Yes, cannoli

They used to joke there are only two types of people who live in Pittston: Italians, and those who wish they were Italians.
We’re talking ethnic descent here. Pittstonians are Americans. But we do treasure our roots. And celebrate the roots of our neighbors.
When it comes to Italian culture, I, a descendant of German and Irish ancestors, fall into the latter category. And that’s okay.
Better than okay, actually. It’s wonderful.
I grew up surrounded by rich Italian traditions. When I tell people we lived on East Oak Street in Browntown when I was a child, eyebrows are raised. You didn’t find Ackermans in that neck of the woods. We rented from the Timontes, had our afternoon newspaper delivered by a Montagna, shopped at Capitanos, got our haircut at Infantinos, and played with the Albas, Cefalos, Bartolis, Saporitos and Rizzos.
Best of all, we ate their food.
And my dad drank their homemade wine.
We get to celebrate many of those Italian memories this weekend with the St. Joseph Marello Parish annual picnic tonight and tomorrow night (May 27 and 28) and the book signing party of Joe Schillaci’s memoir “Tompkins Street” Saturday afternoon.
Tompkins Street, the book and especially the place, was the subject of my column in last weekend’s Greater Pittston Progress. I look forward to a large turnout of former residents of that magical place at the Gramercy Restaurant from 2 to 4 p.m. The conversations should be rich and my high school friends Joe Leone and Tony Alu, natives of Tompkins Street who now perform as the duo “Tompkins Street,” will be playing their music. It’s an “open house” with everyone welcome.
But this holiday weekend begins tonight with the St. Joseph Marello picnic. The first thing I eat there each year is a pepper, egg and cheese sandwich … sort of an Italian Egg McMuffin. And I may treat myself to a bowl of pasta “fazool”. Mary Kay is sure to order the tripe.
What we are really looking forward to, however, is a new item this year. Last Sunday after Mass our old friend Roseanne Ricotta told us she and her sisters were making their homemade cannoli.
I knew what my wife was going to ask as soon as she heard the news: cream filled or ricotta?
“Oh, cream,” Roseanne was happy to announce. And that was the right answer. That’s the kind of cannoli my wife grew up with.
Cannoli are rich. Too rich to eat more than one. I plan to eat more than one.

Ed Ackerman