This week's feature story (online Wednesday) takes an in-depth look at the Houston families who developed our diverse food scene into what it is today. We spent hours researching and interviewing family members to compile their stories, but not everything could make it into print. In celebration of these fascinating family histories, we'll be posting on Eating ... Our Words interesting anecdotes and extended quotes that didn't make it into the print edition. We hope you find these folks as fascinating as we did.
Photo courtesy SMU digital library The Carrabba/Patrenella family emigrated from Sicily and arrived in the Port of Galveston around the time this photo was taken, in 1912.
"Johnny Carrabba is my cousin, and I'm his uncle. His grandmother was my dad's sister, and his grandfather was my mom's uncle."
That's how Sammy Patrenella, Sr. of Patrenella's Italian Restaurant attempted to explain his family tree to me. I couldn't figure out how to draw that family tree, and hours of perusing Ancestry.com yielded few results in terms of a Patrenella/Carrabba relationship, but Johnny Carrabba echoed something similar when I spoke to him about his family. Regardless of how, exactly, the two are related, it's clear that Patrenella knows a great deal about his family's story and, by extension, the story of the Carrabba family as well.
The following is a heartwarming tale he told me about his ancestors' (the Carrabbas) journey to America.More »