Meet Nonna Carmela D'Angelo
About Nonna Carmela
My name is Carmela D’Angelo and I was born in Middle Village, New York, a small village in Queens.
My farther, Anthony Adamo, was born in Palo del Colle, Bari (Puglia) and came to America when he was a little boy.
I lived in the same house as my father’s mother and my father’s brother and his family. This is the same house where I raised all my children. My grandmother was always making fresh pasta and my grandfather was the wine maker. Upon entering the house, we always greeted our grandparents first. This was respect.
My mother’s mother lived in Brooklyn and I visited her often. She owned a country home on Long Island, where my two brothers and I spent the entire summer. Great memories. I once carried a small tree on a trolley cart to give her. She planted it at her Long Island home and called it “Carmela’s Tree. I think it is still there!
I have three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. So I am not only a Nonna but also a BisNonna!
I was a stay-at-home mom until my children were older, then I went to work in a German bakery. That is where I learned to decorate butter cookies. So now it is a tradition for me to make them for all the holidays.
I was then offered a secretarial job with the New York City Board of Education and so I left the bakery. After that, my husband and I decided to move to our country home in the Catskills. He wanted to pursue things we thought about and have more space to do them. I finally had time to write a cookbook for my children, so my family recipes would not be lost.
My husband built me a large Victory Garden and a pizza oven. In my garden I was able to grow garlic, asparagus, artichokes, pumpkins and more. It doesn’t get fresher than that!
Then we opened an antique shop and I’m still selling, but now I only sell on the internet. The shop is now my husband’s studio for his paintings and sculptures.
In 2011 I went to Palo del Colle and found the house that my dad was born in. I also found the church where he was baptized as well as relatives that I did not know still existed. The house still has my grandfather’s name over the door. On this trip, while on a boat, my family asked the chef if I could use his kitchen to make some of their favorite dishes. The chef was so graceful and helped me make pizza and caponata.
I think I had a large influence on my grandchildren because they keep our Italian traditions alive for Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, only they make about thirteen fishes. They also keep the tradition alive for all the holidays. They do all the shopping, prepping, cooking and serving. I’m now their “Helper”!