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My Story of Pasta Fazool

In Family, fatherhood, Food, health, Italian, parenting, Summer for Renewal, Uncategorized on August 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm


Pasta Fazool aka Pasta e Fagioli — This is My Story


Pasta e Fagioli is one of those dishes in my family that popped up every now and then — and everyone loves it. Later in life I was given more insight into this simple Italian meal from my Grandmother, Phyllis. If I hadn’t lived with my grandmother for a while in college, I might never have heard some of these stories about our family, our heritage, our Pasta e Fagioli. When I was accepted into college my family didn’t have a lot of disposable income to support me 100% — so, I made some tough decisions to make college more affordable. First decision was to attend a regional campus of UConn to save some money.  Commuting to the Hartford regional campus would allow me to live at home and pay a fraction of the cost of tuition/fees compared to the main campus. By the time the first day of classes rolled around I unfortunately no longer had a working car. Just getting to the campus every day was a challenge. I did various things to get back and forth and for part of that time I lived with my grandmother. My grandmother lived in the south-end of Hartford and the UConn Hartford campus was on the west-side of Hartford — actually in West Hartford. I soon became a city kid and got comfortable taking the bus everywhere.

My new home was in one of the oldest Italian neighborhoods in Connecticut. Franklin Avenue is a well-known center of the Little Italy of Hartford — and I live right on Franklin Avenue in an apartment with my grandmother. The street level of her building was one of the best Italian grocery stores on Franklin Avenue and directly across the street from one of the best Italian bakeries in the city. It was a very walk-able neighborhood — everything you needed was within walking distance and downtown Hartford was only a 20 minute bus ride away. My grandmother did not drive or own a car either but never struggled getting by on Franklin Avenue. At this point in her life my grandmother was retired but still very busy. I soon realized that during the day through early evening she had a definitive routine.

My grandmother’s routine was driven by “her shows.” Her first soap opera came on at 11 a.m. so everything had to be done by then. She got up and made breakfast. One of my favorites was French toast made with Italian bread. She often ate hers with salt and pepper — not maple syrup. Once breakfast was done, my grandmother planned the menu for the day and then went shopping for fresh bread and everything else she needed for lunch and dinner. She enjoy really fresh food, so she shopped every day at the small grocery store downstairs, the bigger grocery store a block away, and one of the several bakeries on Franklin Avenue. Her options of places to shop increased on Wednesdays because she walked a couple of blocks up Bond Street to attend early morning mass at St. Augustine’s. My grandmother worked very hard all morning planning the meal, shopping, tidying up the apartment, and making lunch. Her ultimate goal was to be settled in her chair in the TV room with her lunch ready to eat at exactly 11 a.m. when her first soap opera started. The dinner she planned would be pretty traditional with an Italian flair but lunch was consistent — a sandwich and a side dish. My grandmother used fresh Italian bread, fresh deli meat, and fresh cheese usually provolone. She then prepared a hot side dish. Although for most this would be just another lunch — but to my grandmother it was an inspired work of art made with love. The sandwich was toasted or grilled and was a masterpiece.  The side dish could be almost anything like a simple soup (chicken noodle, turkey rice, split pea & ham, minestrone), vegetables (ratatouille or grilled vegetables like peppers, onions, squash, zucchini), pasta (risotto, pastina), or creamy polenta with grated cheese and/or tomato sauce. I learned a great deal about cooking and planning meals during these times. My grandmother shared little tricks and techniques and soon I knew how to turn a good sandwich into a great sandwich.

Most of the time, my grandmother was so focused on getting settled for her soap opera TV show, that there wasn’t much time for chatting. But I learned that if I listened carefully, I could learn a lot. She not only taught me about food but also would tell me the story behind the food. One of my favorite stories is how this is the food that the poor people at in Italy. Most of the ingredients of her side dishes were inexpensive, grown in the garden or from left-overs from dinner. As I mentioned in another blog, we rarely went out to eat at an Italian restaurant because they served we could make better, fresher and much less expensively — for pennies. As Italian chain restaurants started to pop up and become popular it amazed my grandmother that they offered and charged a lot for Italian “peasant” dishes like polenta, pastina, risotto, Pasta e Fagioli, and even pizza with homemade pizza dough.

