Nonna’s Wine Taralli
In a tiny house surrounded by a forest of fig trees in Rende, Cosenza, Calabria, my great great grandmother taught her little granddaughter how to make “Nonna’s Wine Taralli.” That little girl would eventually become my grandmother and she would also teach me the art of wine taralli-making. Two cups of my grandfather’s homemade white wine, fourteen ounces of canola oil and sugar, two teaspoons of baking powder, an envelope of “Lievito Bartolino,” three and a half pounds of flour and “un po’ di aranzi,” as my Italian grandmother says, which are the licorice-flavoured seeds of the anise. These ingredients combine to make “Nonna’s Wine Taralli” – a cookie-textured, ring shaped and slightly sweetened version of the traditional Italian taralli, whose recipe has been passed on for generations by the women in my southern-Italian family. Come fall and spring, a grandmother makes an abundance of wine taralli in the presence of daughters and granddaughters who watch intently and help accordingly. According to Searle’s Taxonomy, the making of “Nonna’s Wine Taralli” is regarded as ritualistic behavior as it is collective, formal, performance and formative, strengthens existing social statuses and relationships, and exudes ultimate goals. To begin, the making of “Nonna’s Wine Taralli” is consistent with Searle’s Taxonomy as it is collective, meaning there are at least two people (Searle 19) as well as formal since it calls for conformity, cannot be improvised and is not spontaneous (20). The activity is collective. It involves at least two and at most three women: a grandmother, her daughter and her granddaughter in any which combination. The activity is formal. Each and every ingredient is essential. There is not much, if any, room for improvisation. The flavour is entirely dependent on each and every ingredient. If certain ingredients are missing, sacrificed or substituted, the wine taralli will not taste as they are expected to taste and should...
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