Tag Archives: Nina Groppo
Left to right, front: Nina Groppo and Kathy Pratl; back: Jane Beddus and Catherine Gunn
This 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Returning 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.
After 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!
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.
I 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!!!
Updates will be added periodically to the film’s website: Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Film Project
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.
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.
I 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.
All 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.
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!!!
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.
Continue here for several more photos ~
Many, many thanks and our deepest appreciation to the Frank and Nina Groppo Family for agreeing to be interviewed and for allowing us to film their beautiful St. Joseph celebrations. While interviewing and during the feast, their wonderful home was overflowing with family and friends, joy and grace. Thank you Groppo Family and Friends!
Left to right front row: Eleonora D’Angelo, Angela Sanfilippo, Agata Groppo, Fina Briguglio, and Maria Sanfilippo.
and Nina “Crocetta” Groppo sitting on Agata’s lap.
Click portrait to view full size image.