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Food and Family

Thank you to Adele Uddo for today’s guest post.  Adele is a hand model and writer with an amazing food & family history.  For more entertaining stories, check out her blog HAND JOBS: Tales of a hand model.

Food and Family

For generations, both sides of my family have been in the food and restaurant business.  In 1912 my great grandfather, Guiseppe Uddo, emigrated from Sicily, landed in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and started a small food-import trade, which eventually grew to become Progresso (see picture above).

My maternal grandparents, Joe and Josie Riccobono, at one time owned five restaurants in the Big Easy, including The Peppermill, which still serves up famous family recipes today.

And in the late 1970s my father owned The Riverbend, considered “The busiest restaurant in New Orleans,” according to Gambit newspaper.

Needless to say, the only vegetables my family eats are creamed. They’re Italian and from the great culinary center of the South – they live to eat and eat to celebrate life!

Except for summers and holidays, I spent my days growing up with my manic/organic mother on a California commune, where wheatgrass flushes and watermelon cleanses were the norm.

For most of my life, likely due to the culinary polarities of my youth, I’ve felt a bit torn and confused about food. I was all but force-fed by my relatives in New Orleans, while on the West Coast the motto was essentially: You name it – can’t eat it.

Thus, for me, food has always been carefully considered, or ravenously devoured, or even secretly consumed (especially during a rebellious stage of adolescence where I smuggled tasty “toxic” goodies into the commune from the ‘establishment’).

Ultimately my relationship to food has been as much a challenge as the question of what to eat, causing me to flip-flop throughout the years between high-protein, raw-foods, vegetarianism, veganism, pescetarianism, cheese-a-tarianism…you get the point.

However, recently I’ve recently stopped labeling myself, or obsessing about which diet is superior. I continue to prioritize “healthy” eating, but I’m more interested in finding balance and what feels right to my unique body, needs, and tastes. So far I’m having more fun with food, and I’ve freed up more time and energy for other things…which could be helpful if THIS Southern Italian girl is ever going to do her legacy proud and finally learn how to really cook!

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  • Chef Marco
    May 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Mama mia! Half of an Italian’s life is spent at the dinner table. And the most popular vegetarian item is pasta. Want protein? Add the meatball. Want dairy? Add the cheese. And everything has garlic and olive oil which is so healthy and flavorful. What’s the healthiest food in the world? Italian! The only problem is that it tastes so good, we eat too much! Buon Appetito!

  • TC
    May 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    OMG!!! This is so fabulous! Every time I visited you sweet people (in CA)I became dedicated to every new food trip your mother (my sister) introduced me to. And every time I returned home to the Peppermill I INSTANTLY started eating every thing in sight!!! Veal Panee gave immediate heartburn but who cared, it was the food our family ate!!!

  • Lynn
    May 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

    What a rich story!!!! I am fascinated by Adele’s life and am curious to hear more.

  • Sarah Taylor
    May 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    This is a great article! I loved it. It’s all about relationship, isn’t it? To ourselves, to each other…to food. Brava! I am hungry for more from Adele Uddo!

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