower of pasta nine tiers high. Extraordinary!!!

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph  -14 © Kim Smith 2014

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph -6 © Kim Smith 2014

After all pasta-making was done, amidst much dancing and merry-making, it was time to eat again! Frank and his crew cooked pasta in the garage, while Nina and her team prepared a large stockpot filled with sauce, which she had made from her homegrown harvest of tomatoes. Everyone crowded around the stove for beautiful aromatic bowls of pasta and red sauce, topped with freshly grated cheese.

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph -7 © Kim Smith 2014JPG

Enzo Groppo Feast of Saint Joseph © Kim Smith 2014

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph © Kim Smith 2014How I wish editing wasn’t so time consuming and that I could share in a flash all the great footage captured today! Stay tuned for more to come.

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph -3 © Kim Smith 2014JPG

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph  -4© Kim Smith 2014

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph -5 © Kim Smith 2014

Groppo Family Feast of Saint Joseph  -4© Kim Smith 2014 -12Everyone Lends a Hand

Continue here for several more photos ~

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