Another story was about Pasta e Fagioli. Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate poor-family meal. Among her friends when she was a kid, Pasta e Fagioli was made at the end of the week with the left overs from the entire week. Pasta e Fagioli literally translates into “pasta and beans.” So technically any soup that includes pasta and beans can be called Pasta e Fagioli. It is a delicious, hearty meal that you could make with everything you had on hand. Pasta e Fagioli can include meat but it can also be a vegetarian meal. Now you have to be careful with old time Italians because even though it was served vegetarian most of the time in my family — the flavor in the broth came from pork. A hunk of salt pork, some bacon fat or a ham bone was often used to add flavor. Salt pork or bacon fat was used when sautéing the onions and celery and if you had a ham bone on hand you would include it with the water or broth when you begin simmering the soup.  You then add the first of the two main ingredients — the beans. It can honestly be any bean you like but in my family it was typically kidney, chick peas, canteloni beans or some combination of the three. After an hour or so of simmering, remove the hunk of pork and ham bone and add beans and pasta. My favorite is a mini tube pasta called ditellini. Others in my family prefer a bow-tie pasta. I think you get the idea — frugal families would take all of their leftovers for the week (including hunks of salt pork and bones), add rough-cut vegetables, onions, celery, garlic, broth/water and the magic ingredients — pasta and beans.

Pablo’s Pasta e Fagioli Recipe – click photo

The best part about Pasta e Fagioli is it is the ultimate Italian food for the soul. There is nothing more comforting that a hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli with grated parmagiana, crushed red peppers, and a slice of crusty Italian bread. So it is not surprising that most Italian restaurants offer Pasta e Fagioli; and it is one of the best things to bring to a carry-in or potluck. And when you want to show your friends that you care about them during tough times or times of joy, nothing says you care more than sending a big pot of Pasta e Fagioli. You’re not only sharing a meal but you are sharing your heritage and a family tradition.

Another quite humorous part of this meal is the pronunciation itself. When I was growing up we ate something called “Pasta Fazool.” Everyone in our family called it Pasta Fazool; our friends called it Pasta Fazool; you could order Pasta Fazool in a restaurant on Franklin Avenue and get what you wanted without the server giving you a strange look. Basically there was no reason for me to question the proper pronunciation of Pasta e Fagioli. It wasn’t until the coordinator of the potluck lunch at work asked me for the recipe of my Pasta Fazool that I actually saw how it was spelled. And then the first time someone ordered it at the chain Italian restaurant, the well trained server of the fake Italian restaurant gave us a funny look and corrected our pronunciation — which by the way wasn’t correct either. I again denied our family mispronounced Pasta e Fagioli because we also didn’t pronounce other foods phonetically — like lasagna, manicotti, mozzarella, or ricotta. I later discovered that the pronunciation, Pasta Fazool, is unique to the American-Italian community in the Northeast. So I now proudly say Pasta FAZOOL!

Our Pasta e Fagioli is vegetarian (often vegan) and a healthy, high protein, low fat meal. Today, I share this story and meal with my family — the next generation. The most wonderful part of this meal are the memories of my grandmother and our time together. The cook that I have become is in large part to my grandmother. She was a creative and confident chef. She loved making meals special and loved sharing meals with others. As a tribute to her and all of the other great cooks in my family, I am committed to not only sharing these meals with my kids but also keeping the stories alive. My grandmother would be very pleased that I have kept many of her traditions alive and I am still sharing her stories and our memories.


Buon Appetito!


If you want my recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, click here.


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:

 


Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


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Pablo’s Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

In Family, fatherhood, Food, Italian, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Summer for Renewal, Tradition, Uncategorized on August 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

This is one from my grandmother’s kitchen. It is a recipe from the old country — true Italian comfort food. Pasta e Fagioli can be found on the menu of many of the best Italian restaurants around — but the dish was a peasant dish served by frugal families. My grandmother’s version used salt pork or a ham bone for flavoring. My version is vegetarian (often vegan), high protein, and low fat. Pasta e Fagioli is a special treat for my family — and I hope it becomes that for you. For the whole story of my family’s Pasta e Fagioli tradition, READ the PC Pop Blog post: My Pasta Fazool Story (aka Pasta e Fagioli).


