Seems like every day is a day to honor something or someone. Recently it was National Pickle Ball Day and National Handbag Day. If I knew how to play pickle ball, I would have and if I was shopping in stores I would have bought a new purse. On second thought, I may have to check out purses online, just in the spirit of celebrating.

But looking at the big picture, we celebrate something every month, sometimes more than one thing. This month, one of the reason to celebrate is National Italian Heritage Month — that would be me. I will think about the many people of Italian descent who have made contributions to this world of ours.

I am a first generation Italian-American with both of my parents coming over as children. My mother was from the Tuscany region and my father from Naples. In Chicago, my mother’s family settled around 24th Street and Oakley Avenue and my Father around 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue.

For Italians, celebrating usually means food and lots of it. My mother was a wonderful cook, and I should have paid more attention. Nobody could make a frittata like she did or stuff an artichoke to its fullness and goodness.

I’m always looking at Italian recipes, particularly those printed in Fra Noi, the Italian magazine. It is in English, which is a good thing, since I don’t speak or read Italian. However, I have discovered Lidia Bastianich’s Italian cooking on Channel 11, and closer to home there’s Riverside’s own “Cooking with Joe and Ann Marie” on Riverside TV’s Channel 6. If you have AT&T U-Verse it’s Channel 99. Love that show!

Riverside residents Joe and Ann Marie Quercia are the owners of Freddie’s Pizza in Cicero, and from their kitchen you can learn to prepare real Italian meals that are easy and delicioso.

While Joe is cooking, Ann Marie can be heard commenting in the background: “Don’t let the pasta burn!” He is good at flipping the pan to stir the food, and you’ll learn that “marriage” is when you add the pasta to the sauce. I learned to save and add the pasta water to finish the sauce. Check out the program, it is fun to watch. You can find out when the shows air on the Riverside TV website at

Since I am writing this on Columbus Day and I always make something Italian, maybe I will make ravioli lasagna, which is easier than it sounds.

Ciao and mangia. And there you have some of the few Italian words I know that are suitable for this column.