Charlestown's Diversity & Inclusion Council recently presented a special edition of its "Cooking with Dean" program, which regularly invites the community to enjoy a cooking demonstration with Dean Crawford, Medical Center Practice Administrator.
For the first time, the program featured a Charlestown resident as the guest chef. With two of her three adult sons in the audience, Charlene "Sally" Didomenico took the stage to whip up fresh Italian cannolis from scratch and share a bit of family history.
The recipe that Sally uses to make cannolis is handwritten on a yellowed piece of paper, taken down by Sally herself over the phone from her mother-in-law decades ago. Ever since, Sally has been the keeper of this cherished family recipe. At Charlestown, she's known as "The Cannoli Lady", a title she's happy to bear, although she does say she'd be happy to pass the torch to the next generation, since cannoli-making is so labor intensive.
The crowd, which filled Charlestown's auditorium, got a taste of the work that goes into making the delicious custard-filled treats through Sally's demonstration. But perhaps what was even better was her enlightening, entertaining conversation with Dean, which took the audience on a journey through Italy and Sally's life. She shared stories about meeting and marrying her husband, starting and raising a family with him, going to work and finally, moving to Charlestown.
Of her move to Charlestown, she says, "I thought my life was over, but in fact, it was just beginning." Sally has become a fixture on the Charlestown campus, helping to open and run the on-campus Ladies' Boutique, serving as a dedicated Treasure Sale volunteer and much, much more.
"We are so fortunate that Sally is a part of our community," said Clara Parker, Executive Director at Charlestown. "Her energy and personality light up any room she is in. We're grateful she took this opportunity to share not only her family's cherished recipe, but also her unique story. Sharing our stories helps us all connect more deeply to one another, and that's what this community is all about."