Natale and Giaquinto

Merry Christmas to all the Molfettesi here in the USA, back home in Italy and all across the world.  Tonight and tomorrow is a time for tombola; panettone; frittelle; and probably opening your gifts at midnight instead of waiting until tomorrow morning.

Adoration of the Magi - Corrado Giaquinto

Since Molfetta is only a few kilometers from Bari, the final resting place of the real Santa Claus, Molfettesi have always had an affection for this holiday. They celebrate with games, food, and sometimes-giant nativity scenes known as “u presépeie.”

In keeping with the Christmas theme, I present the “Adoration of the Magi” by Corrado Giaquinto, one of the greatest artists ever to come out of Molfetta. Born in Molfetta in 1703, Giaquinto went on to paint in Rome, Naples, and Madrid, becoming one of the most important Rococo painters of the early 18th century.

This “Adoration of the Magi” actually has a connection to the Molfettesi community in the United States because it is part of the permanent collection found at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts.

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Frittelle Night 2010!

 Is Christmas the time for gingerbread men, eggnog and fruitcake? Nope! All of those traditional dishes take a back seat to the greatest of all holiday foods: Frittelle!
 

Marge Vezzola learns to make Frittelle

 Now, don’t get me wrong, we all can still enjoy Cooked Goose and Roast Beast but if you want to truly take pleasure in a holiday dish, try making some of these pockets of fried deliciousness.  On Sunday, December 5th, the MHC decided to do just that by celebrating the start of the Christmas season with the first annual “Frittelle Night.”  Helped out by Betty Minervini and Anna Scardigno, two members of the Federazione Molfettesi D’America, our group learned how to make the dough, knead the dough and then shape the dough to form the perfect Frittelle shape.  Several types of filling were available including mozzarella and tomato, ricotta, onions and the always regrettable, empty frittelle with no filling inside.

For dessert, MHC member Robert Gigante showcased the amazing combo of frittelle filled with Nutella.  The initial trepidation of combining these two Italian culinary juggernauts quickly subsided after the first bite.  Frittelle and Nutella is a match made in Molfie heaven.

The Molfetta Heritage Club

The start of frittelle season begins on November 11, which is the feast of Saint Martin of Tours.  Better known as San Martino to Italians, he was a fourth century son of a Roman soldier who later converted to Christianity.  He is also considered the patron saint of wine, soldiers and for some reason, cuckolds…  Every year I ask the older generation why Saint Martin is associated with cuckolds and every year I fail to get an explanation.

Perhaps, this storied tradition has little to do with men and unfaithful wives but rather recounts Saint Martin’s role in denouncing old pagan rituals.  

Frittelle

According to legend, the devil appeared to Saint Martin many times with hopes of tricking him out of his faith.  On one occasion, he showed up with a bloodied bull horn in his right hand signifying how he had killed one of Martin’s followers. After this vision, Saint Martin realized that the horn, always an ancient symbol of fertility, was in actuality a representation of the devil.  As a result, Saint Martin retaliated by destroying pagan temples and all other vestiges of the old horned god.  Today, Molfettesi all over world honor this story by anointing San Martino as the patron saint of “i cornuti” or cuckolds.  I have no idea how that relates to frittelle….

images © R. Gigante & L. La Forgia (2010)

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le Fàtte Nùeste

Summer 2010 – How it started

Cozze Reunion Night

Our original members initially came together under the auspices of La Regione Puglia for a program that enlisted five professionals of Pugliesi descent to visit Puglia and interact with our Italian contemporaries.

We were all sons of Molfettesi immigrants, all college-educated; all still with connections to Molfetta yet complete strangers to one another. The trip to Puglia was a once in a lifetime experience that not only solidified our links with Italy but also expanded our Molfettesi network here in the US.

Halloween at the Magarelli House 10/2010

Since we returned from Italy, our group has held several reunions. Once in September for a Cozze dinner, again in October to celebrate Halloween and recently in November just for the fun of it.  In order to continue the camaraderie felt during our trip to Puglia, our original group of five has decided to expand and create a club for all like-minded individuals. This is the birth of the Molfetta Heritage Club.

All images © Robert Gigante (2010)

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