The Story of One Emigrant Part III: Life in America

Last week’s installment left off when Angelo’s life was about to change. He had fallen in love, but America was calling. His dream was coming true and he was given the opportunity to head the US and build a new life. 

The Story of One Emigrant

Storia di un Emigrante

Part III: Life in America

            As Angelo sailed away from his home, he began to think. He thought about what he was leaving behind– his family, his friends, his Romana. He was 18 years old, alone, and heading to the unknown. While this might be scary to some people, Angelo turned this fear into determination– something still true of his character today. He was determined to prove himself, to make a life for himself and his future family. He knew he was getting an opportunity that people dreamed about, that he dreamed about, and he was not going to let this opportunity go past him. He got motion sick his first few days at sea, but kept reminding himself that he “was going to America.” After 12 days at sea, he saw the “beautiful, tall, welcoming sight of the Statue of Liberty.” 

The only personal belongings he had with him was a small hand bag, so he got through immigration rather quickly. He was met by his brother-in-law and uncle who were already in the US. He spent a few days in New York before driving to Chicago. As soon as he got to Chicago, he began to think about work, the reason he came to America. His uncle suggested he take some time to go to school and learn the English language before working. This didn’t fly with Angelo and he insisted on working while attending school, and so he did. He got a job in a factory on Armitage and Cicero earning $1.49 an hour. He also attended classes that taught about American history and the English language. As he began learning more, he was able to get himself a place to live and a better paying job. He was making more money and picked up a second job. After a little while, it was time to report for the draft. 

All while in America, he kept thinking about Romana. He wrote her every day beginning the first day he arrived in America. He dreamt about the day he would get to see her again.

He was finally called into service and sent to Camp Chaffee Arkansas where he went through his basic training for the army, which he describes as two extremely challenging months. They then sent him to Fort Dix, New Jersey where he would await his overseas assignment. With the Korean War going on, he anxiously awaited to find out where his assignment would take him. He soon was assigned to a second Armored Division stationed in Worms, Germany right on the Rhine on an army vessel. Being in Germany meant that he was closer to his hometown in Italy and closer to Romana. He found himself thinking about her often and wondering where she was. He wanted to know if she was still waiting for him. 

Angelo was on good terms with his supervisor and told him about his situation with the love of his life. He was granted a 10 day leave of absence and took the first train he could from Frankfurt. He had a long journey ahead of him- Frankfurt to Munich to Brennero to Bologna to, finally, Mola and Romana. He was picked up by his brother-in-law and the next day went straight to that familiar street corner to see Romana. He was nervous to see her and asked some friends to help set up a meeting. Angelo needed to see her and see for himself if she still remembered him after many long years. He was so nervous knowing that they would soon be in the same room. When he first saw her, she was no longer a young girl, but a grown, beautiful woman. They saw each other and everything stopped, neither of them able to speak.  They spent time catching up with each other– she told him that she was caring for her mother who had fallen ill and her mother had saldy passed and he told her about his time in America. As they were saying goodbye that evening, Angelo held Romana’s hands, looked into her beautiful eyes, and told her how much he still loved her and that he wanted to marry her. 

Angelo set up a plan to go with his older sister (because his mother and father were already in America) to Romana’s family home and ask her family for permission to marry her. Walking into her family’s home a few days later, Angelo felt a sense of warmth. He asked for her hand in marriage and was given the blessing from the family, but there were still logistics to be set. Romana and her family were a little uneasy about having a wedding so close to their mother’s death, but Angelo’s sister explained his busy timeline. She told them that he was only in town for a few days. His plan was to get engaged and come back a month before he would return to the US to get married. He then received the official answer that he had been waiting years for… he and Romana were going to get married! 

They spent the rest of his leave together and making plans. They had a dinner with both families where Angelo gave Romana a ring and they went to the cemetery to visit their loved ones that had passed. 

A few months later, Angelo returned to Mola and on September 24, 1956, they officially became husband and wife. As Angelo saw Romana enter the church, his eyes filled with joyful tears knowing this woman would soon be his wife. They had a small reception and spent the last few days of his leave honeymooning through Italy. 

