My Grandmother immigrated to the U.S. as a young mother from Bracigliano, a town in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of Southwestern Italy and just below the Bay of Naples. My Grandparents left Italy hoping for a better life for their growing family as so many did. They arrived through Ellis Island with 3 of her 5 children. My Dad and Uncle Dom were born in Springfield, MA, where the family settled. My Grandmother ended up widowed during the time my Dad was in the service, so I unfortunately, never met my Grandfather. A lot of them are sadly deceased now, and it’s marked the end of an era, but my Cousins are all still in that area… I’m the black sheep who left the area!
My Gram always made her own pastas and sauces. I remember as a little girl, I absolutely adored her fresh tortellini.
She lived with my Aunt, Uncle and my two cousins, Mike and Johnny John. Her bedroom was situated in the middle of the house and had two entrances. I loved helping her make them, but I loved even more swiping them off her bed as they were drying out! They were like candy to me!
My cousins and I would turn into tortellini bandits and organize a “tag team” by one of us running through one door of her bedroom and swipe a luscious stuffed pocket and run out the other door with her chasing them with a dish towel. While she was busy chasing one of us, the next would follow behind and swipe one, and on and on it went until we all got so tired from running, being chased, laughing and just plain stuffed! We always took turns who was the first to attack the tasty bites because the snap of her kitchen towel on the backs of our legs would sting! Johnny was the youngest, so he got to be the sacrificial lamb the most… Sorry John!
She always pretended to be angry with us, but I caught her trying to hide her smile a couple of times. And let’s face it… she could have locked the other door and put the key in her pocket at any time. Looking back, I’m sure now she enjoyed the game as much as we did.
I can’t look at a tortellini to this day without recalling that fabulous memory. I don’t have her exact recipe, but with a little research, and some trial and error, I’ve managed to come close!
My family used these traditionally in a wonderful chicken broth, and the dish was called Tortellini en Brodo.
I’ve given you a recipe here for the pasta and filling that is pretty close to my Grandmother’s recipe. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. The best food, in my opinion, is that which evokes memories. Buon Appetito!