We the Italians March 21, 2016 - 77 - Page 57

st # 77 MARCH 21 , 2016 ne. Whereas, if you have short roots, chances are you’ll be toppled by the hurricane”; it is with this understanding that The Italian American Podcast strives to help Italian Americans cultivate those deep roots through the richness of our culture and ancestry, so that we as individuals, and as a people, feel strong, grounded, and whole. Only four months into production, the show is playing a growing role in the Italian-American community. I agreed to join my host, Anthony Fasano, without hesitation when he asked me to co-host The Italian American Podcast. There are times in life when we step into something we feel is cut to fit our frame exactly; this was one of those moments for me. Raised by Italian immigrants who came to New York in the late 1960s, my upbringing was steeped in Southern Italian culture, language, traditions, and codes of conduct. Living my Italian heritage was something I simply absor- bed throughout childhood; it is, and has always been, central to my identity – what I am, who I am, and how I live in this world. In contrast, Anthony’s vision for the podcast originated from his realization, late in his 30s, that he possessed this rich cultural heritage, yet knew very little about it. Anthony began The Italian American Podcast as a heartfelt idea to simply have conversations with his 90-year old grandmother and to record the stories she told him. He wanted to preserve those stories for his own children, nieces, and nephews. This idea expanded to become a high-caliber, large-scale, professionally recorded and produced Internet show that explores and celebrates Italian-American heritage. The two of us together embody and present both sides of the Italian-American experience: Anthony, a third-generation Italian American, seeking to connect with that lineage, and me, a first-generation American, seeking to honor the Italians who raised me and preserve the culture and traditions they raised me with. On our podcast, we interview prominent Italian Americans like Bastianich; bestselling author and filmmaker Adriana Trigiani, author of the blockbuster novel “The Shoemaker’s Wife”; and Mary Tedesco, host of PBS’ “Genealogy Roadshow,” among many others, including an upcoming show with Gay Talese, one of the most prominent names in the literary world. But our show, which airs live on iTunes every other Sunday (an important day for the Italian American!), also features a focus on the ordinary, every day experience of being Italian American. Our Christmas episode, “Sounds of an Italian-American Kitchen at Christmas Time,” captures the love, laughter, and warmth of an Italian-American family preparing for Natale. My mother, aunts, nieces, nephews, as well as Anthony and his