A toast to Italian culture

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Scores of well-wishers and a handful of Italian-speaking Oak Parkers showed up on Wednesday, May 29 for an exhibit at McDuffie Design Center, co-sponsored by the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce and Italidea/Italicultura — the cultural and language branches of the Italian government here in Chicago area.

The center is located at Franklin and Huron in the trendy River North area. It showcases a modernist "kitchen collection" — geometric furniture with clean lines that doubles as functional art. Here, work areas are encased in monolithic structures that reveal nothing of their essence. The eye is free to glide across the smooth surfaces and admire this new mood for livable kitchens.

The swank digs with bleached-white backgrounds featured 6-foot models in bridal gowns and exquisite cuisine from Sicily, Calabria and Puglia — three regions where many area residents have roots. Among the Oak Parkers were: Ken Pagni, a graphic designer; artist-illustrator Nick Sinadiros; University of Scranton's Jordan (Giordano) West, a fluent speaker, who in September begins his junior year abroad at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Milan; and yours truly, his proud dad who still struggles with Italian verb tenses even after my three semesters of language instruction at Triton College.

The host was Stefano Graziotti, head of the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce, located at 500 N. Michigan Ave., the same building that houses the Consulate and Italidea/Italcultura. Graziotti took Oak Parkers on a guided tour and praised the Oak Park interest in Italian culture and commerce. The standing-room-only affair featured movers and shakers in the political, business and artistic centers of the community.

In sum, it was a toast to its richness and diversity.

Stan and Jordan West
Oak Park

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