Quattro Fratelli – Ben Kronman

quattro fratelli

Ben Kronman


This morning

I was thinking

how much of our


revolves around food

four brothers

and a feast before us


for you

I will agree to disagree

We fight with our words

All wanting to go

Elsewhere for Dinner

I say no, me first

You picked last time

And before the other two


In our car ride home

I suggested

we get noodles

From my favorite place

It tastes much better

When we all agree


Tonight we ordered


For the very first time

And the youngest

Burns his mouth

On the boiling soup inside


The elegant silk

Wraps around a fiery cauldron

Of flavor and delight

I motion jokingly

That we have eaten them all

Before unveiling another basket

Full of clouds


I pretend not to notice

The younger two

Fumbling with their

Chopsticks over noodles

There are no forks here


We try not to speak and listen

To the waiters interrupting to ask

If we would like anything else


Of course we do


We are four brothers eating

We are insatiable


You steal a dumpling

From the eldest brother’s plate


A dragon’s fire bursts

Through the table


We laugh and celebrate

The night away from home

But never forget

To bring back some for father


This is why I love you all




I chose to imitate “Le Due Sedie” in the Saporoso Poems by Jennifer Barone. I chose this piece because it truly expresses the love that can be shared over a meal, or more over a table. I chose a table of brothers, my brothers, for together we make the “Quattro Fratelli” or four brothers. From imitating this piece, I learned that the author also finds love over meals, but with her significant other. I learned that not only her culture, but the culture of her lover, seemingly Vietnamese, also has a strong connection between food and love. I learned about my culture while writing that nothing is quite as important or special as spending time with those you love most, and those that make you happiest. In my case it is my siblings. There is cultural DNA in both poems, that being the love shared around food. My family’s experience is similar to what we have learned about in class. My family is Italian-American, and often the time we spend all together is over food. In the instance captured in this poem we experienced the Chinese practice of shared dining as author Liu Junru in Food and Drink Traditions described it. The table was elegantly filled with large bowls of noodle soups and the best of all the Xiaolongbao, which are also called soup dumplings and have a soft flour noodle shell with broth and often a meat/filling on the inside. Sharing from family sized dishes create a connection between the sharers and leaves one with a loving feel.

The Multi-generational Table

This family has always been a sporting family. It really started with the grandfather. He was on the tall side – 6 foot 7. He was a star basketball player in high school, but his heart was always on the golf course. Going into his house one would see a large array of trophies and prizes from various tournaments. The most precious prize, little did he know it at the time, was a dining room table he won for his wife. Well to be entirely correct, he got coupons to a furniture store annually for winning their golf tournament. He won it so many times that every piece of furniture from his home was from golfing. This table was a huge Tuscan style wood table with 10 chairs, but many more could squeeze in. I am a distant observer in this story, for this table was before my time. I write as an outsider, for I have no memory of the table itself. It was my mother’s childhood table, and mine as well, when I was much younger. Using the informal interview anthropological method, I am conducting this study in order to have a deeper understanding of my family’s background, and to have a better recollection of my childhood. My intention is to use an informal interview because the best information I can observe is through my mother’s recollection and storytelling. Gillian Crowther in Eating Culture An Anthropological Guide to Food states “The everyday reality of life is most strongly felt and experienced by individuals” and because of this I knew my mother is the best person to talk to about her family table because she has seen it from multiple perspectives, both as mother and child, and because she has experienced the table in every stage of its life. My mother was happy to discuss this with me, and I only had to ask one question to really get the stories rolling.

The table started its family life off in my grandmother’s (my mother’s mother) home. There it was so large it filled the entire front room, a happy and welcoming place to all that entered the house. Outside of meals, this table held many different purposes. On this table my mother had all her childhood holidays and momentous occasions. She did her college applications there. The most fun she said her, and her sister ever had was doing each other’s wedding invitations on that same table. Her grandmother passed the recipe of my family’s pasta sauce down to her mother there. The table then moved onto my family in Pittsburgh, where my older brother and I would always eat and my mother became the chef, and the cuisine shifted to a heartier Irish cuisine, her specialties being shepherd’s pie and soda bread. Today the table sits in the center of my cousin’s home, where Polish feasts cover the table. The table, no matter where it is, has always been the centerpiece and meeting space of one big happy family.

