I've always had a strong desire to be Italian-American. Italians and Jews are sort of cut from the same cloth, but there is something about the concept of "Sunday dinner" and calling red sauce gravy that really works for me. Eating baked ziti and Italian deli meats all the time doesn't hurt either. That being said, I am fully obsessed with The Sopranos after my sister forced me to watch it this past fall.
I remember growing up on the outskirts of The Sopranos--mainly, I remember the VHS box sets that rested beneath our television and I remember being barricaded out of my parents' room each Sunday night to protect my sister and I's untarnished eyes from curb stomps, gunshots to the head, and mafioso sex with women who aren't the men's mafia wives.
I love any television show that can build such a rich, lush culture and world. It does such a marvelous job at creating this north Jersey Italian-American world, and I, for one, find it intoxicating. This 21 year old girl sometimes dreams of being a 48 year old male mafia leader, my stomach spilling over my pants as I smoke an expensive cigar at the strip club and nurse a neat scotch. It is just as fun, though, to act as the Carmela Soprano and bake a beautiful baked ziti for your family. Ever the world-builder, I constructed a playlist of Italian opera music, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra to float around our dining room as we ate.
I used Smitten Kitchen's ziti recipe, even though I went so far as to buy The Sopranos Family Cookbook for a single penny on Amazon. I'm just not sure it's classy enough for me to actually cook from--I am very elitist when it comes to my cookbooks and I kinda bought it for the novelty of it all. We'll see if I ever crack it open to cook from--or even to use some of fake-Carmela Soprano's entertaining tips.