Pablo’s Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

Serves: 10-12


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups – onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups – celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves – garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups (2 cans) – kidney bean (light and dark red)
  • 2 cans (28 oz.) – crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) – diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tbs. – olive oil
  • 2-4 tbs. – dried or freshly chopped parsley
  • onion powder/garlic powder, to taste
  • 28 oz. – water or broth
  • 1 cup – pasta (ditalini)
  • grated cheese
  • crushed red pepper
  • crusty Italian bread

 

 


In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and onions. Saute onions stirring often until they begin to look translucent – about 2-3 minutes; then add garlic and celery. Continue to stir occasionally over medium heat for about 5 minutes (be careful not to burn onions or garlic). Optional – add other chopped vegetables.

Add kidney beans, parsley, onion powder and garlic powder – and combine ingredients by tossing well. Add crushed tomatoes and stewed tomatoes. Fill each empty tomato-can half-full with water or broth (approximately 28 oz. total) to get remaining tomatoes — add to the pan. Bring soup to a boil carefully; then reduce heat and simmer for 20-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For al dente pasta, 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, carefully bring the soup to boil. Then add the pasta, bring to boil again, cover and turn off heat. Let stand, covered for 20-30 minutes. Stir and serve with grated cheese, crushed red pepper, and crusty Italian bread. Fresh green salad with oil/vinegar or Italian dressing is a perfect accompaniment.


Buon Appetito!



This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:


Family TV-Food Road Trip

In Food, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Pop Culture, Summer for Renewal, TV, TV shows, Uncategorized on August 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm


Food — Travel — Family; the combination defines me. So when we were deciding what to do this summer, our Summer for Renewal, we knew it had to include all three. All of my family is in Connecticut (and a bit of New Jersey) and to fit the budget of a family of four, we drive. Travelling by car from Indiana to Connecticut is a drive into which you must put some thought. I guess you can just get in the car and go; but when you have two kids, you should think a little bit about getting there without killing each other. The more you plan, the easier the Road Trip part of your vacation will be. After all the drive to your destination is not really your vacation; so, if the trip is a disaster it could potentially ruin the “actual” vacation. Regardless the Road Trip is a part of the overall experience — a part of the family vacation memories that will last a lifetime (good or bad). The most recent strategy we tried actually worked — for us, that is. We are big fans of any TV shows about Food, Cooking and Restaurants. We find ourselves watching hours and hours food related TV on the Food Network, Cooking Channel, PBS, TLC, OWN, and Travel Channel.



Some of our favorites TV Food Shows are as follows:


I even watch PBS’s Check, Please! which features review of Chicago restaurants and classic Julia Childs’ cooking and baking shows. And lucky for us there are new shows popping up each day like the latest — All You Can Meat and Invention Hunters.


“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

– James Michener


Actually searching out restaurants all along our 1600 mile round-trip, Road Trip to the east coast from the mid-west is a first for us. In the past we have searched the internet before we go on vacation to a new city to find out where Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Adam Richman or Guy Fieri had been in that city, and it wasn’t easy. Today thanks to two guys from New York who love Foodie TV as much as we do, the process of finding restaurants featured on most national TV programs is much easier.  These two guys created a website that is such a great idea and so easy to use — you wish you had thought of it first. TV Food Maps is their website which allows you to search for restaurants featured on TV by location, type of food and/or TV show. And if that weren’t easy enough, they launched a mobile app in its second version. There are other sites and blogs about Food TV but this is my favorite; again, because it works for me.


“The air you smell, the sights you see, the food you taste, the language you hear, and the feeling you get…nothing familiar. That is true freedom.”

~ Anonymous


Whenever we take a car trip that is focused mostly on family, we make a deal with our kids. The deal is we will try to see something interesting on the way there and on the way back. For the past few Road Trips eastward, we have spent a day in New York City because we are so much in love with this city. On the way back to home to Indiana we pick a different city each time and go exploring for a day or two.  The last two trips (this one and the Road Trip this past January), we have stopped in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, respectively. On this particular Road Trip we also managed to spend a good part of a day in Hoboken, New Jersey – birthplace of Frank Sinatra and Buddy Valastro — the Cake Boss.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain


