Memories of Easter Dinner on the block

April 17, 2001 6:18 AM
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THE CHICKEN’S IN THE OVEN! It wasn’t always easy growing up Italian with so many Irish friends. Holidays were especially tough. While nearly everyone was having ham, I dined on roast chicken and a ravioli or two.

The Murphy family enjoyed baked ham and potatoes with a few greens tossed in. My how those Irish loved potatoes, with greens a close second.

We ate holiday dinners no later than 1 p.m. Most of us went to early Mass. When we came home there was always gravy on the stove. It was a treat to dip bread into the sauce and . . . maybe, just maybe . . . if there were enough meatballs in the pot, sneak one on the side.

By the time dinner was served, everyone in the house was as hungry as could be. Chicken in the oven had something to do with it, but the aroma coming off the gravy pot piqued the appetite.

For whatever reason, none of us was allowed to get into the Easter candy until after dinner. That was maddening. But, it was all worthwhile once we gathered around the dining room table to eat. The soup came first. It was good, but it was only a tease for what was to follow. Everyone had to finish his soup before the roast chicken came out of the oven. Ravioli and meatballs were next.

No one rushed. Holiday dinners at my house lasted several hours. There was plenty of conversation between courses. By the time dessert arrived - usually a homemade rum cake - a lot of time had elapsed. Although it was sometimes a long, tiring day, the thoughts of dessert kept us awake.

By now it was after four o’clock. The Murphy’s had not yet begun to eat their Easter ham. They always insisted that I come by.

"When you get through at your house, come over and we’ll show you all about good Irish food," said Mr. Murphy.

I did.

They ate much faster than we Italians. The oldest sibling, Jimmy, was often accused of inhaling his food. I think he did.

Mrs. Murphy always made me a plate - a slice of ham, a dab of potatoes, and (yuk) some greens.

By the time I finished; I was stuffed. Thank goodness they allowed me to pass on dessert. It was a hot item at a Murphy meal. There was no one coaxing me to have a piece of pie.

That was all right with me. A little taste of potato and ham went far enough.

Looking back on all those years, I miss my Irish connection. But, to be honest with you, I’m glad we still have the chicken in the oven.

IN SEARCH OF JIM MASSOLI! Casino friends come and go. But, usually they stay within reach of the green felt tables. That’s not the case with Jim Massoli. For your information, Jim was a sweetheart of a casino executive. He cast a special charm over big players. He worked many of the Strip resorts before he rode off on a white horse with the love of his life. She was the daughter of a casino owner. The last I heard they were living the good life on the coast of Southern California.

BEING A DADDYKINS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE! I met up with John Gaughan, one of Michael’s scions, at Fellini’s the other night. He and his sidekick, John Vidmar, came over to the table to say hello. The young Gaughan always wears a smile. But, it was a little wider the other night.

"You know about my first baby, but did you know we have another one on the way?"

NOLAND PARRY, author of the famous Parry’s Power Guide, was in town for a few days with his family. He wanted nothing more than tickets to Circus Circus’ Adventuredome. At a time when family figures are hard to find, it’s a pleasure to have Noland and his family as friends.