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Fave Memory - When I was a child and I used to have lunch with my grandparents it was always a joyful day.
Every Sunday the family met all together. Before starting to eat my grandpa used to take a handful of cheese and let it fall on the dish of pasta, saying “it’s snowing!!!” A thin white layer appeared, and it started to melt due to the heat, just like snow. He used to repeat it every time, and every time I was enchanted by those flakes falling down softly.
One of my favorite food memory's is around savoring things from the garden...my mom and I use to experiment with canning, pickling, fermenting and drying a variety of goodness...fruit, veggies and herbs :)!
One day my sister and I came home from school to that overwhelmingly delicious scent of turkey cooking. Mom, however, explained that her friend Ina's oven had broken down. And since Ina had a thawed turkey that HAD to be cooked, Mom baked the turkey as a favor to her. ?!? Who knew Mom had such a sense of humor! She continued to surprise us with turkey off and on, but we didn't fall for the "It's for Ina" trick again. I never did discover her super secret turkey thawing station, though she finally spilled the beans to me last week!
Fave Memory (or, more accurately, based on a memory).
My dad had very strong opinions about food (i.e., is it sweet or is it sour...decide!). But I didn't know that he had equally strong opinions about serving dishes. He HATED my two rabbit tureens that had heads made out of bell peppers, etc. I always thought it would be fun to prepare him a meal of "animals" constructed of other foods. So I drew up these three animals and composed a short poem about each one, as if it was a Halloween potion. Because the poems reference the body parts of the animals, I decided to show the organs of one animal via an "organ x-ray". I do think that Dad would have liked that part, since he was always up for a good pun.
After thinking about it longer....I don't just love summer time canning...but baking too! My mom and I loved throwing in fresh fruit and flowers in or on our baked goods. So much beauty to be found amongst Mother Nature's Bounty :).
Occasionally Dad would have to work out of town for the weekend. Since he didn't consider pizza a "proper" meal, the first thing that my mom, sister, and I would do is get a pizza from Genii's. Then we'd bake and decorate cupcakes all night long while listening to music (Mom loved disco!) and dancing in the kitchen.
Fave Memory (of my husband and in-laws).
Seriously, I love my mother-in-law. She raised five kids as a single mom while working full time. However, seriously, who believes that their kids LOVE soggy cooked spinach and eggs, dotted with bits of cheese? OK, I would love the cheese and today I would eat the spinach, but not as a child!
AGLIO E OLIO and The Feast of Seven Fishes- Fave Memory
Christmas Eve has always been my favorite family holiday. The night was always filled with anticipation for what was yet to come. The holiday was just beginning!!
Christmas Eve is also The Feast of Seven Fishes, my favorite Italian Food tradition.
As relatives argued the true meaning of the seven fishes, a parade of seafood would hit the table. Seven different kinds of fish were required for the event. There was mom’s beloved filet of soul, schmelts (tiny filets of fish lightly floured and sautéed), shrimp scampi and sometimes clams orreganato. We no longer had Nana’s, Baccala or Eel, which had been banished from menu by the late 70s. But, we still had more choices then you could possibly imagine! Preparation started weeks in advance, procuring the finest seafood and freshest produce.
But, by far, my favorite dish was the Pasta. Every Christmas Eve, mom served her bowl of steaming hot spaghetti called Aglio E Olio (the bowl actually said Spaghetti on it) to her eagerly awaiting family. (Eye-ya Oy-ya) as it was pronounced in our best southern Italian dialect, is a savory sauce made with garlic and anchovies and garnished with fresh parsley. Mom coaxed magic out of a few very humble ingredients to create a silky sauce that was comforting with a big bold and nutty flavor. Not for the faint of heart- with all those anchovies-it was the Umami of your dreams!
We always knew that we had to save room for our next six courses!! But, our bellies kept getting fuller as we continued to slurp our way through this year’s batch of Aglio E Olio!
I’m sure the rest of the dinner was just as delicious. But, I guarantee you that as we were clearing the table and setting out cookies for dessert, we were already thinking about next year’s Christmas Eve Aglio E Olio (or at least leftovers, if there were any).
Fave Memory! The year I turned 2 my parents bought a piece of land in the countryside about an hour and half from where we lived. For a decade before they built a home the 8 of us, plus dog, would pile into our station wagon and drive out of the city to picnic in our new found piece of paradise. 70's classics like potato salad and wagon wheels, my Mom's famous jello mould and deviled eggs rank among my fondest memories. The mere sight of a Coleman thermos or a slice of her lemon pie takes me back to those summers with the smells and sounds of the forest, the movement of woodland animals and insects, the time of the long shadows, the richness of the summer sky.