Now, I don’t want you to think that all we do is eat — our Road Trips also include fun, history and culture. For instance  in New York City between lunch at John’s Pizzeria (of Bleeker Street), a sweet treat from Dylan’s Candy Bar  and dessert in Little Italy at Ferrara Bakery, we have visited all of our favorite places in the Big Apple including the Statue of Liberty, Belvedere Castle in Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Whitney Museum, and South Street Seaport; to name a few. Getting our kids excited about touring a new city or taking a 15 hour Road Trip to see family is a challenge. But when you can tie the trip to pop culture it sure does help — like visiting the Abby Lee Dance Company (home of Lifetime’s Dance Moms) while in Pittsburgh. In New York City finding pop culture references is a bit easier. Walking through the Central Park Zoo and finding some of the animals from the movie Madagascar or exploring the American Museum of Natural History and looking for exhibits featured in the movie Night at the Museum have also been strategies for us. Now we add getting a corned-beef sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen which was recently featured on the Travel Network and also is famous for a scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally — which we will consider discussing with our kids when they are much older, if you get my drift.


“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

– Henry Miller


For our family Road Trips and hectic sight-seeing days in new cities are now a bit more enjoyable. Following the food just adds another dimension giving us something to do together, a new memory to create, and another page in the photo album and scrapbook. We can’t wait to try this out on our next Road Trip south to the in-law’s home and west to my brother-in-law’s. As long as there’s a PBS, Food Network or Travel Channel — there will be funky restaurants to explore and unique foods to eat. If you want to see the lists of restaurants we have explored on our various Road Trips, check out my posts featuring the restaurants’ names and locations as well as reviews of our visits (coming very soon). And next time you head out on a Road Trip with your family — consider making it an official Family TV-Show Road Trip.


Happy Trails — and Buon Appetito!


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:


Mia Famiglia

In Family, Food, Italian, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Summer for Renewal, Tradition, Uncategorized on July 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

What I did on My Summer Vacation: Rediscovered My Family through Food, Kids and Tattoos


The family was an art…and the dinner table was the place it found expression. 

Don DeLillo, Underworld


Coco

Coco

This summer we drove 850 miles to be with our family in the homestead. My childhood home was the center of our family gatherings and holidays for many years. Now it is just my mom and her dog, Coco. Although I have kids of my own now and everyone is 30 years older; we were able to recapture the magic of our weekly Sunday family get-togethers again.

From the turn of the century through 1935, many Italians migrated to the United States of America — including my family. On my father’s side, my grandfather and grandmother’s parents were born in Italy. On my mother’s side, all of my great-grandparents were born in Italy. Although my father only had one brother,  my mother’s family was quite large. I grew up attending weekly Sunday family gatherings and became very close with my aunts (not pronounced “ant”), uncles and cousins. We met every Sunday at my maternal grandparents with the rest of the clan numbering 15-20 relatives. When my grandfather passed away, my mother, the eldest of her siblings, was asked by my grandmother to host the weekly get-together. It made sense because we had a home with a large backyard, in-ground pool, and enough room to seat everyone (albeit tight) for dinner. So, in the early-1970’s, my family began hosting. Like many family traditions, we were going strong until the kids started growing up and eventually having their own kids, families, in-laws, other cousins, etc.

On a recent visit to the family homestead (we now live 850 miles away), we were able to re-create the magic of those American-Italian family gatherings — and it sort of happened spontaneously. We let everyone know we were coming in advance, and many family members generously shared their days-0ff and vacation days with us. Family was coming together like old times. It was a welcome and wonderful treat. We caught up on everything going on with everyone, but honestly we spent most of our time reminiscing about old times. One surprise was how many of my family had tattoos. My sister, her son/my nephew and two of my first cousins had tattoos. Perhaps I noticed them this visit is because it was summer, and we were swimming and at the beach. It struck me that all of the tattoos had something to do with family. My sister has a tattoo of my nephew as an infant and another memorializing my father. My female first cousin had, in script, on her foot, perfectly aligned with the curve of her left flip-flop, simply, “la famaglia.” I thought nothing of it at the time — I was just surprise that they all had tattoos.

