I will never forget the first time I bit into a boukinaught. Sweet clouds of ricotta cream bursting in my mouth, powdered sugar falling to the tablecloth like snow, my expectant grandmother observing with eager eyes.
For me, this is what history looks like.
As the granddaughter of Italians, love for pastries is embedded in my soul. Each member of my family has their favorite — cannolis, sfogliatella, zeppole. No matter our age, nothing can tarnish the excitement of opening up a white bakery box.
My grandparents began taking me to Little Italy — the New Haven borough in which they were raised — a few years ago.
Historically a safe haven for Italian immigrants, this neighborhood housed hundreds of families that worked to preserve their unique culture in the midst of pressures to assimilate, conform, and Americanize.
Each time I return to this place, something inside of me shifts. My life is much different from the lives of my ancestors. However, the invisible string of the past continues pulling me back to this hodgepodge city of immigrants.
Of people searching for a place to call home.
I know that wherever I go, there are parts of my heritage I will always carry with me. My olive-toned skin, my passion for languages and cultures serve as reminders that history is the foundation on which I am built.