A wonderful evening at Sista Felicia’s for San Giuseppe. The food was amazing as always.
A wonderful evening at Sista Felicia’s for San Giuseppe. The food was amazing as always.
This year the Groppo’s are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Saint Joseph honoring Nina’ s mother, Di Gaetano Vincenza. Tomorrow night, Thursday, the nine day novena begins and all are most sincerely welcome at the home of Nina and Frank Groppo.
Saturday is Saint Joseph pasta-making day at the Groppo’s and it is the most fun, with everyone lending a hand, from the oldest granny to the youngest child.
Caffe Sicilia’s Maria Cracchiolo is returning from vacation on Saturday and special orders for her beautiful bread can be placed then. You can see a demonstration of how she expertly shapes the Saint Joseph altar bread here.
Yesterday, March 19th, The Feast of San Giuseppe was celebrated in Siciliain-American homes throughout Gloucester. Filming concluded last night for Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project at the home of Nina and Frank Groppo.
I arrived shortly after 9:00 am to the Groppo home, already packed full of friends and family prepping and cooking and organizing the house to accomadate the multitudes expected. For fear of missing any wonderful moments, I was sorry to leave even briefly, but I needed to pick up the exquisite Sicilian cassata cake created by Maria, Nina, and Domenic at Caffe Sicilia.
Returning to the Groppos ~ After days of preparation, cooking was in high gear, with enormous pots of Saint Joseph sauce simmering, vats of oil bubbling, and everyone working at their jobs. One of the most amazing aspects of the Groppo feast preparations is that no one person is giving orders; everybody just knows what to do and does their job perfectly!
At 11:30 guests began to arrive, and arrive they did! Literally hundreds of friends and family poured through the Groppo’s welcoming doors throughout the day.
After the extraordinary feast–extraordinary for the variety of, and deliciousness of, traditional Sicilian dishes, a feast for several hundred guests, I should add–many stayed for the afternoon; for conversation, coffee, desert, more wine, and tidyng the house for the next wave of family and friends, which began to arrive at 4:30.
The most beautiful of all prayer services was held at 5:00, where at the conclusion everyone stood shoulder to shoulder, holding hands, singing, and praying. Nina gave a most heartfelt speech of thanksgiving and then everyone embraced. The loving spirit of Saint Joseph, and the love and kindness of family and friends sharing a tradition together, was felt by all. And then we ate again, the second feast of the day!
Filming at the Groppo Family’s Saint Joseph Feast was simply beyond wonderful and I have a trunk full of memories I will treasure all my life. My most heartfelt thanks to Nina and Frank Groppo, and to their their extended Family and Friends for more than just allowing filming during their cherished Feast of Saint Joseph preparations, novena, and feast day, but for for making me feel welcome and completely at home! The thing is, they make everyone feel that way. Many come to the Groppo’s Feast straight away from work, fisherman and marine railway workers eat alongside businessmen in suits, and all are welcome at the Groppo table.
Words cannot accurately express my gratitude and appreciation to all the families that participated in the filming of Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph community film project. My sincerest hope is that the film will hold stories and moments for all to treasure.
I think the most challenging part of the upcoming editing is going to be in following the documentary’s screenplay, which I wrote several years ago, about the history and significance of the traditions, while weaving together everyone’s stories, and including all the priceless, spontaneous moments captured on film.
This post is a little hurried and I would like to write more, but it is my son’s 21st Birthday celebration tonight. Time for birthday dinner cooking to get underway. Viva San Giuseppe!!!
Updates will be added periodically to the film’s website: Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Film Project
Artists-in-the-Kitchen Maria Cracchiolo, and her parents Domenic and Nina Damico, demonstrate how to create beautiful bread in shapes symbolic of Saint Joseph and inspired by nature. Watch as Maria, Nina, and Domenic artfully shape angels, a carpenter’s saw, San Giuseppe scroll, Saint Joseph sun, snails, flowers, butterflies, grapes, and more.
Many thanks to Sefatia Romeo Thekan for the suggestion to contact Maria and family to interview for Gloucester’ Feast of Saint Joseph film project.
For improved viewing experience, click off the Vimeo HD icon in the bottom right hand corner and the video will load much more quickly.
As you will hear Maria’s story unfold (while deftly shaping the dough), her family’s tradition of making the Saint Joseph altar bread began several years ago, for a very heartfelt reason. In 2010, her young daughter was facing a very serious operation. Maria had never made the special Saint Joseph bread, but decided that year to make it her devotion to Saint Joseph. Maria taught herself how to shape the bread, finding inspiration in old photos of altars, and also from images, which she found online, of bread made in Sicily. Maria lived in Italy for five years, attending art school and studying fashion design. When I write “Artists-in-the Kitchen” you’ll see why after viewing the video.
Both of Maria’s parents, Nina and Domenic, were born in Sicily and grew up celebrating the Feast of San Giuseppe in the Sicilian tradition of feeding the poor and orphaned, and welcoming all who came to their table. Thank you Maria, Domenic, and Nina for graciously welcoming me into your Caffe Sicilia’s kitchen!
