138 Litchfield Street
I’ve been going through some old photos recently and have decided to occasionally write a bit about my grandparents and their home at 138 Litchfield Street in Torrington, Connecticut. On this land, very near the exact center of town, they operated a tailor shop which was attached to the house and ran a boarding home for men with the six bedrooms on the upper floors of the building. My grandparents lived on the first floor with my father and his younger brother. I myself lived there for awhile after my grandfather’s death in 1990 when the tailor shop was converted to an apartment. Conveying the memories I have of this magical place, so much of it culinary in nature, is something I have wanted to do for a number of years. So, here we go . . .
This is a picture of my father and grandmother circa 1957. As many of you know, my grandmother, Noni, passed away July 14, aged 97 years. My father died in October of 2011, at 71. Noni was a very straight-laced, religious, Italian woman. My father, by all accounts, was an anxious teenager who liked pool halls and excelled at the activities taking place therein. He was also fond of and quite proficient with cards, cars and sports gambling. He claimed that the very first record he ever bought was Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel. He was often at odds with his parents, and, yes, he liked to cook. They are standing in a part of their yard that would eventually become a modest, yet extremely productive vegetable garden. In it, my grandparents grew beans, zucchini, tomatoes, melons, peppers, and a variety of bitter greens. These crops were the mainstays as long as I can remember. There was also a raspberry patch, a large cherry tree, and a mullberry tree. Numerous flower gardens were also squeezed in. On one side of the house stands the Knights of Columbus, on the other is the Beth El Synagogue. The Meneguzzos bought this house after the flood of 1955 destroyed their previous home a very short distance away. It remains in the family as a boarding house and two apartments.
One of my favorite things that Noni made from the garden, and a highlight of every summer, was squash flower fritters. She’d pick them, dip them in a light batter, fry in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. To me these were and are ethereal. I have never cooked them. I have never eaten them anywhere else. I can’t. They belong to her.
A recipe and excellent account of Squash Flower Fritters: The Parsley Thief.
Today’s Tip War . . .