Monday, March 24, 2008

Prospect Street Born and Bread

So I had this whole plan to document the Center Family Easter Bread tradition and of course I forgot to bring the camera to the festivities thus rendering this post pictureless and lackluster. Friday night was full of restless sleep as John came down with the flu. He moaned in pain and had the chills until early morning. We have both been fighting a sinus infection/head cold for the better part of last week and so finally we made our way to the doctors Saturday morning, missing the first half of the Easter Bread doings and forgetting our camera as we packed up Luke to enjoy the morning without us. Turns out John had a temperature of 103 and a double ear infection, I was luckily not quite that bad and was diagnosed with a textbook sinus infection. We were given prescriptions and John was told he'd feel better in probably four days and was to return in two weeks for a re-check. We left for Rite Aid but of course the scripts wouldn't be ready for an hour so I brought him home to sleep and off I went to partake in some bread breaking.

This Easter Bread tradition dates back to well, I don't know how long, but my father's mother made it for her kids every Easter and it grew into a neighborhood tradition. My grandmother Grace Celeste Center grew up on the same street that I did, two houses from my childhood home. My father was also born on the street and lived there for a bit before the family moved to Dix Avenue. Prospect Street was the heart of the Italian East End, nearly every home is equipped with a wine press and most grew their own grapes, had lavish gardens and tended to chicken coupes. It was a community in and of itself, one day a year they all got together to crush the grapes that made their wine. Legend has it (as I was told by Helen Pozzulli, her sister was my grandmother's maid of honor and she too spent the first 80-something years of her life on Prospect St.) that one family owned the grape crusher, so the neighbors spent one day crushing all the grapes together. I've listened to all sorts of familal tales of illegal gambling, and mob-type doings centered around this tight-knit guinea commune. I have such fond memories of summer days riding my bike up the big hill and visiting with widowed neighbors listening to their stories of the old days.

So anyway, my parents married and moved our family across town from 3rd Street to Prospect Street, back in my father's territory and the tradition of sharing Italian Easter Bread with the neighbors on Holy Saturday began. The smell of the pugent parmesean cheese mixed with the strong aroma of black pepper floating in the air, the thick yeasty clouds infusing your clothes with the heavy smell. It reminds me of home, of laughter, of cute little old ladies longing for days gone by sharing their memories. Coffee cups cling and the steam from the baking bread fogs the kitchen windows, our house is full of blessings and family. It's truly the most special tradition. One that I wish I had pictures of to share.

Thankfully John is on the fast-track to better health. We best have a healthy spring and summer, we've met our quota of sickness for the year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your families, happy spring:) Salut!

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Ah, family traditions. Your post reminds me of the feeling I get when I think about being with my family in Cape May. I need to take more pictures this year!!