There are some memories that are just etched in your mind. Surely, one would think that I would have more important things to recall then an Italian deli. But for whatever reason, I hold a very special place in my heart for Fraboni's a self-proclaimed "Madison Tradition". Really, it was (and may still be) a great deli. I remember it as small and cramped, the aroma of garlic and basil greeting you as you stepped through the front door. Shelves of canned tomatoes, and candy covered almonds. A real mom & pop shop.
As a child, Good Friday always meant a picnic lunch, purchased at Fraboni's. It was always the same sandwich. The Italian Sub. When I went online to check out the menu and read the description of my beloved sandwich, I was baffled. It isn't anything special. Meat, cheese, bread and "sub sauce". Mmmmm the sub sauce. I am guessing I would never select that item today. Instead I would pick something entirely more sensible, and entirely less delicious. A turkey sandwich, hold the cheese, hold the sub sauce. But as a kid, I didn't think about calories and I ate what I wanted. And I wanted that sub. It became an annual event. My mother usually found a way to have Good Friday off, even if we were Jews. When the weather was warm enough (which in Wisconsin is certainly not a guarantee), we would pick up our lunch and head to a local park. It felt as though we were ushering in Spring. In colder times we still did not pass up the opportunity for Italian subs, and we took them home and had an indoor picnic.
I love that memory. It was our tradition. We didn't celebrate Easter which was a great disappointment to me as a child. It seemed highly unjust that while most of the children in my neighborhood received giant baskets with jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, I got a buck for finding the passover matzo. But while we didn't have Easter ham, we did have Good Friday picnics, and while we never had baskets delivered by a bunny, come May 1st my mom would present colorful May Day baskets, filled with jelly bellies and bath beads from The Soap Opera on State Street.
Now it's up to me to form our family traditions, and this year I have done a lousy job. We had thanksgiving at my Aunt Beryl's house, I don't even remember what we brought. We went away at Christmas, and didn't bother to put up a tree. Passover we gratefully accepted the invitation to go to a friend's home, and that was lovely, but I didn't make a Seder at home. And now it's Good Friday and I am typing this on my lunch hour in my San Francisco office. There will be no Fraboni's. I haven't yet purchased the goodies for the Easter baskets because I have been too busy. It seems as though my heart just hasn't been in it, but that's not fair. My boys deserve to have those little memories too.
Next year I'll do better.