Today’s slice was inspired by a dear friend, you definitely know who you are! My Dad and Mom were Italian immigrants who came to the United States as teenagers. Their families knew they each other, but they didn’t find out they were made for each other until their early twenties. It was at that time Italo and Maria Russo exchanged vows and became best friends until death did them apart!
My Dad’s family, The Russo’s, were from the small town of Rende in Cosenza which is located in Calabria, Italy. He comes from a family of 7 siblings which was not easy growing up at that time. Money was scarce so their family decided to journey to America in the 1950’s. They came over by boat to New York City. No one knew what they would find. He had an uncle already here in America which opened some doors for them. They settled in Chicago and he was put to work immediately. He worked in a potato factory and then eventually became a butcher. In the 1970’s he opened his own Meat business which was a huge success! A man with no education and little knowledge of the language brought nothing but success to our lives! He was a great father of 4, terrific husband and loved by so many. We lost my dad in August of 2012 from the horrific disease of ALS. ALS claimed his life, but not his memories!
My Mom’s family, The Baratta’s, were from a small town of Marano Principato in Cosenza which is located in Calabria, Italy. She comes from a family of 7 siblings as well. Her journey to America was a little different. Her family split up and came to America at two different times by boat. She always remembers how tough that boat trip was and how her mother left her behind. She was the oldest of her siblings who came to America with her DAD. Being the oldest and only female, she was responsible for so many everyday tasks for her dad and brothers. Mind you that she was only a teenager and wasn’t with her mom for several years. Well, eventually the whole family had arrived in America. Finally, they were all together.
In 1961, my mom and dad united as husband and wife. The families knew each other and my dad was actually a good friend of my mom’s brother. So, I guess I pretty told you about my heritage! Being 100% ITALIAN is great, I am happy to share my stories with my two children who are 50% Italian and 50% Mexican. Gosh, no wonder they are so Beautiful! Ciao for now!