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Who I Am:
Hi there, I’m Kate Famiglietti. I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York, and I don’t think I could ever live anywhere other than New York City. it’s my one true love forever and always. I’m currently living in Queens, New York in the house that my grandparents owned for almost 60 years. It’s where me, my brother, and a few roommates call home. As the house that my dad and his three siblings were raised in, my family’s roots in my home are incredibly strong, meaning I can basically never get away from them – which is exactly the way that I like it.
I’m a photographer at heart, and by day I work at a hospital as an Ophthalmic Photographer (I photograph people’s eyes). By night (and weekends), I photograph everything from friends, to street scenes, to paid events. Recently I have extended my love of photography to my love of food and cooking, and that’s the main reason for this blog.
But there is another reason: my family. I call myself an Italian Jew because of my parents: my mom is Jewish and my dad is Italian, both of which are incredibly rich and very food-focused cultures. Really though, you’d be hard pressed to find a culture that isn’t food focused. That’s what I love most about food: it brings people together in a way that almost nothing else can. You’ll see me talk a lot about how my Italian and Jewish roots influence what I cook and the way that I eat, and you’ll get a lot of general tips that I have gathered from my family over the years. But you’ll also come to understand, if you haven’t already, the way that food helps us to build memories and enjoy our lives with those who surround us.
After all, that’s what life is all about.
The Story Of “The Two Bananas”
I’m a city girl at heart, but my childhood weekends were spent at my dad’s country house in upstate New York (what I consider upstate – about 2 hours north of the city – I know a lot of you don’t consider this upstate New York). The usual suspects on our country weekends were my dad, my brother, my brother’s best friend Josh, and my grandparents. I was always very close with my grandpa “Papa Mike,” and with his help I learned a few vital skills that I still pride myself on to this day: how to draw, how to cook and what tools to take into a survival situation (a knife and a rope, both of which he had on him at all times). Looking back on it, my grandpa was quite the character. He earned his tough skin as a child of the Depression growing up in Brooklyn, and as a Marine stationed on a South Pacific Island during World War II. He had all the trappings of a man who had lived a rough, albeit full, life: a long raised scar on his back from the war, a hand with a pinky finger more crooked than you could imagine, a relic of days spent as a catcher on a neighborhood baseball team. And then there was the way he spoke and the words he used, typical of a man raised in Brooklyn with Italian immigrant parents; words like “capiche?” (meaning “understand?” the real Italian word being “capisce”), or “stunad” (meaning “idiot,” the real Italian word being “stonato” meaning “out of tune”). And then there was one of his favorites: “banana,” which is where my blog name comes from.
To Papa Mike, a banana was someone who didn’t know what they were doing, someone who was prone to making mistakes, basically another word for idiot. He always meant it in an endearing way, and I can still hear him in my head shouting out, “Ay, whaddaya doin, ya banana?!” Along with all of the semi-made-up Italian slang, “banana” was one of his favorites.
And so, on one of those quiet weekends in the country, he said to me as I’m sure he had many times in my young life, “Kate, go get me the two bananas over there!”
To my six-year-old self, of course this meant that he wanted me to fetch my brother Ben and his friend Josh, both of whom he referred to as bananas quite often.
“Ben, Josh, Papa Mike wants you,” I called to them.
Ben and Josh emerged glassy-eyed from playing video games. “What did you want, Papa Mike?”
Papa Mike looked at them, confused. “What are you guys doing here?”
“Kate said you wanted us.”
Naturally I had assumed, from all the times hearing Papa Mike refer to different people in multiple situations as bananas, that fetching him “the two bananas” could mean nothing other than Ben and Josh. But no. Papa Mike looked back to me. “I meant the two bananas on the counter over there!”
And of course, there were two actual bananas sitting on the counter.
To this day, almost twenty years later, I have never lived that story down. My family tells it at almost every large family function to any newcomers who haven’t heard it before, almost like a rite of passage. It’s one of our stories, one of many, that we hold dear to our hearts, as we do the memory of Papa Mike. We use it to welcome people into our lives… into our family. And I use it now to welcome you to my blog, to my life… through food and family.