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Saturday afternoon, Chip and I drove to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to meet my cousin Angela and her husband, Adrian (Herbie) for lunch. I have not seen my cousin in over 20 years, yet we have experienced each other’s lives, pictures, and families via Facebook. We were long overdue to get together.

Looking for food comfort in our Italian roots, we selected the San Gennaro Restaurant. Chef Gennaro is a warm and engaging master of Italian food with a Naples flair. Angela and I saw his video of the fettuccine alla ruota in a creamy truffle sauce. Chef engaged with us on Facebook and I called him for a reservation. We had to have that dish and it did not disappoint.

If you have never been to Arthur Avenue, you simply must go. Walk the distance of the Little Italy city blocks and smell the warm bread, the sweet desserts baking, and the open-air fish markets shucking oysters and hawking the catch of the day. The Calabria Pork Store assaults your senses in a sublime way from strong cheeses to meats and olives. My heart melted when I saw a small Italian woman who could have been Grandma Rose’s twin. I just wanted to go up to her and ask her for a hug.

We brought our purchased goodies to the cooler in the car (don’t you bring a cooler when you shop?) and set off for the restaurant. Once inside we were welcomed by Chef and took a seat in the heated porch. Soon after Angela and Adrian arrived, the food festivities began. The four us hugged, talked, ate, and drank for almost 4 hours. My heart and soul were warmed by the people and events of that afternoon.

We shared some old black and white pictures of our grandparents and family. Then passed around our phones to display the fun and craziness of our children and their escapades. We spoke of life, death, and illness. Over those glasses of wine, cappuccinos  and Limoncello, we reconnected, and I hated to leave her. Life is so unbelievably fragile, and we all wait way to long to realize it. Angela and I share a common illness that has been kept at bay for me for over a decade and one day it will for her too. I know it.

We laughed until our sides hurt and after passing around four spectacular desserts, and taste testing 6 variations of Limoncello, we were ready to go. We walked them to the Calabria Pork Store and took in one last breath of that pure Italian scent as they struggled to decide what to purchase. One last hug, a quick selfie and it was over….until we meet again.

Thank you, Angela for a wonderful afternoon, and Adrian, a belated welcome to our family. (and it was sooo worth the $35 parking ticket!)

Baci e abbracci. Ciao and Cheerio!

Sidebar note: Ok, truth be told, I am the only 100% Italian. Angela and Chip are a mix of Irish and other ‘non-Italian’ blood. Adrian is a Brit. LOVE THAT ACCENT. It was better than the British guy’s voice on my Waze App.

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