From the Historian: ‘Treasured Italian Recipes’ a Rotary legacy

Anita Mance

The history of a community is often written about dates, events, famous historic sites and founding fathers. The legacy of a community involves the people we see every day who are a part of our lives. 

Miele Calabrese Battaglini loved cooking. In 1988, she began collecting recipes from friends and relatives in an effort to preserve her culinary heritage. With the help of her husband, George, sister Anna and friend Frank Platino, Miele spent 10 months collecting, sorting and clarifying recipes submitted by the children and grandchildren of East Rochester pioneer Italian families. Only traditional recipes were selected. In the end, recipes of more than 100 different authors became a cookbook called “Treasured Italian Recipes” with Miele dedicating the book to her mother, Miele Eugenia Calabrese. Debby Parrotta designed the cover with the Italian flag. David Parrotta produced photos of several Italian matriarchs for chapter introductions. They were Mary A. Platino, Rose Parrotta, Julia Corea, Adelia Naccarrella, Saveria Scalise, Lena Napoli and Mary Barbero. 

Miele next chose the Rotary as the organization to help with the book’s publication. The ER Rotary received its charter in 1926 with 24 members and has remained an active organization in ER. With its motto, “service above self,” the club was a perfect fit for the role. And so, the East Rochester Rotary took on the responsibility for financing the publication and handling the distribution. Funds raised would go to help support various Rotary causes such as Camp Haccamo, the East Rochester Community Resource Center, Nazareth College’s special education clinic and a blood bank in India.  

Volumes 1 and 2 of “Treasured Italian Recipes” cookbooks.

The first printing of the cookbook was August 1989. Within two days of its release, 1,000 copies had been sold. More printings were made. During the first two years, over 4,000 books were purchased. Miele continued to collect recipes and in 1996, a second cookbook, “Treasured Italian Recipes: Book II,” was published. Once again, Debby Parrotta created the cover and David Parrotta took photos of several Italian matriarchs, this time photographing Irene Quinzi, Della and husband, Natale Verni, Anna Piscini, Grace Saltrelli, Maria Tortorici and Rita Chinelli. This cookbook also sold out.  

The cookbooks have remained very popular. Recently, Rotary ordered 1,500 more copies of the books. To date, about 1,000 have been sold. The cost is $15 for each title or $25 for the set.  Both titles can also be borrowed at the East Rochester Public Library and copies are able to be viewed at our Department of Local History. And so, second and third generations of families and friends continue to enjoy the recipes and history of the Italian legacy in our community. 

Anita Mance serves as historian for the town/village of East Rochester.