Part of the fun was also telling our family stories to the newest generation, aged 4 to 14. It was wonderful how curious the kids were, and amazing how vivid and similar all of our stories were. We also were fortunate enough to hear stories from a few of our great aunts two of whom are 90 and 92 year old sisters. What a hoot. Our shared experiences brought us closer and closer as a family in just a few short hours. As a family we have been lucky. Yes, we have had our losses, our tragedies, but all in all, we had a closeness that others have envied. over the years, we have also created  many traditions that focus on family and also honor our heritage. The constant with any gathering, holiday or family tradition was the FOOD. Preparing a meal together and eating as one big family as always been central to all of our get-togethers. And if your birthday fell the week of the Sunday family gathering, there was a home-baked cake in your honor. Birthdays were about family. Today we plan our kids’ birthdays  at the movie theater, nail salon, country-club pool — with lots of their friends. My birthdays through the years were with family — and I loved it. On this visit we even had an old fashioned birthday celebration for my son (see photo above).


So here’s the story we told our kids recently. The meal for Sundays was always the same. Homemade marinara sauce (not gravy), homemade meatballs, Italian sausage, and pasta (which we called macaroni). Typically the pasta was rigatoni but occasionally we would get crazy and have penne or ziti — but never spaghetti. My mother (my grandfather pre-early-1970’s) would get up at 5 a.m. to begin making the sauce and meatballs because the sauce needed to simmer for 4-6 hours. A big tossed salad was also a part of the meal prepared with olive oil and red wine vinegar and various Italian herbs. Whoever was closest to the Italian bakery was responsible for bringing the Italian bread. It is a meal to die for. An old fashion Italian feast.

The family would begin arriving at 11 a.m. and munch on whatever antipasto that was prepared or carried-in. Swimming began right away and the ball game of the day was put on the TV downstairs (usually either New York Giants or Yankees, depending on the season). Vegetables for the salad were prepared by 1 p.m.; at 1 p.m. meatballs were put in the sauce to simmer for an hour; at 1:15 p.m. the water was put on the stove to boil; and once this enourmous pot of water was at a raging boil, 4-5 pounds of pasta were dumped in to cook. Then the kitchen was cleaned, the Italian bread was cut and buttered, the salad was dressed and tossed, and the sinked was scoured in preparation for draining the (al dente) pasta. Around 2 p.m., my mother would be making plates for everyone and we would eat. She knew exactly what everyone wanted whether it was both meatball and sausage, no meat, extra sauce, light on sauce, etc. For a few minutes it was chaotic until everyone was seated and eating.  Once everyone finished grabbing bread, adding parmesan cheese and/or hot crushed red pepper, it was silent, for a moment, for the first time all day. Once everyone finished their pasta, the salad was served typically in your pasta plate. One or two ate their salad with their pasta but most ate their salad after their meal. (Italians believe it helps settle your stomach after a big meal.)

After Sunday dinner, there was more swimming and potentially a softball game in the front yard. When the sun started to go down, we would go indoors and play Setback (cards) or backgammon. My maternal grandmother was very serious about her card game. Usually by this time everyone would begin getting hungry again, and we would started making sandwiches.  If there was a birthday or anniversary to celebrate this was also the time to bring out the cake and coffee.  Speaking of coffee, there was hot coffee available all day and all night long.


During our recent Summer visit, once the meal was served, all of our wonderful memories of our family through the years came flooding back. The special Italian feast is the one thing that we share as a family.  My maternal grandfather would tell you that at the turn of the century, Italian immigrants had to be frugal.  The food we ate was the food of the peasant in Italy. It was absurd to even think of going out to eat for Italian food. First, we made the food better, more authentic with fresh ingredients; second, our grandparents and parents refused to pay for a meal that they could make for pennies.  We also never used “jarred” sauce. To this day, I feel funny about going out for Italian food or buying sauce in a jar. Not only do I have family memories about food but also specific foods for specific holidays, events, and seasons. Some of these food memories are as follows: chili dogs and homemade ice cream on July 4th; stuffed breads, baked ziti, and lasagna for special occasions like showers, bachelor parties, Christenings; fried dough with powdered sugar for holiday breakfasts; for events that need really special desserts – cannoli, rum cream cake,  pasticiotti, New York cheesecake; for family events like birthday parties – homemade pizza; for special Sunday gatherings – gnocchi or cavatelli; linguine with clam sauce on Christmas Eve; lentil soup on New Year’s Eve; and pasta e fagioli, for some reason, I remember it as the perfect food for the reception after funerals.