Romana waited in Mola while Angelo completed his service then she would meet him in America. A few weeks after his term was completed, Romana made the journey to America and was greeted by Angelo in New York. They took the next flight to Chicago and spent the plane ride talked and dreamt about their future and their new life in America together. They both knew there would be a lot of hard work and sacrifices that had to be made, but they would enjoy a beautiful life together. 

Just like they had thought, they had a lot of work ahead of them. Check back next week for their new life in America and the start of Caputo’s

From Our Family To Yours

The Story of One Emigrant Part II: The Love Story

When we left off last week, Angelo was going to school to honor his parents’ wishes, even though what he really wanted to do was work. While helping out in the store in the late 1940s, Angelo caught a glimpse of a beautiful girl and a love story began.

The Story of One Emigrant

Storia di un Emigrante

 

Part II: The Love Story

In the store where Angelo worked, there was a large scale. One day, a girl with beautiful, long, dark braids came into the store holding a baby. She walked into the store, weighed herself holding the baby on that big scale and left. Angelo watched and waited for this girl to come into the store and wanted to know more about her. Angelo soon found out that this girl’s name was Romana and her older sister had a cantina near Angelo’s family’s store. Romana would watch her nephew, the baby she was holding when Angelo first saw her, during the day and bring the baby to her sister to feed him around the same time every evening. Angelo would see her walk by and wonder about her. One day, he decided he wanted to know more about her. He followed her for a little bit, and when he got close enough, he playfully tugged one of  her braids and said “ciao!” to get her attention. She immediately turned around, unamused, and carried on.

Romana and her mother    

Romana’s routine continued for about a year. Angelo kept watching her and admiring her beauty until one night he got the courage to talk to her. They would briefly chat and Angelo took every opportunity to strike up a conversation with her. He learned things like the fact that her dad travelled for his work, that she had two brothers and two sisters, and where her name came from. Romana was not a common name in Italy, but Romana was born on October 28th which is known for the March of Rome or Marcia Su Roma, so her parents named her Romana. Those little talks helped them to build a friendship. Angelo would find excuses to run errands and hang out on the corner where her house was just so he could see her and talk to her. One day, Angelo kissed her cheek. After which, Romana jokingly told him “you have to marry me now.” Angelo laughed it off because felt he still had a lot to prove before he could be worthy enough to be her husband. 

Romana, her mother, and her siblings

In the meantime, Angelo was assuming more responsibility on his family farm. His older brother and father had found their way to America, so Angelo was the man of the house. Angelo found himself dreaming of going to America and what it would be like to work there,  The Land of Opportunity. It wasn’t possible for him yet, so he worked harder, picking up the extra work that was required. Angelo still took every opportunity to see Romana, like waiting for her when she would run errands. 

The time Angelo and Romana spent together was limited because of how much work needed to be done. He kept working hard, hoping that one day he would have his chance to go to the United States. In June of 1950, Angelo returned to his house after a day at the farm and found a postcard from the American Council informing him of a new opportunity for him. Because his father was working in the US at the time of his birth, he was eligible to enter the military draft and gain his US citizenship. Angelo knew this was an opportunity he could not pass up and that “it was like a blessing from up above.” He found out he could leave Mola in as soon as 24 hours. He could begin the new life he dreamt of in America, but he had a few loose ends in Mola. One was that he was in charge of the farm and there was a full crop of almonds and grain that had to be harvested. The second was his Romana. He decided to stay in Italy for another two weeks so he could finish the crop and teach his younger brothers what to do in his absence. 

On June 20, 1950, Angelo rode his bike to that familiar street corner with a handwritten goodbye note and a carnation. He put it in an open window in Romana’s house. He talked with a couple friends to make sure they would watch over her while he was gone and if they got a chance, to tell her he had to leave for work, but someday, he would return to her. 

On June 21, 1950, Angelo and his father set out for Naples where Angelo would board a ship and begin his journey to America.   

Check back next week for a continuation of this beautiful love story and Angelo’s journey to America

From Our Family To Yours

The Story of One Emigrant: The Beginning

 October is National Italian Heritage month. To celebrate, we are recounting the story of our founder, Angelo Caputo. He led a life of hard work and sacrifice to get him where he is today. As his granddaughter, I have been so lucky to hear his story and learn from him first hand. I’ve been able to travel with him to his hometown and listen to his childhood memories of growing up in difficult times. His story is one that I believe should be told and I am honored to share it with you. 

