Saturday Morning on Atwells

The warm weather this past Saturday had me feeling festive, so I headed to Federal Hill and spent the morning wandering along Atwells, where the weekend crowd was t-shirted and unrushed, happily browsing in the food shops. I always find it endearing to see people taking their time: I watched one woman try on an oven mitt, another picking up identical packages of vanilla biscuits, turning each one to read the Italian label. 

Everywhere, we were surrounded by chocolate eggs. The size of footballs and wrapped in bright foil, they were dangling from ceilings, crowded onto shelves, set out in the store fronts. Although my mother’s family in Massachusetts is Italian, I had never seen these before (my great grandmother used to give us pastel Jordan almonds wrapped in tulle for Easter), so I bought one to bring to my uncle’s house that evening—it was meant for kids, wrapped in hot pink flowered foil and labeled with a cartoon drawing.

An Italian friend in Rhode Island later explained these are Uova di Pasqua (“a VERY big deal for Italian kids”), but I didn’t know what to expect when I set it on my uncle’s kitchen counter. My cousins peeled away the wrapping and a big chocolate egg tumbled out. We cracked it open: Inside the shell, a tiny pink ball nested in a toy basketball hoop. We broke off chips of chocolate while my cousin tried to score a basket. Then we went on with our plans.

I like traditions, how they find their way to new people and capture our attention for one strangely sweet moment.