By Frankie… excerpt from my book “A Full Moon Over Tuscany”
Almost daily I hear the question… “Are you Italian”? or “What part of Italy are you from”? Many want to know if I or my family come from Italy. Others just assume that I’m of Italian heritage.
The answer is not so simple. Let me explain by including the following excerpt from a book I wrote following our first trip to Italy…
I don’t know why Italy has been such a magnet to me, but it seems as though for most of my life, the power of all things Italian has grown like a porcini mushroom in my life.
I’ve always loved the food, which might explain of course why I opened an Italian restaurant. This in turn led to a love of Italian wines. But that is only the beginning of this story.
By bloodline, I can find no record of Italian blood in my ancestry. But somehow, somewhere, a bit of it must have snuck in. For one thing, I look a little Italian. And who, other than someone of that ancestry would name their son Frank? Every other Frank I know or have even heard of is Italian. I rarely ever meet any other Frank’s except for when I go to restaurant food shows and I hear their names announced over the loud speaker system, “Will Frank Carlucci please meet Frank Giovanni at the sausage booth”.
I was named after my grandfather who had been adopted by the Curtiss family. I’m told that his blood name was Natur, which is Danish. But who among the Danes would name their son Frank as opposed to say Sven or Thor? One of my theories is that they were maybe running from the Mafia or something, and when they were found out, they adopted out their son for his protection. They would of course have made up a name like Natur that was so unusual as to be believed.
Some years ago (long before Frankie’s), a co-worker of mine saw a photo of my extended family and asked if my family was Italian. Further evidence I believe of the truth of it all. I explained that we were mostly dark Danes (my mother was also mostly Danish) and that my half brother and sister also had olive complexion because their father was French.
But who are these “dark” Danes anyway and where did they come from? I thought Scandinavian people were fair skinned and blond? Could it be the influence of some Roman conquerors, or some who migrated north to escape their tyranny?
Enough of this scandalous talk! I should accept who I am, a European “mutt” and be done with it! Yet owning an Italian restaurant has just brought forth a certain schizophrenia about it all. People either assume I’m Italian (see I told you I looked Italian) or want to believe I am. It lends more credibility. Not being Italian leaves me feeling insecure as a result. And never even having been to Italy; well that just made matters worse. So off we go.
Their next assumption (or hope), is that if I’m not Italian I must at least be from the Bronx. It could never be that a Danish boy from the west coast would know how to cook Italian! And yes, I believe that I do have a gift for making great Italian food. Why would God give such a talent to a Dane?
So there you go. A clear cut answer don’t you think?! Gotta run now… I Need to call my cousin Giovanni.