Save the date. Put it on your List. Circle the Sunday after Valentine’s Day. Make plans to be in beautiful Southeastern Montana for the Boyes Ladies Club Annual Italian Dinner.
Boyes probably won’t pop up on one of big travel agencies as a destination spot. So, get out the Montana Highway map, and enjoy putting your fingers on the flat surface to trace your way. A couple of hints will help you get started.
Find Powder River County where there is a heck of lot more cattle than people, and where, if you see a guy or gal with spurs on their boot heels, you can bet they know how to punch cows. Once you find the county, locate Broadus and Highway 59 S. Boyes Community Hall will show up in a few miles.
The dinner is pure Italian, cooked by folks whose heritage started years ago when the Italian immigrants found their spot in the beautiful wide open spaces of eastern Montana.
You will hear names like Barbero, Trucano, Capra, Mills, Drain, Talcott, Gianuno. Mary Ann Mills, fondly known by locals as Poppy, is the head cook.
“The cooks gather in my house, and we cook,” she said. “Our raviolis don’t taste like they came off a delivery truck, no heavy cheesy flavor, and we make the sauce like the old time Italian ladies would have made with plenty of onions and lots and lots of garlic.”
Then there’s the chicken cacciatore, Mary Ann’s specialty, again made with a heavy dose of garlic and onions and put over polenta, a corn meal mush.
“I love it, it’s my favorite,” she said.
And there’s fried cabbage with butter and garlic, a raw vegetable salad with oil, vinegar, onions and garlic. And to make sure no one goes away hungry from this all-you-can-eat dinner, there’s lasagna and garlic bread.
Oh, and for desserts, Mary Ann said there’s plenty. A really good one is the cookie dough torte covered with strawberry jam, baked and cut into serving pieces. And, save a spot on your plate for the Italian cake. It’s a must final touch.
The dinner is a fund raiser for the club. It started more than 30 years ago when someone came up with the idea to honor Lydia Capra who came to America with her family. She was 11 years old, couldn’t speak a word of English, but she found solid footing in her new land and thrived like so many of the Italian immigrants did in this little corner of Montana.
This wonderful lady never wanted to see her heritage lost as years went by. She was a big supporter of the dinner and kept encouraging the younger ladies to keep up the annual event.
“Lydia was the only true Italian, and she kept after us to stick to the Italian way of cooking and sharing it with folks,” Mary Ann said.
Now many younger daughters of these families are involved. It must be working, because a couple of hundred people come back year after year to eat and enjoy visiting.
“There’s a banker that comes every year from Belle Fourche, a fellow who must have some Italian in his blood,” said Mary Ann. “He likes the way we cook.” MSN
Questions about this good time, call Mary Ann at 406-427-5317.