Thanksgiving with an Italian Twist

My immigrant grandparents embraced Thanksgiving. In their second-floor Providence tenement, the feast included lasagna and hot dumpling soup along with turkey and stuffing.

It was the same as every Sunday dinner except there was turkey instead of chicken, and they added cranberry sauce …

Last year, I had this piece (link below) in The Providence Journal. It got so much response, that I thought I would re-blog it and make it an annual contribution. I hope you enjoy it.

For my immigrant grandparents, Thanksgiving had an Italian twist


© 2018

By | 2018-11-20T16:37:45+00:00 November 22nd, 2018|Food, Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|23 Comments


  1. Michele McGurrin November 22, 2018 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Thanks Ed!! Love your story ♥️

    • Ed November 22, 2018 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Enjoy your day. Michele

  2. Peter Voccio JR. November 22, 2018 at 4:58 pm - Reply


    It’s much more than the table setting with all the variety of dishes of delicious food with the special day Thanksgiving and the turkey. A story of love, respect and pride. Happy Thanksgiving to you Diane and family.

    • Ed November 22, 2018 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      So true. I trust you had a great day. Peter.

  3. Peter Vocccio JR. November 23, 2018 at 2:31 am - Reply

    Very much so!

  4. Natalie L McKenna November 23, 2018 at 5:09 am - Reply

    I will never tire reading this story each year. Thanks again for the memories! Hope your Thanksgiving Lives on!

  5. Natalie L McKenna November 23, 2018 at 5:12 am - Reply

    I will never get tired of reading this story, Ed. Thanks again for the memories. Hope you and Diane ha a blessed and happyThanksgiving Day!

    • Ed November 23, 2018 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      And may yours live on also, my friend

  6. Maryann Coletti November 24, 2018 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Dr. Iannuccilli,
    I remember you from R.I Hospital…..I worked there from 1968-1979 on medical/ surg. Floor, 10B and 10A and my good friend Cathy Healey worked with you in the outpatient dept.
    I love your stories…I have whatever happened to Sunday dinners !

    • Ed November 24, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      So nice of you to get in touch, Maryann. Thank you for your kind comments. Yes, the writing has been fun and has reconnected me with longtime friends such as you. I have a third book, My Story Continues: from Neighborhood to Junior High School. Also, on Monday, I start my new job as a columnist with GoLocalProv. I hope you subscribe. here is the link

  7. Geraldine DiMasi November 26, 2018 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I also had wonderful Italian immigrant grandparents. After reading your story, I wish I had known yours, too. The only item unfamiliar to me in your story was the dumplings in the soup. They must have been from a different part of Italy. If you know anything about the ingredients, I’d like to know what they were.

    Congratulations on your new job!

    Happy holidays.


  8. Joseph Bustin November 26, 2018 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Dear Dr. Ed: I hope you and your had a great Thanksgiving and I really enjoyed your Thanksgiving story. You Italians certainly know how to eat. I became real good friends with an Italian couple in Cranston who invited my wife and I for an Italian feast at their home. Could not believe what the expected us to eat. When I asked how we would digest all this, the declared you drink Vino! Iwillcintinue to follow you as you write for GoLocalProv. Best of luck and have a very joyous holiday season! Joe Bustin

    • Ed November 26, 2018 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      So nice to hear from you, Joe. And of your Italian connection of course. Yes, I am excited by my new venture. A young enthusiastic group at GoLocal has energized me. Thanks for subscribing.
      Merry Christmas to you and Family.
      Dr. Ed

  9. Gino November 26, 2018 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    My grandmother, direct from Abruzzo, refused to have turkey for Thanksgiving, she only made capon.

    • Ed November 26, 2018 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      Funny, Gino. My grandparents were also from Abruzzo, maybe from the more flexible area. They were from Pollutri in Chieti.
      They did not do Christmas goose, however. They did the capon.
      Merry Christmas.

  10. Anthony (Tony) J. Agostinelli November 27, 2018 at 10:10 am - Reply

    We also had twists…sometimes my Dad had sway — stuffed veal roast instead of turkey. The sides often included: baked Italian sausage and mushrooms; melanzana (egg plant) alla Pecorino Romano; and, lasagna (if my mom had enough time, what with other preparations.

    Every major holiday (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day), my parents would put out a morning until noon, of Italian cookies, cordials, and Narragansett Beer in the refrigerator, fokr those who did not want the anisette, cherry brandy, and grappa. Coffee was always kept hot, milk or soda pop for the younger ones. All of my cousins and their children, and my mother’s youngest brother and his family (minus his wife who was at home cooking) visited. They did not arrive before 9:00 and after 12 noon.

    At Christmas time, just before the 25th, my aunts and the older “girl” cousins, would set up an assembly line in our basement kitchen to make “Quandies” (wandies)…those light fragile dough delicacies quickly deep fried in Mazola corn oil removed and placed on white kitchen towels (later paper towels) to drain off what oil remained. They were sprinkled with powdered sugar and placed in large wooden laundry baskets, in a bedding of either white toweling or paper towels. Each of my Mom’s sisters’ families would bring their own baskets, and were filled to overflowing for use by each family.

    For days our home was filled with the smell of not only at first by the making of the quandies, but also by the cooking of holiday feast in the downstairs kitchen sotve.

    • Ed November 27, 2018 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      Wonderful recollections beautifully described … as usual, Tony. Thank you. Buon Natale.

  11. Anne Marie Pinelli November 30, 2018 at 2:11 am - Reply

    I love your autographed book I bought ” Growing up Italian ” when I saw you one night at the Johnston Senior Center. I am Maria’s Mom . Diane’ s daughter -in-law.

    • Ed November 30, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your nice comments, Anne Marie. Thanks for coming to the event in Johnston. Yes, I know your Family well.
      I’m not sure you know that I now have a weekly column, published every Monday on GoLocalProv. I would love it if you, friends and Family subscribed. Here is the link:
      Merry Christmas!

  12. Jim Pettit December 10, 2018 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Dear Ed,
    DJ,s together in 1962, played four wall handball on the squash court in the nurses quarters, played softball together against Albany Law School,classmates in medical school,
    and most importantly, we love Italian cuisine. We should be brothers!
    You’re still the gentleman you were in 1961.
    Love you both
    Actually, Diane more than you!
    Jim Pettit
    Keep writing.

    • Ed December 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      After a long meeting, Jim, my committee has agreed that I accept you as a friend. The vote was 8 to 7.
      Yes, brothers indeed. Lucky to go to Albany and connect with so many good friends.
      Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year to You, Rita and Family.

  13. Jim Petticelli December 10, 2018 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    Merry Christmas to you and yours

    Jim and Rita

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