CELEBRATING AND REMEMBERING THROUGH FOOD
Some of my fondest memories come from the gathering and eating of food. It’s not JUST the food. It’s the company, it’s the preparation, the fellowship, the smells…it’s a whole experience. I think this is one of the many reasons we use food as a tool for celebration. For example, I HAVE to cook the collards for Thanksgiving. It reminds me of my grandma and the smell in her house. It brings back the sweetest memories imaginable. But through our time moving around in the military, we’ve met some wonderful people. And we’ve shared some great food.
I’ve never been shy about sharing my love of food. I love to cook and love to eat just as much, if not more. In 2008, when we moved from Georgia to New York, life was hard. It was the furthest I’d lived from my parents, I had no friends there, the climate was much different, I had a new baby who had special needs…and I was so homesick for Georgia. Before we even arrived, Joe began scouting the area for restaurants and quickly found Gigi’s.
It was a tiny “hole-in-the-wall”. It didn’t look like much from the inside or the outside, but the moment you walked in, you felt like you were part of his giant Italian family. You felt special and loved. (Just sitting down to write this and remember brings tears to my eyes, because Gigi was special. Very special.)
STEVE WAS SPECIAL
Steve Gigi was very Italian. He always greeted us and told us “I’ll make for you…whatever you want.” And he could. The man could cook. Hands down, I have never had better Italian food in my life than the food we had there. In fact, my husband and I compare all the Italian food we eat now to it. We usually end up saying, “Yeah. It was good, but not Gigi’s good.” I think we will forever say that.
Gigi passed away after a hard battle with cancer this month, and it hurt my heart to know the world will no longer have a Steve Gigi. He was a good man who loved people and food and he made the best Italian food in the world.
I was blessed to get a few recipes from him, and every time I make these recipes I do and will think of him fondly and our conversations and our gatherings at his tiny restaurant in Washingtonville, NY. We took all our visitors there to experience it and even after we left New York, when we would travel north, we would go out of our way to stop through to see Steve and his family.
I love how cooking can stir up fond memories. I cook certain things to remember my grandma…and now I will cook Gigi’s recipes to remember Steve. I’m grateful that our paths crossed and that we have such sweet memories.