Sharing Success

Flavor and Memory

Since everyone is busy around the holidays, I thought I would keep things light by talking about the connection between good food and good feelings!

Of our five senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste), smell and taste are hardwired directly into our memories. That is why intensely familiar aromas can instantly make us feel good by vividly recreating pleasant memories. I was recently reminded of this by Frank Chiodo, of Chiodo’s Ferro Cucina, in Warren, PA, who sent us an extraordinary gift … a cast iron pan belonging to his grandparents and this letter of explanation. We hope that you find it as moving as we have. – Tom


Flavor and Memory

In 1913, Luigi and Catharine (Kat a reen a) Chiodo (Key o doe) were wed in Hickory, on the Queen Creek, in Pennsylvania. Luigi was 26 years old and Catharine was 16. This black iron pan was one of their gifts. They had eight children, four and four, and were married almost 70 years. In those days, Papa built narrow railroads to move raw lumber from the forest to the main line. Nana cared for the home. When the trees were all gone, they tore up the track, tore down the lumber camp, and moved to another part of the forest, all for $1.00 an hour. Papa was a foreman.

When I was young, Nana would not cook with that iron pan over electric heat. She kept a gas stove in the basement. That pan fried pork chops for Papa at 5 AM. The whole house would fill with the aroma … what a way to wake up!

On Christmas Eve, the aromas of frying in deep oil rose up through the furnace ducts to fill every room with the smells of holiday meatballs, frying on one side and then the other before they went into the sauce. Also, crisp dough with sugar every Christmas was a favorite.

Every Easter morning, fried mortadella, onions, eggs and cheese for breakfast before Mass were to die for!

In summer, Papa grew peppers hot and sweet and Nana packed them. Every home should smell of fried peppers one week a year!

I also remember sausage, peppers, and potatoes being cooked over an open fire along the Queen Creek when we would go on a picnic. Catching trout and frying them in that old pan was also amazing.

I remember that pan preparing fried eggplant, Parma ham and fried tomatoes over penne. Leftover spaghetti pie, baked in the oven, then brought to the table in Nana’s old pan. Roasted garlic by the bulb or clove on canning day was like Italian “Chanel Nº 5.” We all loved it!

Except for my father, Frank, 78, the baby of their family, the Chiodos are all gone now: Luigi and Catharine, and their children Clara, John, Sylvio, Elane, Vickie, Anna, and Dan. May they rest in peace.

So with this pan I give you history. I give you tradition. I give you the legacy of a piece of iron which is worthless as scrap but priceless in the family stories it could tell, the hardships it has seen, the love it has passed across an old wooden table. It has provided thousands of pounds of food to fill hundreds of souls. Whenever you cook with it, their memory lives on! Cook well!