EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 21, 2014

'Viva Giu-seeeep-PE!'

The sun came out last Saturday; thermometers showed a little red, and the cultural riches that make Gloucester unique in the world literally shouted and sang.

“Como siamo tutti mute?!” “Viva, Jesus, Maria, Giu-seeeep-PE!”

The St. Joseph’s Day cheer rang out early in the morning at the Tarantino family gathering, where aunt Emma reigned over the preparations of the St. Joseph’s Day Pasta. By 10 a.m., Jimmy, Laurel, Pauline, and Annette were just finishing rolling five pounds of dough through the pasta machine and laying the fresh fettucini on clean fresh sheets in the far bedroom to dry.

Emma’s goranza, an enormous kettle of cauliflower, favas, chickpeas, split peas, lentils and fresh fennel, the sauce that would crown the golden strands of pasta for the final St. Joseph’s Day feast, simmered on the stove.

Sal arrived carrying great plastic bags bulging with fresh St. Joseph’s Day rolls — the large fluffy breads from Virgillio’s that bear a cross and sesame seeds. The sesame seeds represent St. Joseph the carpenter’s sawdust.

Relatives kept arriving, some in the back door, some through the front.

“Como siamo tutti mute?!” “Viva, Jesus, Maria, Giu-seeeep-PE!”

The cheer rang out with each arrival. At 11, while the pasta finished drying, everyone took a break. The table was spread with Octopus Salad, St. Joseph’s rolls, Martha’s antipasto, and oranges, the latter another symbol of the St. Joseph’s Day feast.

The actual St. Joseph’s Day was Wednesday, but as it fell on a weekday this year, the Tarantinos chose to prepare their feast the weekend prior.

Mid-march for some may mean “The Ides,” but in Gloucester it means family crowding into a kitchen, happy about nothing more complicated than being together and carrying on the simple customs that thread years together. Golden strands of fresh pasta drying all over the house, oranges, octopus salad, Virgillio’s St. Joseph’s Rolls, and St. Joseph standing at the top of the shining family altar.

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