Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Taste of Italy

All through my growing up years my family would always go to the Italian feasts in the North End of Boston. They were something I always looked forward to, a real treat. There would be food booths, miniature carnival rides, and a parade honoring the patron saint that particular feast commemorated. Our family favorite was the Feast of Saint Anthony, which, if I recall correctly, was the last weekend in August.

The highlight of the parade was always the statue of the Saint reverently carried for all to see. People would tape dollar bills to the statue as it made its way along the parade route. It was truly a special experience, one that has left an indelible mark in my memory.

So it was with tremendous surprise when I learned that the Los Angeles Historic Italian Hall Foundation was having its first annual “Taste of Italy” event. I immediately purchased the $25 ticket. Proceeds from the event went to the soon-to-be-opened Italian Hall Museum.

The event was held at the Pico House of the El Pueblo Historic Monument in downtown Los Angeles. There were numerous Italian food and wine booths set up with food samples from many of the Italian restaurants and wineries in and around Los Angeles. To say it was delicious is an understatement.

Along with a silent auction and a drawing for a free trip to Italy (which I did not win, damn) the crowd was entertained by a group of Italian opera singers, and Italian folk music. One of the highlights was an older man playing accordion while people sang along. Memories of my childhood came flooding back and I felt like that suburban Italian/Irish kid standing on the streets of the North End in total awe.

After the show we sat outside under the stars to enjoy cappuccinos, freshly baked biscotti, pizzelles, and conversation. It was a lot of fun.

“Taste of Italy” was a step back in time for me, and also a step into the future with the Italian community of Los Angeles. I await next year’s event, and the opening of the Italian Hall Museum.

For more information about the history of Italians in Los Angeles click here.

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