From 1963 to 1968 Mother, Daddy, Uncle Steve, Jeffrey and I lived in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Those were very idyllic times; the island was our playground and we explored every mile of it together.
Every day after school, Jeffrey and I went to Sebastian’s on the Waterfront where our parents and Uncle Steve worked. We’d hang out there, sometimes helping bus tables and we’d have a treat. After a while, we’d leave the restaurant and explore the island before heading back to the house to do homework and prepare dinner.
In 1968 I became ill, and to this day I still don’t know what I had. Jeffrey said it was dengue fever. All I know is I had some kind of tropical fever and wasn’t getting better; so my parents decided we had to leave the island and head back to New York to see if I can be treated there. My parents were actually planning on our moving to Hawaii when I got sick, so we detoured back to Brooklyn, NY to live on Keap Street with Nana while we saw doctors.
While I was recuperating, the adults had to go out and get jobs. Daddy and Uncle Steve started working at GHI and then moved to IBM, while Mother worked at Music Dealer Services in Manhattan. Nana was working at Cascade Laundry Services in Brooklyn. While everyone was working, the responsibility of looking after us fell on Aunt Liz. It really stunk not being able to go out to play with Jeffrey and my cousins, Val, Steve and Jodi.
Nana took a special interest in making me well and began administering her own old-world Italian recipes to heal me. She made me drink broccoli and spinach juice, eat baked fish, and liver as well as lots of fresh fruit and vegetables from her garden. I didn’t mind the fish and fresh fruit and vegetables, it was the spinach and broccoli broth and liver that made me nauseous!
One home-remedy I especially liked was her fruit macerated with wine. Nana would take fresh apples, strawberries, cherries, oranges and peaches and slice them up and then pour home-made wine over them and let them sit on the counter for hours. Later on after dinner, she’d make me eat the fruit and drink the wine telling me “drink it; it’s good for your blood!” I didn’t know it at the time, but Nana was making her version of sangria.
I especially loved it when she would just slice up peaches in a cup and pour the wine over them. The sweetness of the peaches mixed with the wine was pure heaven! Today, people go to fancy restaurants for this treat and doctors tout its medical benefits. My Nana was way ahead of her time.
I give you the easiest recipe you’ll ever encounter, Nana’s peaches with wine!
As Nana would say, “Drink it; it’s good for you!”
Fresh, very ripe peaches – sliced with the skin removed
Red wine – Merlot, Chianti, Lambrusco – your choice
Place a few peaches in a wine glass
Pour the wine over the peaches
Let them sit at room temperature for a few hours
Enjoy after dinner