Dinner is served! It’s Italian!

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Apr 23, 2014 - 12:11 PM

Photo: Dinner was about to be served to member of the Gloucester Italian Club and their guests. Hostess Selena Collins, left, is shown with guest Brigit Peck, and members Patrizia Nesbit, Metilla Haskins, Jennifer Zemanek, Milena Vincent and Roberta Eller. The ladies spent the evening conversing in their native language, enjoying the fellowship and dining on delicious Italian dishes. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Dinner was about to be served to member of the Gloucester Italian Club and their guests. Hostess Selena Collins, left, is shown with guest Brigit Peck, and members Patrizia Nesbit, Metilla Haskins, Jennifer Zemanek, Milena Vincent and Roberta Eller. The ladies spent the evening conversing in their native language, enjoying the fellowship and dining on delicious Italian dishes. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

The mere mention of Italian food, which had its beginning 13,000 years ago, arouses your palate instantly. While each region of Italy claims distinction for specific foods, there are two ingredients synonymous with Italian cookin—olive oil and pasta. Although beef, pork and lamb are plentiful, they do not play a major role as in everyday Italian food. Seafood, poultry, vegetables, grains, legumes and cheese each claim an Italian role in the daily diet.

A group of ladies in Gloucester can tell you all about Italian foods and then prove they know of what they speak when they cook and serve their family dishes. These ladies are natives of Italy who organized three to four years ago, calling themselves the Gloucester Italian Club. They get together one Sunday a month, “for an evening of wonderful Italian food, wine and lively animated conservations. If you can converse in Italian, please join us.”

The April gathering was held at the home of Frank and Selena Collins in Bena. Frank (not Italian) is not new to Gloucester. He once worked here in the 1970s, moved to California, and returned in 2003. “I’m happy to be back,” commented Frank as he continued doing most of the cooking for the evening meal. Selena, from Bolzano in the region of Trentino, has been in this country for 41 years. No one is more aware than Selena of which stores within a 50-mile radius carry Italian products.

“Coincidentally, all of the current members are from northern Italy,” noted Metilla Haskins, a club founder (with the exception of member Jennifer Zemanek of Mathews, who studied in Italy and wants to keep up her Italian language). “In northern Italy we never knew about meatballs. That’s something I learned in this country,” explained Metilla. She is from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, but her hometown is Aviano. Metilla’s daughter, Brigit Peck, who resides in Italy, was visiting her mother in Gloucester. “I can’t wait to get back.”

Milena Vincent, the newest member of the six, is from the Pordenone in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia lives in Gloucester and Newport News. She has been married to her retired military husband for 20 years. Milena, like all the majority of the ladies, married an American man and then moved to this country.