brain4rent, Family, Food

Mangia! Now, thatsa deliciosa meataball!!! The Time-Honored Tradition of Meatballs.

Dawn in her kitchen, Happily making Italian specialties
Dawn DeFelice Richards in her kitchen, happily making Italian specialties


Think it’s easy being Italian? Well, let me be the one to tell you that we, who are 100% Italian, have an exhausting reputation to uphold! It’s not all mangia and easy meatballs. We must follow the traditions of keeping an immaculate house and warding off excessive guilt and the evil eye, and also preparing our exquisite Italian fare without any short cuts. Each component of every meal is made from scratch using only fresh ingredients. A single dish can take hours to prepare and then for the Sunday meal, a wide assortment of dishes will be offered. And, everybody shows up.

The ingredients that make our meatballs exceptional include fresh garlic cut into small minced pieces by hand with a paring knife, no garlic press, though each piece is no bigger than could be achieved by the press. My family’s secret ingredient is celery leaves, torn into equally tiny bits.

Celery leaf is the secret ingredient in meatballs
Celery leaf is the secret ingredient in meatballs

Such a minuscule portion is needed that my grandmother, on occasion, would pilfer a few leaves from the whole bunch in the store and slip them into her pocketbook reasoning one should not have to buy the whole bunch if only a few leaves were needed! Not recommended…The preparation is as exacting as the ingredients. There are tricks to evenly distributing the seasoning, to dampening the bread, to maintaining cleanliness while cooking.

Why, you may ask, would any sane woman go to all the trouble of taking hours to cook in such a fashion…especially in this day and age?

Baked meatballs gently moved to the sauce
Baked meatballs gently moved to the sauce; never trust a spatula for this job.

Who is willing to put in that kind of dedication when there are plenty of meatballs in the freezer case. Or you can just take out a bowl and throw in some ground beef, sandwich bread, spices, etc. and roll up the subsequent mixture into round “things” called homemade meatballs. A jar of store bought sauce, and dinner is served.

I make my meatballs from the time honored tradition passed down through five generations of my family, because that is our way of acknowledging the importance of family. I prepare meals in hours though the current trend is meals in minutes. Now, let me ask you, with your jarred sauce and pre-made meatballs, will your family rave about your meatballs? Will you know and approve of every fresh ingredient in the mixture?

Meatballs simmering in sauce
Meatballs simmering in sauce

Will your son proclaim your meatballs the food equivalent of a Beethoven symphony? Will your children tell their children about their mother’s fantastic cooking and volunteer to be part of the process of making meatballs for both the knowledge and the companionship? Will your child make only one request, year after year, for his birthday: “Will you make the meatballs, Mom?” Will you be asked time and time again for your recipe only to know that more often than not, once given, the recipe will go unused because it’s just too labor intensive for today’s cooks? Will an editor encourage you to to develop a cookbook combining heritage recipes and family anecdotes?

I think not…..

You’ve been warned, but if you’d still like to try preparing meatballs the old fashioned way with my family’s time tested recipe, email the blog host, and we will email it out in a few day’s time.

Buon Appetito!

© 2013 Guest Blogger Dawn DeFelice Richards

with Photos (c) 2013 by Alison Colby-Campbell

Dawn on the cover of her recently published book.
Dawn on the cover of her recently published book.


The Cancer Table is a small space in the full life of the author, Dawn Dolores DeFelice Richards. In fulfillment of her Italian names, Dolores meaning sad, and DeFelice meaning of happiness, her story will make you cry, laugh, wonder “Why not?” and open yourself up to love and be loved.

Dawn’s perseverance throughout her challenging life carry her through the most difficult times while her energy and self motivation help her attain many of life’s wildest dreams. Through sickness and health, hard times and good, hell and back, her courage and determination are an inspiration for all.

Dawn is anxious to finish this blog so she can start working in earnest on the recipes of her life for  book #2.

4 thoughts on “Mangia! Now, thatsa deliciosa meataball!!! The Time-Honored Tradition of Meatballs.”

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