Family of Bakers

  • Thanksgiving For The Bread On Our Table
  • Michael DiCamillo

Thanksgiving For The Bread On Our Table

I have been assured by my Aunt Theresa that it is not just family lore that her father (my grandfather) Tomaso Di Camillo arrived in Niagara Falls, New York on Thanksgiving Day in 1898. It was the end of his journey from the Italian Abruzzi hill town of Villamagana. It seems that dates, feast days, and omens had deep meaning to my grandfather who was, by all accounts, a deeply spiritual man and the founder of our family bakery. The concept of a meal of thanksgiving appealed to him. Its significance was confirmed for him by his arrival on this quintessential America holiday.

My father’s family embraced Thanksgiving Day as if they themselves had invented it. The bakery they ran became, on this day, their private kitchen. Our Scaletta “curly” Italian breads, and Biscotti Di Prato were baked early in the day and then put aside. The bakery ovens, still hot from baking our daily fare, were now in the service of the Di Camillo family’s personal Thanksgiving dinner.

The preparations eventually involved nearly every woman in the family. The men were put into service to load the ovens. What remains most vivid for those of us lucky enough to have been present at these wonderful feasts is the memory, not of the traditional Thanksgiving Day turkey, but a roasted piglet! As the years passed, capons, and then finally turkeys themselves did eventually join the Di Camillo family Thanksgiving menu. However, the main event was always a roasted piglet that our grandfather, grandmother, and their descendants lovingly prepared, and then conveniently roasted in our bakery ovens! Our parents, aunts, and uncles have regaled us with stories of our grandfather even brushing the teeth of the piglet!

This very Di Camillo interpretation of Thanksgiving Day did, in short order, incorporate one dish of the traditional American meal: bread-stuffing. Although it never actually “stuffed” the cavity of the piglet, it was always served separately as a baked, crusty, savory side-dish-- very nearly a bread pudding. Certainly the bakeries day-old Italian Scaletta bread played a part in our families embrace of bread-stuffing. Our Scaletta “curly” Italian Breads were always seen as something precious, and day-old bread was always recycled: either ground for bread crumbs or sliced and toasted and buttered for our Biscotti Di Camillo (“Italian crisp-bread”). Our grandparents were very practical-- yet extravagant—people, and bread-stuffing became an early and central component of their Thanksgiving Day meal.

And as children, we were more interested in this delicious, crusty, savory baked bread-stuffing than in the actual meat course it accompanied!

For years we have offered in our retail stores our twice-cut and twice-baked Scaletta “curly” Italian bread for this essential Thanksgiving course. We know of no better beginning for the preparation of bread-stuffing than our Scaletta “curly” Bread twice-cut and twice-baked.

Our crusty sesame-studded breads make a hearty base for any bread stuffing recipe, and we are happy to share our family bread stuffing recipe with you as well as offer you the opportunity to purchase our bread no matter where you are on Thanksgiving Day, or throughout the year.

  • Michael DiCamillo

Comments on this post (10)

  • Mar 11, 2017

    My Grandfather was Luigi DiCamillo he was from Abruzzi ITALY I live in Wilmington Delaware. My son is Raymond James DiCamillo and My Daughter is Maria DiCamillo, Maybe we are related.???

    — Raymond DIcamillo

  • Dec 25, 2014

    I LOVE Panne Italiano,,but unfortunatly we do not have Italian bakeries here in Florida,,tell me,,Is there any way your bread can be mailed to me ?? maybe it sounds foolish,,but,,I ask anyway,,,I hear your bread is among the BEST,,,Molto Graze,,<<<<<<<<<

    — Tony Razzano

  • Jun 06, 2014

    Yes, that’s right. That’s my email address. Pretty cool huh?

    I’m fairly sure I was told my grandfather accidentally got on the wrong boat (thankfully) bound for Australia, not the United States of Americans.

    Come visit sometime.

    Regards, R. J. Di Camillo

    — Ryan J Di Camillo

  • Mar 24, 2014

    My grandfather, Leo Bax, settled in Niagara Falls from Italy in the late 1800’s. My father moved our family to Florida in 1952.
    My parents searched far and wide to find a loaf of Italian bread like Dicamillo’s in Florida. Every time they went up for a visit they would come home loaded up with your wonderful bread to put in the freezer. Visitors from Niagara Falls always brought Dicamillo’s bread. What a wonderful surprise I got today!!! I came home to a Priority Mail box with several kinds of olive oils, balsamic vinegars, dipping spices, and A LOAF OF DICAMILLO’s BREAD sent to me by one if my generous cousins that lives in Lewiston. I am soooo excited and only wish my parents, Ralph and Hilda Bax were still alive so I could share it with them!

    — Wendy Bax Adams

  • Mar 09, 2014

    I’m going to print out your article and share it with Genevieve DiCamillo (104), my grandmother and the wife of John DiCamillo (Tomaso’s cousin).

    — Laura DiCamillo

  • Feb 14, 2014

    My father emigrated from Sicily. My Aunt would make Scaleta bread and when when we visited she would be using all of her 95 lbs. to punch the dough in a big metal tub and when I arrived she will roll me a doughball as a treat. I am 79 and I still have that vivid memory. Viva Di Camillo for keeping the tradition alive!!!

    — RayPinto

  • Feb 06, 2014

    My mom just arrived in Florida and brought two fresh loves of Italian bread, brought me back home to Niagara falls just smelling that bread, Forza Italia!!!

    — Mark Palacios

  • Jan 29, 2014

    I read your blog and am looking at the pictures and they resemble my father and Anita resembles my sister. Two of my sons were at your bakery and Theresa took them home and fed them. there names are Rickey and Ken. We have enjoyed a lot of your biscotti and cookies. My grandfather came from the same village as you did, his name was Michael DiCamillo. I would like to find out more and love eating your biscotti.

    — Phil DiCamillo

  • Jan 05, 2014

    I am of Sicilian origin and I too love my Italian American Heritage.. Thank you for your fine products and wish your family blessings and peace for 2014.

    — Patricia DeMatteo

  • Nov 21, 2013

    Many thanks for a treasured reminder of my Italian American heritage. I have lived in the south for most of my adult life and have learned that the love, strength and courage of our ancestors are without compare.

    To each and everyone I wish blesssings and peace.

    — Joyce Nacca

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