The Story of One Emigrant

Storia di un Emigrante

 

Part I: The Beginning

 

Angelo Caputo was born on January 1st, 1932 at 4am in his family home on Via Zuccarino in Mola di Bari, Italy into a very hardworking family. Their family operated two small businesses at the time of his birth. One business was a wholesale outlet for farmers and the other was a grocery store. They had small and humble quarters for their home. While his mother worked at the grocery store, he stayed at her side in a little makeshift crib. His mother always said he was a good baby who cried very little, something she appreciated during the long, busy days at the store. By the age of four, he was a typical, busy child and his mother entrusted him to Signorina Maria, a teacher who prepared kids for “asilo” or pre-school. He was with Signoria Maria Monday-Friday and he learned many things including how to recite “poesie” or poems. Saturdays were typically busy at their family grocery store so he would spend the day with family friends that lived nearby and practice what he learned with Signorina Maria. 

By the age of 6, he was ready to start helping out in the family grocery store! He started by watching his mom, then would assist her and help organize the products and clean the store. He would even help with collecting money. There were no cash registers at the time, so the family would put the money in a drawer.

When he started 4th grade, he was ready to transition to helping on the family farm. He would get out of school at 2pm and go home to eat quickly. His only way to get to the farm was on an adult bike, which was difficult for his size, but he made it work. This was his routine every day.

 

He finished grammar school in 1944 and, needless to say, World War II had affected their family. His father, despite being older, was called into the army and his family experienced difficult times. The following years brought many hardships for them and many families. Schools closed and bombs were being dropped in nearby towns. Conditions became dangerous and they were forced to closed their grocery store and move to the farm with a  few other families for their safety. As an 11 year old boy, he didn’t mind not having to go to school and enjoyed the company of the other kids who were sheltered there. Food was scarce, but they considered themselves blessed because on the farm they were able to have fruit and potatoes everyday. Although this was little, it was more than others had to eat.

Finally, the war ended and the schools reopened. But during this time away from school, Angelo had gotten a feel for working full time and knew that working was what he wanted to do, not go to school. His parents were not fond of the idea and made him keep up with his studies. He continued attending school, but became even more adamant that he wanted to quit school and work full time. To deter him, his father would give him the hardest and toughest jobs like unloading railroad cars of fertilizer and heavy bales of hay.  This never bothered him, but made him hungrier for work. 

This hunger to succeed and desire to work hard fueled him in his future endeavors. 

It was during this time in 1946 that a beautiful young lady with long, dark braids came into the store where he was working. This beautiful young lady was named Romana and would become his wife.

 

Check back next week for the love story between Angelo and Romana

 

From Our Family To Yours

 

Fall Fests

Fall has officially begun! We are getting into the fall spirit and want you to join us. This year, we are excited to have Fall Fests at every store. The events will go from 10am to 3pm with a lot to see, do, and eat!

The main attraction is pumpkins! One of my favorite parts of fall is pumpkin carving, especially because my family has a unique way to carve pumpkins. We will have a plethora of pumpkins to choose from at our Fall Fests– big or small, round or not, long stem or short stem– there are so many to choose from. In addition to pumpkins, we’ll have plenty of other things you need to decorate your home for fall like barrels of hay and corn stalks.

With fall comes the craving for specific foods. We will have some of our famous Caputo’s items to eat. Bratwurst, hot dogs, our famous chili, and more. Of course, can’t forget dessert. We’ll have elephant ears, cinnamon doughnuts, gourmet caramel apples, cider, pies, and more. 

We will also have some exciting activities. Each event will have a face painter and balloon artist. There will also be fun characters (like Mickey Mouse!), pumpkin painting, coloring, and tons of photo opportunities!

Bring your family and get in the fall spirit with us!

From Our Family To Yours

 

 

*The face painters, balloon artists, and characters will be at the events for a limited time, message us for details*

Game Day Essentials

Football season is officially back! This means Sundays spent in front of the TV with friends, family, and food! While you can’t always count on a win from your favorite team (field goals are important), you can be sure that Caputo’s is here to cover all your food needs. Here are the top 5 items you need at your tailgates and watch parties.

