There is an Italian section of The Bronx, usually referred to as “Arthur Avenue,” where you can visit some of the best Italian restaurants in the city and buy the most authentic Italian food. My children (and me, at the time) loved visiting their Italian grandmother who would cook fantastic foods, many purchased on Arthur Avenue, and preside over some of the most memorable meals of their childhood. So Arthur Avenue holds a special place in their memory.
Last week I called my daughter on her wedding anniversary and did not mention it at all. Frankly, I didn’t remember until the day after my call. I felt badly, so before visiting her and her family on Saturday, I went on a shopping trip to Arthur Avenue.
My purchases included bread, “homemade” ravioli and cannolis, which were off limits for me, as well as cheeses, dry sausage, pasta sauce and Chianti, which were fine. I forgot my own pasta so my daughter graciously went out and bought some at her local store -- GF ravioli, in fact. Gone are the days of doing without.
We all had a great meal. Her (Italian) husband was impressed and even her (relatively young) children enjoyed the feast. Everyone was so full, the cannolis were forgotten. I assume they enjoyed them Sunday and I’m fine with the fact that whenever they might be served, all I would get to do is watch.
My daughter said the bread was not quite as good as she remembered, although she admitted she might have idealized it in her memory. She did casually suggest I go back at some point and try one of the other bakeries. Idealizing Arthur Avenue bread is easy to do. When I think of the foods I miss most on the GF diet, Arthur Avenue bread is second on the list just below pizza. But I am not hopeful that anyone will come up with a reasonable facsimile soon. Even wheat-containing bread not made on Arthur Avenue does not measure up to the real thing.
We all had a great time around food, including me, even if I had a few limitations. It seems family, laughter and fond memories trump bread as the staff of life.