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      Italian Style Chicken Supper for All!

      Jul. 24, 2013

      What is so special about the weeklong series of events at the Annual Seaside Daze Festival that celebrate the history and the people of Dominion, Nova Scotia? But the Italian Style Chicken Supper, of course! Run by the members of the Dominion Italian Community Club and the Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Italian Style Chicken Supper, served twice during Seaside Daze, is the emblem of the Italian community of Dominion. Tickets are sold out well in advance of the event and people flock to the Hall an hour early to get a good seat.

      The Italian community of Dominion formed during the 1920s when many Italians, coming in particular from the province of Treviso, in Northern Italy, immigrated to Canada settling in Dominion and the surrounding small towns that dotted the Atlantic Coast to work in the coalmines.

      What they left behind was a life full of hardship, hunger and hard work. Working the land was not enough to sustain the traditionally large farming families and Canada was full of opportunities. Not every immigrant planned to stay. Some just wanted to save enough money and go back; others never got accustomed to the life in the Canada; some others instead embraced the Canadian life style, settled and prospered. All of them though missed the life they once had in Italy. They mostly missed its social and cultural aspects. And so in order to have a place where they could meet and socialize, they decided to build a hall in the heart of Dominion. La Sala Italiana was financed and erected by the members of the Italian community in 1936.

      La Sala Italiana is still standing today and represents the focal point of the activities organized by the members of the Italian community. I had the privilege and fortune of visiting la Sala and meeting the descendants of the first Italian settlers for the first time in the winter of 2009. That day I was excited and worried at the same time. As a fieldwork researcher, it is not always easy to approach people and ask them to share their life memories and stories with you. My concerns disappeared as soon as I walked into la Sala with my good friends Connie and John and was welcomed by Leo. I felt an immediate connection with the building and with the individuals I met that evening. Perhaps it was because their ancestors came from the same area in Italy I am from, perhaps it was because when they talked to me about their lives in Dominion I could hear my grandparents speak, perhaps it was because the food on the table made me feel like I never left Italy. Since that day in 2009, I visited the community as often as I could and I attended the Italian Style Chicken Supper a few times, first as a guest and then as a helper.

      This supper is a way for both Clubs to raise money for la Sala. It is not prepared exclusively during Seaside Daze, but it is catered on requests for special events, such as weddings. In fact, many of the members of both Clubs have celebrated their own wedding reception at the Hall where their guests were served this delicious meal. As the name itself suggest, the dinner consists of roasted chicken, served with coleslaw, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. The chicken is seasoned and roasted to perfection: crispy on the outside, its crunchy skin full of spices and herbs, and juicy on the inside. The mashed potatoes are prepared following a secret recipe that is passed on from one member to the next and the gravy instead of being poured on top of the steaming mash is incorporated into the potatoes during the secret mashing process. They are mouthwatering! Preparing this supper is quite the task, especially if you have to serve about 200 people, but both Clubs are extremely organized, everyone having his/her role. The evening goes smoothly and everyone has a really good time. There is food, there are drinks, there is music, people are brought together… it is definitely a good time!

      The Italian Style Chicken Supper represents a genius development and adjustment that meet the eating habits and expectations of Canadians. Italian meals, especially the ones organized to celebrate important events, can be quite elaborate and lengthy, lasting even hours, with dishes interspersed with breaks where guests leave the table and go for short walks to make room for more food. In North America, different dishes are usually served in one sitting and piled up on one single plate. This makes the meal nice and short. This is what the Clubs of la Sala Italiana has decided to do.

      Year after year the Italian Style Chicken Supper has increased in popularity attracting people from all over Cape Breton. It is a specialty of the Italian community of Dominion and you can’t find it anywhere else.

      So, if you ever are in Cape Breton during Seaside Daze and want to experience this meal and want to meet genuinely friendly people who make you feel right at home, think about dropping by in Dominion. But make sure to buy your tickets well in advance!

      The 32nd Annual Seaside Daze Festival runs until Sunday, July 28, 2013. For event details, please visit

      One Response to “Italian Style Chicken Supper for All!”

      1. Cari Amici;

        I just read Guilia’s commentary on chicken suppers at La Sala Italiana. This was an excellent article as is tiur excellent publication Italo Canadese;I look forward receiving it via E-Mail.

        I am a member of La Sala as was my father and my Nonno.We come from Possagno Provincia de Treviso.

        Please keep me on your E-Mailing list.

        Tanti Grazie e Buona Fortuna…