As soon as Eleanore Berra Marfisi's book I Remember Nonna arrived in the office, an irresistible baking urge came over Night & Day Global. Along with home remedies and photos of Italian-American women on the Hill in the early years (including pictures of these ladies in the kitchen), the book also includes 33 dessert recipes -- Ms. Day knew she had to preheat the oven, and fast! What fun these women seemed to have preparing food! Now, which recipe to try?
Above all things, Ms. Day is a lady, so she decided on savoiardi, or ladyfingers, natch. Unfortunately, Ms. Day's fingers (pictured) weren't as dainty as the name implies -- they were more like the thumbs and broken fingers of a crazy lady. But would the shape affect the taste? No! In fact, crazy-shape cookies, made from a tried-and-true Italian recipe straight from the old country, are a great way to improve your office popularity, as Ms. Day found out.
Through her baking trials, Ms. Day also learned why cooking holds families together, and how the recipes in Nonna not only reminded new Americans of the lives they left behind but also made them feel comfortable in the new world. You, too, can share this comfort: The author signs copies of her book from 1 to 3 p.m. at Sur La Table (295 Plaza Frontenac, Frontenac; 314-993-0566). Pick up a copy, and try your hand in Nonna's kitchen. -- Alison Sieloff
Fresh Start And fresh sounds
The new year is traditionally a time for new beginnings; this year, why not start your transformation into a better, smarter, more cultured person a day early? Lay the groundwork for a classy new year by taking your mom to the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra's New Year's Eve performance. Music Director Designate David Robertson takes the reins for a special 7:30 p.m. program featuring Amy Kaiser and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra Chorus and secret guest stars. How special is special? The word on the street is that you "might want to bring your dancing shoes" to Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1700). Tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime show are $20 to $150, and, owing to the First Night celebration in Grand Center, you should check out www.slso.org for information on parking and street closures. -- Paul Friswold