Our family makes a habit of getting together in between the major holidays. While we gather and feast on Thanksgiving, at Easter, and Christmas, the months in between require their own kind of celebration. We convene for cold cuts and pizza served on paper plates. No preparation is required; we just show up and break bread. My late grandfather used to sit at the head of the table, and my grandmother would make him a plate. My grandmother replaced him at the head of the table and my father would make her a plate. Although they have both gone home, together, they're never really that far. We still eat our cold cuts and think of them fondly.
My grandparents used to store their vehicles in the garage, as a garage is intended. They took extra special care of all their possessions, likely a product of their humble beginnings. When James and I moved in, we opted to park the cars in the driveway and use the garage for gatherings. A dart board, mismatching chairs, antique bar, hotdog and popcorn machines are the only provisions. With the arrival of spring, the garage is opened and James has been cooking more than usual; his favorite method of preparation is barbecue. We took our dear cold cut night outside and served up an assortment of salads, grilled meats, and vegetables.
I woke to the smell of smoke as James began his pork ribs and beef brisket at 7am. He had already been to the grocery store to pick up more ingredients by the time I wandered in to the kitchen for a coffee. We cleaned and prepared all day in anticipation for the grand reveal of Nonny and Homer's garage. First we had antipasti: olives, prosciutto, capicola, artichokes, and provolone. Every half hour thereafter, we had another course. James has an issue with moderation when it comes to mealtime. Grilled chicken with garlic and oil as well as London broil drizzled with melted butter were served on Italian bread, beefsteak style. Few folks outside of New Jersey have such a thing, but we relish in the wonder of grilled meat atop crusty bread.
He made mussels two ways, first with a traditional marinara and second in white wine, lemon and garlic. Once the slurping subsided and all that remained were shells, we had grilled corn, pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. I can not help but hope Nonny and Homer are smiling affectionately on their little garage filled with family, laughing together and overcome by nostalgia. As the sun went down we had fruit crumbles, apple, pear and blueberry, with ice cream. And cannoli. There were so many leftovers, we got together the day following and did it all over again.