My father was Italian and my mother was from Texas. Normally Mother dominated the food choices at home. Our family ate southern fried chicken, black eyed peas, collards, turnip greens, corn bread and okra. My father’s family taught Mother how to make a spaghetti sauce and it wasn’t bad. Sometimes around the holidays my father would bring home salami, provolone, capicola, or pepperoni from a place on 9th Avenue near the bus terminal. I guess it was his way to remind the kids of their Italian heritage.
Bacala being de salinated.
One year, as a special treat to the family, he brought home bacala. This is a dried and salted piece of cod fish that dear old Dad ate as a youth in the Bronx. Proudly, he set it up in the basement where he had water dripping over it for three days. Not unexpectedly, Mother was not particularly happy to see this new member of the family. Still, that Christmas Eve a tomato based soup with bacala, garlic, olives, and basil materialized on Mother’s stove on Christmas Eve. As if she didn’t have enough to do.