Clara’s Final Episode

I’ve been following the Great Depression Cooking series on YouTube for years, not so much for the recipes as for the joy of watching the gracious great-grandmother Clara Cannucciari share her knowledge, wisdom and stories along with simple, inexpensive Italian-American family food from the 1930s. The series began in 2007 with an episode on Pasta and Peas when Clara was 91 years old. The show was lovingly produced and directed by Clara’s grandson, Christopher Cannucciari, and eventually led to a DVD and book.

The final episode of the series was just released. It opens with Clara looking straight at the audience and saying, Thank you, everybody, this is my last show. I’m pretty damn old!” Later she speaks a little more about aging: “Nothing great about getting old, it’s terrible, you can’t do what you want, it’s just…but…I always say God put me here for a reason. I don’t know what it is, but he probably does.”

She truly saved the best for last, and in this episode she shares her mother’s recipe for old-fashioned tomato sauce, made from fresh tomatoes, nothing canned. She ends with the words “This is the perfect ending to a perfect show. I love you all, goodbye,” but then we see her welcoming a young child, presumably a great grandchild, and feeding pasta and sauce to a new generation.

This show is shining example of family history. Christopher Cannucciari is capturing and sharing his grandmother’s cooking and her spirit in a way that will help her live on in the lives of her extended family (which thanks to YouTube includes thousands of us. It’s also a lesson in oral history. Many elderly people are not particularly comfortable sitting down and talking about their own lives if you just try to interview them, and they may be much more comfortable doing what Clara’s is doing here, which is sharing a skill in the spirit of helpfulness. Her memories are shared in the context of talking about her family and how her parents managed to keep the family fed during the Depression.

Thanks for the memories, Clara!

3 comments

  • Suzanne Ryan

    Thank you. Thank you. One week ago I came across your website in pursuit of the Maida books. We were writing about our reading lives for Book Club after reading Pat Conroy’s book My Reading Life. You not only supplied me with a complete list of Maida books which I have ordered and continue to receive in the mail each day but hours of childhood memories while reading them. Now I have something to give you in return. Today I searched your children’s lit and family history posts and cae across your piece on Depression Cooking.
    I am a friend of Clara Cannuciari and will be visiting her tomorrow.She is alive and well but no longer able to live in her own home. Clara is indeed one in a million. I cannot stress enough the importance of
    capturing loved ones on tape or film while they are still able to share. It is also a wonderful thing that strangers in other places can know and connect to
    the Clara who is so loved in her own small community. A real tribute to her grandson Chris.

  • Ethna fischetti

    I just found Clara. I have looked at every one of her TV shows. I love her. What spirit.My mother in law also lived in Depression , She madevmost of the recipes that Clara made. Such a beautiful person .So real. Just found out she passed away. I feel like I lost one of my relatives. And Christopher,such a great grandchild. I know he must be so sad. But so lucky to have had her. Loved how she cooked for all your friends. My mother in law would make that for her grandchildren, they loved franks and patatoes.I am sure her recipes, will not stop .Sounds like they will go on forever. I make so manny of them. I am glad I found her. Ethna

  • Brenda Franklin

    hate to know she didn’t get started earlier in these videos. I have thoroughly enjoyed her!!

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