If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

Bernard Shaw, preface, Immaturity


We are all getting older and wiser, and during this visit we all realized that nothing is more important than family. No matter what drama we have dealt with in the past and regardless of what issues we are dealing with today, family members love you and accept you and make it right. As a family we are not perfect, but this recent visit was filled with so many wonderful memories. More importantly we have shared our stories, history and traditions with a new generation. We laughed loudly, we hugged, we danced, we swam, we took lots of pictures, we chill-axed, we ate. Our Family connections are stronger than ever. We were able to be ourselves, we were comfortable and content, and it was easy and natural. This is the beginning of a new era. And we are committed to keeping this family together and continuing to create new memories while honoring our Italian and American heritage and our established traditions.

And I can’t help but thing of those TATTOOS — especially “la famiglia.” How profound, yet simple – and perhaps this one word, in Italian, was inscribed permanently on my cousin’s foot not by accident but rather with focused intention. I am convinced in our own silent ways, we all wanted this; and we made it happen. Thank God.


Benedici la Mia Famiglia!


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:


 

Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


Cadbury Creme Egg – Personality Test

In Cadbury, Candy, Carl Jung, Creme Egg, Easter, Food, Leadership, life, Malavenda, MBTI, personality, True Colors, Uncategorized on April 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Cadbury Creme Egg


Cadbury Creme Eggs may hold the secret for putting together the most dynamic team and getting the most out of your team members.


Soon after Easter, we inevitably try to figure out what to do with all of our Easter candy. After a great deal of research (eating Easter candy, that is), I have discovered several ways to eat a Cadbury Creme Egg – and realized that the secret for great team-oriented leadership lie in the variety of eating methods.  More importantly than “how” one eats the Cadbury Creme EggCadbury Creme Egg is how one “approaches” or thinks about eating it.  For some, very little thought is put into how, but for others it is an extremely well planned out affair. For some it must be orderly, yet others enjoy a bit of spontaneity and messiness. Of course if you love candy, you are able to eat the Cadbury Creme Egg in any of the various ways. What the leader must observe though is others’ “preferred” method of eating.  When given a choice, there is bound to be an eating method one prefers to use which gives the most joy. This is the eating method that will give the leader a glimpse into each member’s personality and behavior.  The leader will then be able to assemble any team or group with diversity including different eating-style-individuals within each group. Inclusiveness is an important aspect of leadership (Komives, 2007).  When leaders include diversity of personalities and behavioral approaches, their teams will be creative, productive and filled with positive interactions among members.  In order to accomplish this leaders must first know their team members.  The Cadbury Creme Egg Personality Test will also assist the team members in understanding and appreciating each other as well as themselves within their organizations. Using the 3 Steps of assembling a team according the Cadbury Creme Egg Personality Test, the leader must Identify, Observe and Assign.


3 Steps – Cadbury Creme Egg – Personality Test


  1. Identify the “ways people eat” a Cadbury Creme Egg
  2. Observe your team members eating Cadbury Creme Eggs
  3. Assign members to teams and projects based on how they eat their Cadbury Creme Eggs

Some of the Eating Methods I have discovered through my research (eating lots of candy) and the characteristics associated with each method are as follows:


Cadbury Creme Egg – Eating Methods


  • Center First— Bite off the tip of the egg and eat the creme filling and yolk first either by scooping it out (with their fingers or spoon, edible or not) saving the chocolate shell for last. These individuals want to see the creme filling and yolk because they are curious and seeking.  They approach this task in a complex, philosophical way pondering the manufacturing process and the Cadbury Creme Eggsinventive people who created this wonderful Easter treat.  They are principled and rational but not overly obsessed with being neat and orderly.  They enjoy opening the egg up, marveling at the creme center and yolk, eating the center first, and lastly enjoying the chocolate shell.

  • Big Bites — Bite the egg straight through eating it in one or two big bites combining the chocolate shell and the creme filling and yolk in each bite. These individuals pride themselves in being straightforward, realistic and active.  They don’t see any point in wasting valuable time being philosophical or neat or methodical.  They came to eat a Cadbury Creme Egg and that is what they will do.  Their method is daring, unpredictable, and risky, but they are up for the challenge.  They are generally realistic, opportunistic, adventuresome and spontaneous — so, don’t be surprised if they eat more than one, change their method often, and eat your egg, too.