Saint Joseph Bread is available by special order at Caffe Sicilia. Call to place your order at (978) 283-2345
See previous posts related to Caffe Sicilia:
Filming continues for Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph community film project, today at the beautifully warm and welcoming home of Nina and Frank Groppo.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Groppo Family and Friends. I could not have felt more welcomed. Your kindness and good-heartedness reflects the true spirit of the Feast of Saint Joseph tradition.
I arrived at Nina and Frank’s home early this morning, just as Groppo friends and family were beginning to stream through the door, with everyone carrying armfuls of breakfast treats. The first order of business was starting several batches of homemade ricotta cooking on the stove. After filming the ricotta-making, I headed to the garage where the men were getting set up for making pasta. They had prepared the dough the night before and were spreading white cloths on the tables and setting out many hand pasta cranks.
All morning more and more friends arrived to lend a helping hand. There were perhaps 50-75 people there in the kitchen and in the garage, and all working at super high speed shaping, rolling, flouring, cranking, stacking, and cooking. Mid-morning and it was time to take a break. Nina and her crew fed the entire pasta-making team steaming bowls of the most amazingly delicious fresh ricotta. I had never had freshly made ricotta and after observing how it is made, I would love to give it a try.
One of the tables that Frank and his crew had set up in the garage was for drying the pasta. As batches of pasta were rolled, cut, and floured, they spread the pasta on the tables to dry. The first batches quickly filled the tabletop. The men then placed wooden blocks on the table and retuned from the shed with a new tabletop to stack on top of the first, covered that with a fresh white cloth, and spread the next batch of pasta. This happened eight times, to total a tower of pasta nine tiers high. Extraordinary!!!
After all pasta-making was done, amidst much dancing and merry-making, it was time to eat again! Frank and his crew cooked pasta in the garage, while Nina and her team prepared a large stockpot filled with sauce, which she had made from her homegrown harvest of tomatoes. Everyone crowded around the stove for beautiful aromatic bowls of pasta and red sauce, topped with freshly grated cheese.
Continue here for several more photos ~
From the first moment I sampled Maria and Nina’s Zeppole, I thought I had died and gone to food-lovers heaven! And I am not the only one in my family who felt the same. After spending the morning filming at Caffe Sicilia where Maria, Nina, and Domenic graciously demonstrated making the special Saint Joseph bread and Zeppole, they very sweetly sent me home with a treasure box full of freshly made Zeppole. My husband and son generally prefer savory to sweet, but now I see I will have to make frequent stops at Caffe Sicilia to pick up Zeppole during Saint Joseph’s feast time!
Maria’s Zeppole pastry is airy and tender and makes a perfect nest for one of three different fillings offered at Caffe Sicilia; a light and fluffy perfectly sweetened ricotta filling, the same ricotta filling, but with tiny chocolate chips added, and the third filling is yellow cream. Honestly, I have never been a tremendous yellow cream filling fan, but that is because I never had Maria’s yellow cream. Hers is neither gluey nor gloppy, but rather a pale buttery yellow sweet and smooth-textured filling of creamy yumminess. Not only were the fillings mouth watering delicious, she also sandwiches a very generous helping of beautiful Amarena cherries between the layers of pastry and filling. Amarena cherries are a favorite of my husband’s and I think that too may be another reason why he fell in love with Maria’s Zeppole.
RUN, don’t walk, to Caffe Sicilia to sample their Zeppole! Although a traditional Saint Joe desert, Maria makes the Zeppole through Easter time as many have given up sweets for Lent. Because the Zeppole fly out the door as quickly as they are made, having the opportunity to try the dessert is rather hit or miss. I strongly advise that you place your order for Zeppole ahead of time. The Zeppole are conveniently available in a large and a smaller size. Call (978) 283-2345 to place your orders.
End Note ~ Amarena cherries are made from a small, bitter dark colored cherry, the amara cherry, which is grown in the Modena and Bologna regions of Italy. Gennaro Fabbri from Bologna developed the Amarena combination of cherries with syrup and it is still a family-owned business that produces a variety of cherry based products, including syrups, beverages, and pastries. Amarena cherries are often used to decorate chocolate desserts.
I typically find Amarena cherries in the pretty blue and white Fabbri jars at William Sonoma, but after looking up the spelling for this post, they are also readily available online.
Preparing and baking the special San Guiseppe bread is a family endeavor at Caffe Sicilia. Within an hour’s time, Maria, Nina, and Domenic created dozens of loaves of bread in religiously significant shapes of St. Joseph’s staff, angels, and even a carpenter’s saw, as well as beautiful and whimsical flowers, sun, snails, and bunches of grapes. While they artfully and deftly shaped and baked, they shared their St. Joseph’s stories for our camera. Thank you Maria, Domenic, and Nina!
Today was a joyful day and I am immensely appreciative. Many, many thanks to Maria, Nina, and Domenic from the bottom of my heart for their kindness and help with Gloucester’s St. Joseph film project.
Below are just some of the posts honoring last year’s participants. If you have not been contacted, please, we do not want to leave anyone out. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like your family’s story included in Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph film project. Thank you.
