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All four of my grandparents emigrated from Sicily in the early 20th Century. They brought many food traditions with them. One that has endured is the making of the Christmas sausage. The sausage is traditionally made on Thanksgiving weekend, distributed, and frozen. Christmas Eve is when we get our first taste.

The sausage-making ritual used to be presided over by my paternal grandmother. She and her three sons did the job together. They would buy the meat and have it ground at an Italian butcher, get fresh cheese grated, then put it all together by hand in my grandparents’ basement (where there was a full second kitchen), usually the day after Thanksgiving.

Some years 200 pounds of meat was purchased for the sausage.

My favorite memory is the annual critique that accompanies the Christmas Eve meal. One person might find the sausage too spicy; another, too tough. Too much wine, or not enough, ditto for cheese. One year it had been ground differently, sparking debate. Eat, critique, repeat.

And so it’s gone on for as long as I can remember. And so it will, hopefully, for many more years to come.

Aluzzo’s Italian sausage

   17 pounds Pork

   3 pounds Beef

   3 cups Wine

   4 tablespoons Pepper

   4 tablespoons Salt

   2 1/3 cups Cheese

   4 tablespoons fennel seeds or 2 tablespoons ground

   1 ½ cups Italian parsley

-Annette Kingsbury, Michigan