Never Return a Container Empty

Gina Lorubbio

Copenhagen, Denmark

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Artist's Description

This special piece of food-based wisdom comes from my dad, Carl, who grew up in an Italian American household in immigrant-heavy Youngstown, Ohio.
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What is the most useful piece of food wisdom or advice you have ever received?

Dad: Never return a container empty. If someone is nice enough to share whatever they’ve made with you, then 1) it’s important to give their container back, and 2) you never return it empty. If you get it full, you give it back full. Who knows what nationality or background that person is and what they make at their house. When you return the container with something from your house, it might be a dish they’ve never tried before.

Who gave it to you?

Dad: Both of my grandmothers and my mom all agreed. Somewhere along the line each one mentioned it to me and it stuck.

How does it show up in your life?

Dad: I always follow this rule and return containers with different foods depending on the time of year. If it’s gardening time, I’ll fill it with loose cherry tomatoes or cucumbers. Other times it could be baked pasta. Every year for St. Joseph’s Day, my mom gives out tins of golden raisin cookies to people with “Joseph” in their name. Some people would probably return that container filled with cookies, but that’s not me. I’ll give her back some Brier Hill pizza or pizzelles.

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