Those industrious Siciliani!

Anthony T. Rossi, born in Messina, Sicily, in 1900, immigrated to the United States in 1921. Sailing from Naples, Italy, he landed in New York City with $30 in his pocket. He and four other friends came to the big city to make enough money to finance an adventure in Africa, where they planned to make a film. But Rossi found that he liked the United States and its moneymaking opportunities too much to leave, and the African expedition was quickly forgotten. After working in a machine shop, and as a cabdriver and chauffeur, in the late 1920s he purchased the first self-service grocery store in the country, the Aurora Farms market on Long Island, which he ran for 13 years.

In the early 1940s, longing to live in a climate similar to his native Sicily, Rossi—after first relocating in Virginia where he was a farmer—moved to Florida, settling in Bradenton, a small gulf coast town in Manatee County south of Tampa. He grew tomatoes on a 50-acre rented farm there, and also bought a cafeteria in downtown Bradenton, where his freshly prepared food proved popular. Dreaming of owning a chain of restaurants, he bought the Terrace restaurant in Miami Beach in 1944. Wartime gasoline rationing, however, crippled the Florida tourism industry, leading Rossi to exit the restaurant business.

The same week he sold his restaurant, Rossi embarked on a new venture, that of selling gift boxes of Florida citrus fruit to such department stores as Macy’s and Gimbel’s in New York City. Finding surprising success in this business, he moved in 1947 to Palmetto, a town just north of Bradenton, where he purchased the Overstreet Packing Company, renaming it the Manatee River Packing Company. Rossi was now able to buy his citrus directly from nearby growers rather than from retail supermarkets in Miami, cutting his costs and improving his product’s freshness.

Rossi’s gift boxes grew even more popular, and were soon being distributed across the country. He next expanded into selling jars of chilled fruit sections. But since only the largest fruit was selected for the boxes and the sections, Rossi needed to find a way to use the smaller fruit that was going to waste. He decided to squeeze the smaller oranges into juice, and ship it to the Northeast along with jars of fresh fruit sections, using specially modified refrigerated trucks.

In 1949 the company moved to Bradenton and changed its name to Fruit Industries, Inc. That same year Rossi also entered the burgeoning market for frozen orange juice concentrate, purchasing an evaporator to extract the water from the juice. In addition, he registered “Tropicana” as a trademark and began using it on his fruit section and juice products, which proved so successful that he abandoned the marketing of the fruit gift boxes.

Personified brands, such as Speedy Alka Seltzer, were popular in the early television days of the 1950s, and Rossi joined the trend in 1951 when he commissioned the creation of “Tropic-Ana,” a grass skirt- and lei-wearing, pigtailed girl balancing a large bowl of oranges on her head. The character provided an instantly recognizable symbol for the still-young company and helped establish it in the consumer market as Tropicana products began appearing in supermarket cases, mainly in the Northeast and Southeast. In 1953 the company moved to larger quarters, the former Florida Grapefruit Canning Plant in Bradenton, which served as the firm’s headquarters until its relocation to Chicago in 2004.


Parmigiana di Melanzane

Parmigiana di melanzane

Ricetta della nonna (di Rosa)

 

Ingredienti per il sugo
Passata di pomodoro, 1kg (35oz)
Olio extravergine d’oliva q.b.
Sale fino q.b.
Cipolla

Ingredienti per impanare e friggere le melanzane

2 Melanzane ovali nere
4 uova
Farina q.b.
Olio extravergine d’oliva q.b.
Latte q.b

Ingredienti per condire la parmigiana
Prosciutto 250g (9oz)
Mozzarella 250g (9oz)
Parmigiano 150 g (5oz)

 Preparazione iniziale delle melanzane:
Prendete e lavate le melanzane. Asciugatele e con un coltello eliminate il picciolo.
E’ necessario affettare le melanzane in modo da ottenere delle fette spesse 4-5 mm. Potete utilizzare un coltello o una mandolina (attrezzo taglia verdure).
Mettete le fette all’interno di uno scolapasta e cospargete con un po’ di sale.
Sulla sommità delle melanzane mettete un piatto e lasciate così per almeno 1 ora.

Preparazione del sugo:
In una larga casseruola versate un filo d’olio extravergine d’oliva e la cipolla.
Versate la passata di pomodoro e aggiungete un po’ d’acqua e un po’ di sale e lasciate cuocere a fuoco lento per 50,55 minuti.
Mescolate spesso per non far bruciare il sugo e poi lasciate rosolare per un paio di minuti.

