Father’s Day comes with memories that warm the soul. When my father, Michele Roberto Tripolino, arrived in Madison from Sicily in 1921, he settled with his parents, Salvatore and Caterina, in the old neighborhood of Greenbush. He attended St. Joseph’s School and by the time he enrolled at Central High, his last name was spelled differently in order to be accepted.
Though short in stature, Mike Tripalin became an outstanding athlete and was described by local sportswriter “Roundy” Coughlin as one of the top three halfbacks in America, comparing him to “Red” Grange with predictions that Knute Rockne would knock him out. would make a star. After spending a year on the UW soccer team and being told he was too small for the conference, he received a scholarship to play for Jefferson College in Louisiana and traveled there by riding a train car to take one of to become the Four Horsemen of the South.
When Daddy’s goal of becoming a teacher and coach was interrupted by the Great Depression, he returned home, was hired by Oscar Mayer and spent 42 years in Beef Sales, enjoying the camaraderie of working with the Mayer family and local and foreign. city butchers before retiring. He loved people, was blessed with an uplifting attitude, avoided talking about others, and appreciated life’s many gifts, with family being the most important. He was an exceptional father, backyard gardener, active in local civic and sporting events, fishing up north in his cottage belonging to St. Bernard’s Church, enjoyed being an active lifelong member of the East Side Businessmen’s Association , was the screamer of “burgers” at the club’s annual festivals and became their first Italian president in 1960.
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My Hungarian born mother knew nothing about Italian food. Her first spaghetti dinner for Dad was ketchup on macaroni, which prompted him to introduce her to an English-speaking Sicilian couple who taught her how to make a sauce that became a winner at the Italian Workmen’s Club’s annual Sauce Tasting Competition that still continues today. our all time favorite.
Mike’s Favorite Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs
1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped
Very small amount of olive oil and butter
29-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes, undrained
16-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes, undrained
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste, rinsed with a small amount of water
1 tablespoon or less salt
Fresh basil or -½ teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of dried oregano, optional
1-2 slices of white bread, crusts removed
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
1-2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Pinch of dried oregano or basil, or combined
Saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil and butter. Remove from kettle and store or discard. Soak white crustless bread in cold water for a few seconds before squeezing dry and squeezing small pieces into the bowl of meat. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients, except the flour. Mix ingredients with your hands, make 1½ inch meatballs and roll each ball in flour, bouncing in your hand to leave just a thin layer of flour. Brown both sides in the same cauldron with oil and butter that browned onions and garlic.
When browned, add sauce ingredients to the same cauldron, starting with undrained tomatoes, press with a wooden spoon through a large sieve placed above the cauldron, also scraping the pulp from under the sieve. If the tomato pulp in the strainer is dry, discard it. Add tomato paste and spices to sauce, stir to blend, simmer covered, no more than 2 hours, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon.
Italian Coleslaw from the DePaola Family
As I continue to search for a creamy Italian coleslaw recipe, here are a few salad recipes from longtime readers and friends Penny and Ross DePaola and Sherie and Steve Sasso that remind me of how Dad used to make supper salads every night by wiping the inside of the salad bowl with a slice of raw garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients.
½ medium head of green or red cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Sasso’s Italian Coleslaw
This is a favorite coleslaw recipe from Sherie and Steve Sasso, who claim it tastes even better the next day.
1 whole cabbage, shredded
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
In a saucepan, bring olive oil, cider vinegar, sugar, garlic, basil, salt and pepper to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Let something cool. Pour warm dressing over cabbage and toss to coat. Let stand until the salad has cooled. When cooled, cover and place in the refrigerator to cool. When ready to serve, stir to mix the cabbage.
While rummaging through old favorites kept in my scrapbooks, I discovered a handwritten recipe shared long ago by former Greenbush neighborhood resident Conchera Capadona Pullara, who taught me how to make this on December 1 and take it to Dad to take his to celebrate 85th birthday.
“Thaw frozen dough and let it rise. Make sure it is oiled. Get up again. Grease a pizza pan. Press in with oiled fingers to push to the edges. You don’t need a rib on this pizza. Sprinkle with raw chopped onion. Press the anchovies into the dough. Press the sausages into the dough if you are using them. Open a 16 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes. Take about ¾ of the tomatoes, squeeze the juice over the dough, then tear the tomatoes here and there under. Sprinkle with oregano and grated Parmesan-Romanesque cheese. Press your fingers into the dough. Then more oregano and cheese. Let this rise for about 15 or 20 minutes. Then bake in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes. Turn and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes. Watch!”
Contact the Wisconsin State Journal’s Cooks’ Exchange, PO Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at [email protected]