 

Chips and Guac

The sign of any good party is a good chip setup. Our homemade dips are the key. Our guacamole is made fresh daily in house using high quality ingredients. In spicy or mild, you can satisfy all the cravings of your guests. Eb which is why our homemade tortilla chips are the best pair. Try our homemade tortilla chips. Made fresh each day using our tortilla machine imported from Mexico, they are crispy, fresh, and delicious!  

Potato Salad

Another good appetizer is potato salad. You can find many different potato salads in our deli section. Grandma’s grandpa’s, with mustard, baked potato, and more! These are all easy items to scoop into a bowl and let people enjoy!

Sub sandwiches 

Sandwiches and deli meats are a staple during game days. Our 3ft sub sandwiches are a great option for this. They come in Italian and American versions and are great for sharing. The American sub sandwich contains oven roasted turkey, polish ham, hard salami, and American cheese on a french baguette. The Italian sub sandwich contains Volpi genoa salami, mortadella, mild capicola, and provolone on a french baguette. They are easy to cut and serve!

Burgers and Sausage

For the main event, grilling! Burgers and sausage are a must on any grilling occasion. Our sausage is made in-house daily using recipes that have been tweaked and perfected throughout the years. If you want Polish sausage, Italian sausage, Barese sausage, and more. Our famous sausages are juicy and full of high quality ingredients which make it truly unparalleled to any other sausage. Burgers are a classic. If you’re tired of plain burgers and want something a little different, try our stuffed burgers. In three different varieties, our stuffed burgers are filled with the best ingredients. Pre-filled, all you have to do is grill it! The result is a great burger with everything you need inside!

Brownies and Cookies

Can’t forget the dessert! Our homemade cookies and brownies are the way to go. Easy to eat and in different varieties, they will satisfy your sweet tooth. Our brownies are rich in flavor and decadent. If you want to take it one step further, warm up the brownie and add a scoop of ice cream, it will not disappoint. We also have many different kinds of cookies. Butter cookies, almond cookies, or our pre-packaged cookies are easy to serve! Our bagged cookies are available in chocolate chip, m&m, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, and sugar– so some for everyone!

Happy football season and happy eating!

From Our Family To Yours

Friselle: What it is and what to do with it

Whether you’re looking for an appetizer, a snack or even lunch, this hard italian bread is a solution to all. Native to the Puglia region of Italy, friselle is a twice baked piece of dough in a ring shape. 

Because friselle is a plain bread, you have a lot of freedom to add ingredients and make it delicious! It is hard, bagel shaped bread. It is baked a few times to make it crunchy. Because it is not soft, so it is always a good idea to soak it– with with water or olive oil- to soften it up and make it easier to eat!

Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy friselle, either as a meal or as an appetizer to share!

 

Oil & Vinegar

One way to eat it is a simple dressing! What you’ll need is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano. Start by adding a little water to soften the friselle. Once the water is absorbed, add vinegar and oil. Then season it with salt, pepper, and oregano to your liking.  The balsamic vinegar adds a nice flavor that awakens the plain friselle. This is even good to use as an appetizer because of its simplicity.

Tomatoes

This version is a twist on bruschetta. What you’ll need here is cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Start with putting olive oil on the friselle. While the olive oil is absorbing, wash the cherry tomatoes and slice them. I like to cut them in half slices to make them flat and easy to eat. Douse the cut tomatoes in olive oil and put them on the friselle. Then add salt and oregano and top it with some fresh basil!

Avocado and Ricotta

I like to think of this as an Italian avocado toast! You’ll need olive oil, salt, pepper, avocado, and ricotta (or any cheese you prefer). Again, you’re going to start by putting a light layer of olive oil on the friselle to soften it. Then cut your avocado. You can cut it in slices or even mash it. Take your ricotta and spread a layer on the friselle. Then add another small amount of oil and top with salt and pepper! Another great cheese for this version is mozzarella or our homemade bocconcini! 

Another good and clean tip is to use spray olive oil! It comes in a can and when you push it, the oil comes out. It allows for precise and controlled sprays, great for foods like this!

There are so many fun ways to eat friselle and so many different things you can add to it! Do you like to eat it a different way? Let us know down below in the comments!

From Our Family To Yours

 

Keeping Traditions Alive

 As a family owned and operated business, we are committed to helping you and your family keep traditions alive and teach younger generations. Whether meals, rituals, stories, amongst other things; we know how important traditions are. Two important Italian traditions are canning tomatoes and making wine!