Frittura di melanzane:
In una padella versate abbondante olio. Sarà necessario per friggere le melanzane.
Nel frattempo, versate un po’ di farina in un piatto e rompete le uova in una ciotola.
Aggiungete un po’ di latte per allungare il composto dell’uovo, altrimenti troppo denso.
Prendete le melanzane e procedete con l’impanatura. Prima nella farina, poi nell’uovo e successivamente nella padella con l’olio. Nell’olio bollente a 170° (340F) immergete poche fette alla volta, e dopo un paio di minuti di cottura posizionate le fette fritte su un foglio di carta assorbente; procedete così con tutte le altre.

 

Composizione finale:
Grattugiate la mozzarella (o scamorza) e tagliate a piccoli pezzettini il prosciutto. Mettete un po’ di sugo sulla base della pirofila che utilizzerete per cucinare la vostra parmigiana, poi formate il primo strato disponendo le fette di melanzane in orizzontale. A questo punto mettete un po’ di prosciutto, un po’ di mozzarella e un po’ di parmigiano. Versate ancora un po’ di sugo per colorire l’interno. Ripetete lo stesso procedimento posizionando un altro strato di melanzane e un altro con tutti gli altri  ingredienti (sugo, prosciutto, mozzarella, parmigiano). Quando avete finito tutte le melanzane, sull’ultimo strato versate la restante passata di pomodoro ed il parmigiano.

Cottura:
Infornate la vostra parmigiana di melanzane in forno caldo a 200° (390F) per circa 50 minuti.
Una volta pronta lasciatela assestare qualche minuto prima di servirla.

 


Lunga vita alla Resistenza!

 

25 April is the Festa della Liberazione, the celebration in Italy that commemorates the country’s liberation from the yoke of Nazi occupation.  Stories of seven noted resistance fighters is found at La Resistenza!

Fischia il vento is an Italian popular song whose text was written in September 1943, at the inception of the resistenza. The lyricist was Felice Cascione and the intention was to spur on the partisan movement. The music is that of the Russian popular song Katyusha. Along with Bella ciao it is one of the most famous songs celebrating the resistance. Below are the lyrics in Italian and English, and the video is here: Fischia il vento.

 

Fischia il vento

Fischia il vento ed infuria la bufera
Scarpe rotte e pur bisogna andar
A conquistare la rossa primavera
Dove sorge il sol dell’avvenir

… A conquistare la rossa primavera
Dove sorge il sol dell’avvenir

Ogni contrada? Patria del ribelle
Ogni donna a lui dona un sospir
Nella notte lo guidano le stelle
Forte il cuor e il braccio nel colpir

… Nella notte lo guidano le stelle
Forte il cuor e il braccio nel colpir

E se ci coglie la crudele morte
Dura vendetta fara dal partigian
Ormai sicura? Gi? La dura sorte
Del fascista vile traditor

… Ormai sicura? Gi? La dura sorte
Del fascista vile traditor

Cessa il vento, calma? La bufera
Torna a casa il fiero partigian
Sventolando la rossa sua bandiera
Vittoriosi, e alfin liberi siam!

… Sventolando la rossa sua bandiera
Vittoriosi, e alfin liberi siam!
Fischia il vento ed infuria la bufera
Scarpe rotte e pur bisogna andar
A conquistare la rossa primavera
Dove sorge il sol dell’avvenir

… A conquistare la rossa primavera
Dove sorge il sol dell’avvenir

The wind whistles

The wind whistles, the storm screams
Broken shoes and yet we have to go
To conquer the red spring
Where the sun of tomorrow rises.

To conquer the red spring
Where the sun of tomorrow rises.

Every street is homeland to the rebel,
Every woman gives him a whisper,
At night stars guide him,
Strong his heart and his arm when it hits.

At night stars guide him,
Strong his heart and his arm when it hits.

If the cruel death catches us
Harsh revenge will come from the partisan,
Already sure is the harsh fate
Of the vile and treacherous fascist.

Already sure is the harsh fate
Of the vile and treacherous fascist.

The wind stops and the storm quiets,
The proud partisan comes back home,
Waving his red flag
Victorious, finally we are free.

Waving his red flag
Victorious, finally we are free.