Chapter 50: Calabrese Care Packages

When I think of care packages, I think of American college students or military personnel getting special treats from home–cookies, cakes, candies.

Here’s a posting describing another type of care packages–these for displaced Calabresi, forced to live elsewhere to find employment. It comes from one of my favorite Facebook pages Io sono calabrese e sono fiero (I’m Calabrese and I’m proud).

“Per noi Calabresi che viviamo al nord. Il giorno piu’ bello del mese non e’ il 10 che prendiamo la busta paga, Ma e’ quello quando ci arriva il pacco dalla nostra terra! Lo apri e la casa si riempie di profumo !!!”

“For us Calabresi who live up north. The most beautiful day of the month is not the 10th when we get our paychecks. But, it’s when our packages arrive from back home. You open them and the house fills up with its aroma.”

In the picture boasting a variety of olio santo, giardiniera, peperoncini secchi, peperoncini a treccia, dolci pensieri, la bomba, and other Calabrese delices. For us, these are focu nuastru (our fire)!

Most Americans think Italy features one cuisine–“Italian food” or “Italian cooking”. Wrong! There are as many cuisines as there are regions and provinces.

For us Calabresi who live in Milano (my cousin Caterina) or Hamburg (my cousin Rosario) or in San Diego, local food is way too bland. “Care packages” from home spice up food but also revive memories of our roots, memories of our loved ones whom we see with less and less frequency.

They are the ties that bind, a small but powerful antidote to immigration.


About growingupcalabrese

Professor of French and Italian at San Diego State University
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