I was an only child--odd for an Italian family--but my cousin Gary was, too, so we grew up sorta like brothers.
The Uncles told Gary stuff I never got to hear. I knew it was about girls, and since Italians talk with their hands, I had a pretty good idea of what it was all about even if I couldn't hear.
The cooking was sort of a sporting event. A lot of it was done to impress the uncle's dates, wives, or their mother, Sophia--my grandmother. Mothers are very important to Italian men. The women come and
go, but mothers are there until the end.
Italian men marry their mothers and chase every other woman.
My Grandpa Carlos said it never changed no matter how old they got.