  • Orderly — Split the egg length-wise in two pieces along the crease, open carefully (like a surgeon), enjoy how perfect the yoke is, and take small bites. As soon as they get their Cadbury Creme Egg they get a bit anxious.  They are anxious because they have a specific method and are worried that something might go wrong.  They are organized, orderly and conventional, approaching the task carefully. They are only relieved when the split along the crease is done and the egg opens into two equal-sized pieces with clean edges.  They’re in no rush because it only happens once a year and they realize how special this experience is — it is a tradition to which they are loyal. They marvel at the perfection of the filling and the yolk.  They then eat each half savoring every moment of the taste, feeling, and experience. They feel a sense of responsibility to the procedure of eating the Cadbury Creme Egg in the only acceptable manner — theirs.

  • Social— For this person it is more important to share the experience rather than be concerned about a particular method for Cadbury Creme Eggthemselves.  This is a unique and warm person who gathers friends, shares their Cadbury Creme Eggs and loves to observe how others eat them.  They are communicative; and therefore, they love hearing others’ Cadbury Creme Egg stories and memories. Their eating method will not outshine that of others or interfere with what’s more in line with their values — relationships and friendships. They are compassionate, supportive and authentic.  They view this as a means to create and maintain harmonious relationships by eating Cadbury Creme Eggs as a social experience.  Sharing is a must. They will describe the experience as inspirational and might even wrote a poem about it.

  • Extreme Eating Methods: Freeze It or Smash It.
    • Freeze it takes the commitment and patience of planning ahead and waiting almost an entire day for the egg to freeze completely. A frozen Cadbury Creme Egg when split maintains its yolk and is even more marvelous to see.  Regardless of your eating method, you would enjoy a frozen Cadbury Creme Egg, but it takes a special person to plan ahead and put them in the freezer, and wait.
    • Smash It is a high risk method. They may or may not even unwrap the Cadbury Creme Egg, and they crush it between two fingers.  They then dig in eating it as quickly as they need to without losing any. These daredevils are not concerned about getting a bit messy but the experience will be thrilling, attention-getting, and potentially hazardous.

Now that you have identified the Eating Methods (and characteristics) you may use a number of different ways to observe your Cadbury Creme Eggsteam member’s preferred-eating-method.  I would suggest distributing the Cadbury Creme Eggs to each individual in a large group setting with little direction.  Make sure you have a few people observing and taking note of how each person unwraps and eats their eggs.  After they have enjoyed their eggs, let them know what’s up.  Hand out the descriptions if you wish and allow individuals to get into small groups based on their eating method.  Allow each group to discuss what they have in common and how this explains their unique behavior in and value they bring to groups.

The final step is to put together diverse team which include one person from each of the eating method categories.  Explain to the teams that you expect there to be a healthy amount of conflict in the process of the group becoming a highly functioning team.  As the leader you should assist them in their group dynamics process of forming, storming, norming and performing; but otherwise step back and watch the magic happen (Tuckman, 1977).

You will become a Cadbury Creme Egg Personality Test believer.  You will know through this experience that Cadbury Creme Eggs indeed do hold the secret for putting together the most dynamic groups and getting the most out of your team members. What a delicious way to take your team to the next level.


References and acknowledgments:

Carl JungCarl Jung’s Psychological Types, True Colors™ Personality Assessment, Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, Bruce Tuckman’s Group Development Model, and Exploring Leadership (Komives, Lucas, McMahon)  were used in developing the Cadbury Creme Egg Personality Test.


Quick Facts from Cadbury Website:

  • 53% of people bite off the top, lick out the ‘creme’ then eat the chocolate
  • 20% just bite straight throughCadbury Creme Egg
  • 16% use their finger to scoop out the ‘creme’
  • How people unwrap their eggs can also reflect their Creme Egg eating style, we have…
    • Delicate Peelers – To achieve a considered, methodical & subtle eat
    • Stage Peelers – Who unwrap just enough to keep the ‘creme’ off their fingers
    • Quick Discarders – Who rip off the foil as they just can’t wait to eat their Creme Egg