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A Cornmeal Heirloom

A Cornmeal Heirloom
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Less than a week later, I made the pizza without telling Josie. I wanted to surprise her, and if I failed, she never had to know. I agonized over each part of it; was there enough cheese? What will happen when it comes time for the hot water? Finally, becoming exasperated, I just relaxed and let touch guide me. When the pizza was done, I wrapped it carefully in plastic wrap and then in tin foil like Josie did. I gently placed it in a brown paper bag.I tried to calm the rush of my heart as I walked the three blocks to her house. When she answered my knock, I had to hold back from shouting. Instead, I said softly, “Jo, I made cornmeal pizza.” Her eyes glimmered with surprise. “You did? Let me taste!” She broke off a piece and bit into it. I couldn’t hear a sound as she chewed; the world seemed to stand still. “Mumma, this is delicious…buonissima!” My heart leaps whenever I remember the look of pleasure and admiration she measured my way.

Josie’s picture is pasted to the side of my refrigerator where I see it every time I cook. Whenever I make cornmeal pizza, I reach over to kiss her and thank her. I can’t say my pizza always comes out perfectly, but when it does, I balloon with pride, and I know she is somewhere watching, proud of me too.

Cornmeal Pizza

  • 2 1/2 cups of cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup of grated Romano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Mix cornmeal, cheese, and black pepper together. Add olive oil and mix. Slowly add hot water, mixing first with a spoon and then with your hands. Form small patties (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter) and fry them in olive oil in medium heat (about 2-3 minutes on each side) until golden brown.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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11 Responses to A Cornmeal Heirloom

  1. Joyce Cerutti October 7, 2008 at 6:04 am #

    I loved this, made me cry my sentimental Italian tears with joy. Thanks for sharing your precious moments, Lisa G!

  2. debby desimone October 8, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    Anytime I read an article by Lisa G. it takes me away to reality that’s not even mine……

  3. Jill Uva October 9, 2008 at 8:24 am #

    What a beautifully written “ode” to a woman who obviously touched this young girl’s heart and influenced her in many ways. Made me miss my own mother who filled our kitchen with simple yet spectacularly cooked meals, love and true maternal warmth. Thank you for sharing your memories Lisa.

  4. joan lattanzio October 9, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    What a great story … very well written …. could feel the love and passion the writer had for Josie. If only we all had a “Josie” to pass down heirlooms such as these. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story …. Hope the writer has more in store for us!!!

  5. robin rouse October 11, 2008 at 12:07 am #

    Lovely story Lisa. I can almost smell the pizza cooking! I can’t wait to try the recipe myself. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Brittany Bisk October 12, 2008 at 11:36 pm #

    Wonderful, heartfelt story. I have no personal connection to the tale; I’m not Italian, never had a grandmother who I cooked with, and yet the story really touched me. The writer made me feel her beloved memory as my own. Lovely. Thank you Lisa.

  7. Mary Hall October 16, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Fried cornmeal mush, but with a few extras.

  8. Marty Brunskill October 16, 2008 at 3:32 pm #

    Sounds like an interesting lady. I plan on trying the recipe, we eat alot of things made with corn meal.

  9. Deb Lomas October 23, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    I loved the opening description of Josie’s hands and your wonder at her skill in spite of their distortion. “Like a sweet witch’s” is a wonderful picture. Also liked the tension building; “throat dried” ; holding your breath until you got the thumbs up! She seemed like quite the character and obviously an adored!

  10. Carol Weideman October 24, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    This article brushed a broad stroke across my senses. My mouth watered, my heart warmed, and a peaceful bliss fell across my shoulders in relaxing solitude of the moment. Thank you for allowing us to peer into a tender memory that inspires and encourages. It is more than recipe, it is someone dear taking the time to pass on a family treasure. We are richer for it Lisa. Josi remind us the importance of taking time for life’s simple pleasures with family. May we all take a little time to pass on more of the same. Blessings to you and your family over the upcoming holiday season.

  11. Lisa Gurney October 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm #

    Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments! I am happy the piece touched you. I wish Josie were still here. She’d be so pleased.

    I made a special discovery a few days ago. Josie would wear the same “housecoat” whenever she was cooking at our house. I was in the attic, bringing winter clothes down, and in one of the bags was her housecoat. Not sure I can describe how it felt to touch it, smell it, put it on and walk around with my hands in the pockets. It is now my apron – my housecoat.

    Thanks again for reading and posting a comment. It means a lot to this humbled writer!

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