Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cheech

ceci, chick peas, garbanzos.....




When they've been roasted so they are crunchy, we pronounce it "cheech". Growing up, that was one of the treats at our church's annual feast for our patron saint. (For anyone who is not familiar with Italian Roman Catholic churches, most of them are named for a saint, which is their patron. Thus, St Anne's R.C. Church, St Anthony's, etc.) In the middle of the summer the church would hold a festival, or "feast", which is several evenings of food, games, rides, raffles, and more food. Pizza Fritta (fried dough) is the biggest draw, but if you're lucky you'll find a stand that still sells small bags of ceci. They're dry, like snacking on nuts, and they were tradition at feasts around here. They used to be sold in small waxed paper bags with the top twisted closed, now they're in zipper baggies. You'd buy them early in the evening and many were "ping-ed" down on friends from high up on the ferris wheel ;)

I grew up in a very Italian section of town. To mark the beginning of the feast, a few chosen men from the parrish would carry the statue of our saint through the neighorhood. Musicians would accompany them to announce the procession. When people heard the music advancing, they would rush out of their homes to pin dollar bills on ribbons which adorned the statue. (Hey, this was back in the 60's, when most mothers were still at home cleaning and cooking for the family.) There was also a "vigil" at the church. People signed up to take turns praying to our saint.

So in mid-August you ran into friends from school, rode the merry-go-round, ate candy apples, and brought home little trinkets that were won in games of chance. And it was always someone from out of the area who won the raffle for the car!

I went back to the old neighborhood twice this past week for this year's feast. Most of the faces have changed, but the spirit is still there. It was terrific.

1 comment:

Maria said...

I have worked our church fair for so long and I do remember the ceci (we pronounce it chech). We don't sell ceci any longer. I don't know a fair that does in our area. At my church, they don't have the rides any longer, either....but the food is just wonderful!!! Mostly Italian, but they have added Polish and Spanish to the mix now too and it is really good! We have the statue, too. It is right next to our booth. It is not "paraded" around any longer, but sits there quietly, waiting for the patrons to visit and pray and to pin on the dollar! I love traditions!