The tradition of canning tomatoes can date back to the 1700s when people began putting their summer produce in jars as a way to preserve them and stock up for the winter. Since then, canning tomatoes has transformed into a yearly family get together. In late August, we truck in loads of locally grown, vine ripened tomatoes. Vine ripened is a key part of our tomatoes because some tomatoes are picked green and ripened through different processes. Our tomatoes are ripened fully on the vine, then picked. In doing this, they maintain the natural sugars crucial to making delicious sauce. In addition to the tomatoes by the bushel, we also sell jars and tools to aid in making the process easier. You don’t want to dirty your clothes, so pick up an “I Love shopping at Caputo’s Apron” to make it a clean process too   

Another important tradition amongst Italian-American families is wine making! The wine making tradition is an involved process that requires hard work and patience. We bring in a wide variety of wine grapes and juice every year for this custom. The juice comes from Italy and the grapes come from a grower in California. The grower has a specific process too when it comes to picking grapes. Our grower made the decision to leave the grapes on the vine to allow the sugar to continue to develop in the fruit. The sugar in the fruit is vital to the alcohol content that will be found in your homemade wine. We have tons of supplies for your wine making get togethers. From corks to bottles to pressers, we have the crucial tools you need to get your wine making process underway. We sell wine grapes out of our warehouse located in Carol Stream and out of our Elmwood Park store. Wine grapes will be available within the next few weeks!

Let us know how Caputo’s is involved in your family traditions. Comment down below with some of your family traditions or email us at events@caputomarkets.com with pictures and stories!

 

From Our Family To Yours

 

How to Create the Perfect Charcuterie Board

The key to any party is a good antipasto tray. Your guests will love to pick on an array of foods before, during, and maybe even after the main course! With so many options it may be hard to pick exactly what varieties to put on your tray. We’ve got some tips on how to perfect the craft and some recommendations for what to include.

There are a few things to remember when creating an antipasto tray or charcuterie board. 

1. Balance your board

 The first is to always have a balance. It is important to have a good mix of sweet and salty items to heighten different taste buds and reach different senses. It is important to have a few meat options, a few cheese options, and some crunch

2.  Add texture

Cut your items in different shapes. This will add texture and give you more room to play on your board. 

3. Include palate cleansers

 Another thing to remember is that you need palate cleansers. When you’re eating a variety of foods, you want to have a clean palette so that you can get the full taste of the food. Wine crackers are a great addition to any tray because they won’t dehydrate you and they have a hint of vanilla to clear the taste and help you fully appreciate your food and drinks. 

4. Have fun with it

You are in charge of what goes on the board. Play with the tastes, colors, and arrangements on your board. You can get as creative as you want!

If you’re wanting to make a tray, but looking for some guidance on what items to use, look no further! I’ll walk you through exactly what was on our most recent antipasto tray.

 

The first thing we’ll start with is Parma Prosciutto. This is a salty deli meat that is easy to eat and high quality. For this tray, we got 6 slices of prosciutto from the deli, but we are going to make it go a long way. Cut each piece in quarters and roll each quarter on a bias or an angle. Rolling the meat on an angle changes the taste making it lighter and easy to chew. 

One of the items on our board is our homemade bocconcini. We chose bocconcini for a few reasons, but one of the top reasons is because we love the taste! The taste can be attributed to it’s unique features. Bocconcini  it is soft, creamy, and adds a hint of salt. It is also a contrast in color to some of the other items on our board.  

The olives we chose were castelvetrano olives. These are green olives imported from Castelvetrano, Sicily. I normally do not eat olives, but these are unlike any olive I have ever tasted! These are buttery and smooth. They are easy to snack on and have an almost sweet flavor. In addition to the taste, the green color is vibrant and beautiful on a charcuterie board. 

We then took pepperazzi or peppadew peppers. These can be found on our olive bars. They are hollow, round, red peppers harvested in Peru. They are brined in a medium spicy juice, but then glazed with a syrup to mask the natural spice of the pepper. We stuffed the hollow peppadew with honey goat cheese. The honey goat cheese acted as a creamy and sweet addition to the medium spiced pepper. 