You may recall that last year on Saint Joseph’s Day, as well as during the nine day novena leading up to the Feast, we began filming the community-wide project, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph. My original hope was to have completed the doucmentary and release it to the community on Saint Joseph’s Day 2014. There are, however, several very important elements missing, and they can only be filmed during the days leading up to Saint Joseph’s Day. In lieu of presenting the finished film on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19th, 2014, we will instead be releasing a short 5-minute film trailer. Stay tuned for more details!
My most heartfelt thanks goes to all the families who have so far contributed to make this a very special film. If you would like to participate in creating Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph ~ A Community Film Project, please contact the director, Kim Smith, at email@example.com. Much more is to come, with many wonderful surprises. Stay tuned for updates as filmmaking takes place during the Feast of San Giuseppe, 2014!
While editing over the past few months, I created Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph website to keep our community informed and updated about the film’s progress. Read more about Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph, the Director’s Statement, follow our blog, and see snapshots from last year’s filming here:
Lastly in my thanks for the Saint Joseph film project assistance goes to the beautiful Ciaramitaro-Mohan Family. Felicia and I have been working on this project together since its inception and I can only say that she is the most talented, sweetest, funnest (and funniest), smartest, and best organized friend and partner in a project that anyone could ever hope for.
Her home is always filled to the brim with family and friends, light, laughter, and love. To Felicia, Barry, Pat, Amanda, BJ, Joey, all Ciaramitaro cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and best friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your beautiful Saint Joseph novena and feast. I hope you will find as much joy in, as I have found in the making of, the Feast of Saint Joseph film. xo
Amanda and Felicia
Many, many thanks and our deepest appreciation to the Frank and Nina Groppo Family for agreeing to be interviewed and for allowing us to film their beautiful St. Joseph celebrations. While interviewing and during the feast, their wonderful home was overflowing with family and friends, joy and grace. Thank you Groppo Family and Friends!
Left to right front row: Eleonora D’Angelo, Angela Sanfilippo, Agata Groppo, Fina Briguglio, and Maria Sanfilippo.
and Nina “Crocetta” Groppo sitting on Agata’s lap.
Click portrait to view full size image.
Many, many thanks to the Carl and Marie Silva Family for sharing their story about the origins of their altar, family traditions and celebrations for the St. Joseph Film Project. As are all the altars, Marie’s is beautiful, and I especially love the added touch of the vine covered trellis.
Back row left to right ~ Lily, Linda, Carl, Marie, Jennifer, and Eric; front row Sylvia and Luke. Click image to view larger.
Niño, Oldest Son Pietro, and Maria Cannova with their beautiful altar.
After giving the interview for the St. Joseph film project, Niño gave Felicia the lovely poster of St. Joseph for her altar. He also gave both Felicia and I each a salted and seasoned salmon. Niño travels to Alaska to work on salmon fishing boats. He suggested serving the salmon with fresh lemon, and I did, and it was delicious!! Thank you Canovva Family for your beautiful gifts and warm hospitality.
Niño’s Gift of Salmon
Kathleen and John Scola share their beautiful family altar with the St. Joseph film project.
Kathleen showing an old newspaper clipping about St. Joseph bread and pasta, featuring her father, nicknamed Vito the Baker, because of his exceptional bakery and bread store, which was located in the building where Valentinos is located.
St. Joseph Trolley Party
Click photos to view larger.
A huge heartfelt thanks to All the Gloucester Families Helping with the San Giuseppe Film Project. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
A special thank you to Sefatia for organizing the trolley, and for being the best most spectacular hostess for the St. Joseph trolley. Traveling from home to home, she knows by heart, and explains in great detail, each of the family’s alar traditions and stories. She also manages to keep the trolley gang together (all 50 or so). Thanks to Sefatia, no one was left behind!
Thanks to Mayor Kirk for sharing in the St. Joseph trolley and festivities. Gloucester is so blessed to have the BEST Mayor ever!
Thanks to CATA and Ed Sallah for donating the trolley. Ed is an amazing driver and was so considerate towards each and every member of our exuberant party.
A special thanks to Felicia and her family and friends. Felicia is the first to say she could not have done it without her dear husband Barry, her mom Pat, son BJ, daughter Amanda, her beautiful aunts and gamatis, and all her friends and family, working alongside her, from sunrise until the well past the midnight hour.
Felicia and Her Best Gamatis ~ Le migliori amiche*
A very special thank you to Joey for inviting me to participate in his family’s St. Joseph festivities last year, which planted the seed for the St. Joseph film project.
Photos of each of the families interviewed coming this week.
* Thanks to Paul Frontiero for the correct spelling of best girlfriends.
So many thanks to the Orlando Family for again opening their home and hearts.
The singing and prayers are beautiful. We recorded an entirely different selection of songs (compared to the previous evening), followed by a delicious and lovely spread of homemade pastries and cakes, with much laughing and joke telling in the family’s kitchen.
To read the extensive GMG coverage and see Joey’s videos from last year’s Novenas, go to the GMG search box and type in Novena.