Before meals, this table was a meeting place, where children would come into the room, slam down their book bags, and get an afternoon snack. A happy mother would look on, planning the night’s meal. After clearing the table, the children would help to set up for dinner. The cook, often my grandmother/mother, would then set down the food, always family style, and the meal would begin. A family tradition was set at this table. It is called “best and worst” where everyone would have to share the best and worst things that happened during the day. With this simple game, the table built daily connections between siblings and parents. Many stories and cheering up took place at the table. After the meals is when the table really came to life. On one side of the table, there was always a dedicated study area, where one could do homework and prepare for the next day, the other housed the “card sharks.” My mother recalls there seemingly always being a game of cards taking place with my grandmother and other relatives after big meals, and the table was the center of it.

In conclusion, this kitchen table’s greatest quality is what is consistent across my family’s different cultures. The ability to be a central, welcoming comfort zone for generations has been what makes this table so significant. The table is large enough to fit everyone with all the homemade food one could eat. As these stories in the interview unfolded, I feel a warmth and connection to my family’s history, though I do not remember the table itself. I remember emotions mixed with smells and flavors of family’s specialty foods, and I am grateful for the center of our lives that was this table.

My favorite food – Journal #1

Ben Kronman

July 5, 2019

Journal 1

To pick a favorite food is nearly impossible for me. The array of foods I enjoy expands far beyond the chicken tenders I called favorite in 3rd grade. The pizza of 5th grade was a big jump, for I enjoyed it with mushrooms on top. Middle school brought on the semi-unusual choice of Caesar salad, but mostly for the parmesan cheese commonly grated on top. In high school I began to come into my own and enjoyed cooking seafood with my mother, the salmon was always a winner. Today I look back on all of those items and try to choose what stands out above the others and I cannot decide. These are all of my favorites, but they were all a different version of me, from a different time. My all-time favorite has to connect each version of me. It came down to only one: my grandmother’s pasta with meat sauce. I think every Italian-American family can agree that their family recipe for pasta sauce is the best. I think it is fair to say that none of those families are wrong. That is because deep rooted family recipes are the best, and not necessarily because of what they taste like. My grandmother’s sauce is the best because it brings my family together. My family is really big and often we do not get to spend a lot of time as one. She makes it for the most special occasions: holidays, birthdays, snow days (Pittsburgh, PA, it gets really cold), and family gatherings. Walking into her house while the sauce is cooking down is walking through the gates of heaven. Pasta with the meat sauce is also my favorite because of the delicate balance between the sweetness in the carrots and tomatoes and the savory aspects of the meat and wine. Also, I tend to eat a lot, so the heftiness of a big plate of pasta with meat sauce is always a welcome meal. A big dish is the ultimate comfort food for me because it feels, smells, and tastes like home. The process of cooking the sauce is beautiful in of itself. The slow cooking of the sauce while adding the ingredients one by one fuses the flavors together and creates a perfect harmony. My grandmother has found perfection in her dish and I aspire to follow in her path.

The closest comparison to my grandmother’s sauce is a traditional Bolognese.  Bolognese is a meat-based tomato sauce that is slowly cooked to perfection. The first mention of a meat-based sauce served with pasta is from a cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi in 1891 called “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di magiare bane” or The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating well. Artusi spent most of his time in Italy in the Northern city of Bologna and credits the heartiness of the food to the climate and geography of the region. The climate of Northern Italy is more rugged than the South, and Pellegrino as a result made the connection between the ruggedness of the region to the heartiness and ruggedness in the food. This is perfectly reflected in Bolognese because it is a heavy and meaty dish that warms the body and soul. This comes into play in my grandmother’s sauce because the Italian part of my family comes from Northern Italy. To say the dish warms the soul is true because it creates an air of happiness and leaves one stuffed. Traditionally, Bolognese is served with a flat pasta such as the egg and flour-based tagliatelle, and my grandmother follows in this fashion with rigatoni. The perfect finish to the pasta is shredded parmesan on top.

Below is a picture of my grandmother, siblings, cousins and I (the sauce’s biggest fans). Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of us making the sauce. Also included is an image of a generic Bolognese.


Ingredients for a Traditional Bolognese Sauce:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds 80/20 ground beef
  • ½ pounds ground pork
  • 6 ounces pancetta, chopped finely
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 11 ounces large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces (1 large) carrot, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 cup white wine, or red if you prefer
  • 3 1/2 cups good quality can tomato puree, 28 ounces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup beef stock


It is important to remember that the method of cooking is significant and can vary. A traditional Bolognese is cooked slowly at a low temperature.