The next cheese we added was to compliment the spice in the stuffed peppadews. To do this, we chose rattlesnake cheese. It is an aged cheddar that will affect all your tastebuds. It is made with tequila, lime, and habanero pepper. The tequila and lime are sweet and open your palate to the creaminess and softness of the cheese. When that happens, the habanero kicks in and creates a new, flavor filled experience.  This cheese does have a kick and you may not want this on your board if you are sensitive to spice. 

To get away from the spice and ready to open your pallet to the next food, we put some crackers. These crackers are made with rosemary, pecans, and raisins. They do a great job of creating a new taste in your mouth so you have a clean slate for the next tasting. 

Our next cheese is the Rustic Red Cheddar. This is a sweeter, grittier cheddar. It is a good contrast to the rattlesnake cheese because the Rustic Red is not creamy or spicy. It adds texture to the board. In addition to a different taste is the bright orange color of the cheese adds a good visual look. 

Another item we are going to use is salami. This is a little heavier than prosciutto, but cutting it on an angle again will make it a little lighter. It is another salty item that has a unique taste. 

To add a little sweetness, we are going to cut up a date and walnut cake. This cake is just pressed dates and walnuts shaped into a cake form. It is softer and has a naturally sweet taste from the dates. We are also going to use caramelized walnuts. These are sweet and crunchy. They aren’t sticky because of the caramelization process. 

Can’t forget the wine! Charcuterie boards pair well with a Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio to keep it light and balanced.

Going to make your own charcuterie board? We want to see! Send us some pictures of your creations!

From Our Family To Yours       

 

An Instagram Worthy, Delicious, and Nutritious Lunch

We live life in a hurry. We are always running out the door or from one place to the next. In our hectic lives, food can get put on the back burner, especially lunch. In the middle of a busy day, it is easy to get caught up and not have time to eat or you need something quick. This often means that you sacrifice nutrients, but not anymore! Our pre-made salads are easy to bring along with you, they are full of nutrients, and delicious!

In our prepared foods section, you will find a variety of different salads. Full of different ingredients and flavors, these aren’t your typical boring salads. They are vibrant with color and packed with taste. Our wide variety will satisfy any cravings you may have. They are made fresh daily. The dressing comes on the side so you can add as much or as little as you wish, and your lettuce is never soggy! 

One of our favorites is the greek salad. The greek salad has onions, black olives, and feta cheese with a Greek, vinegarette dressing. If you’re looking for a salad with a little bit of everything, try the chopped salad! 

The chopped salad is packed with ingredients including egg, cucumber, tomato, chicken, carrots, and more! This has plenty of greens, vegetables, and proteins to make it a complete meal. 

If you want something classic, we offer the essentials like a garden salad or Caesar salad. The options don’t stop there! We have a southwest salad, bacon ranch salad, Julienne salad, and more.

Try them out and let us know which is your favorite!

From Our Family To Yours

 

Back To School

As the summer winds down, people start to get into back to school mode. Kids start looking at their schedules. They need new shoes, new school supplies, new clothes, and more! As it gets closer, you may feel like there is so much to do and so little time. One thing you don’t have to worry about is what to pack for lunch because we’ve got your back!

One good option for lunch is hummus! Kids love hummus and it’s good for you. It’s packed with plant based proteins. The single servings are great to throw in the lunchbox and the hummus with pretzels are even easier!

There are also many different on-the-go boxes that have a variety of snacks in individual boxes. You can pick the ones that best suit your cravings. Sweet or salty options, or sweet and salty options, the variety boxes make it so you don’t have to choose! There are also variety packs of crackers. Cracker sandwiches filled with peanut butter or cheese are another good way to sneak a little protein into the lunch box. 

Bites are trays that come with a fruit, a protein, and a cheese. These are delicious and nutritious. They get a little bit of all the essentials in your diet and they are compact!

For the meat lovers, try some snack packs.  An on-the-go container filled with cheese, taralli, and salami are delicious! They are like the italian lunchables!

And if you just like salami, try these Busseto salami snack cups. They don’t need to be refrigerated, which makes it great for grab and go!

Don’t forget the drinks! Mini water bottles, juice, or milk. We have smaller version that you can throw in the lunchbox without taking up too much room. 

We have plenty of options that are good for you and delicious, so you can feel good about what you give your kids to eat!

From Our Family To Yours