Mom’s Cooking

If you didn’t already know, I’m half Italian from my Dad’s side and I’m half British from my Mom’s side. “British, really?” you ask. I know, it’s hard to believe because I don’t resemble an Englishwoman in the least since I have good teeth and nice hair. Plus, I know how to cook, and the British don’t. Well, actually most of them don’t, but my Mom did. Just like my Dad, and myself, and my sister, she was a fantastic cook, and I believe it was because of her passion of food, and her love affair with eating it. If you have a love affair with food, most of the time, you become a fantastic cook, or a fantastic eater. She was both. Because of my Mom’s time spent in Italy with my Dad, she mostly adopted the Italian way of cooking: by using the freshest ingredients, prepared simply, so each ingredient could stand out. Italian cooking is genius in it’s simplicity, but my Mom managed to take it to another level; with her passion and insight of food and subtle flavors, she created a style of cooking all her own.

So we were all fantastic cooks, my family and I, and we all had our love affairs with cooking and eating food. There is no doubt that I often dream of my Dad’s spinach gnocchi or mushroom risotto, or the time in Italy when he made me rabbit for the first time, which he marinated with giant sprigs of rosemary, lemons halves and fragrant garlic cloves to remove some of the gaminess, and when he cooked it, all of those flavors concentrated in the pan with the perfectly browned, sweet rabbit meat. It was definitely a memorable dish. But after my parent’s divorce, I spent most of my time with my Mom, so it is her repertoire of dishes that I go to the most readily. There are countless dishes my Mom made that were memorable and it would take weeks to write about all of them.  But there is one in particular that I’ll always remember, and can boldly say is my favorite; her homemade Swiss Chard Lasagna. It was the best dish I’ve ever had the pleasure of sinking my perfect teeth into, and it is the one to which all others should be compared.

To make it, she used ingredients that she grew from her own garden she so carefully tended to one perfect California summer. She handmade the lasagna noodles, incorporating the swiss chard into the dough and turning out long, bright green sheets of fresh pasta using the hand-crank pasta maker she had. Then she made a spectacular sauce from her best tomatoes, simmering it on the stove until it was a sweet, dense, tomato-ey delight! She layered the bright green lasagna noodles with ladles of sweet, red sauce and creamy white ricotta cheese, sprinkled Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the top, then carefully put it in the oven to bake. When it came out, we both stared at it with awe for a few moments, watching it bubble in the pan. The vibrant colors of red, green and white were a feast for the eyes! As we cut it with our forks, the ricotta and tomato melted out onto our plates, and as we ate it, the tender pasta melted in our mouths. It was creamy, salty, sweet and tender. So simple, yet so flavorful, so spectacular! I knew she was proud of her accomplishment and she deserved a gold medal for it. We finished the entire dish in one day.

Since she was in her 80s, my Mom was no longer a fantastic cook but she was still a fantastic eater, which was evident when we were all dining together recently: myself, my sister, my Mom and her kind neighbor, and my Mom ate my sister’s Chicken Parmigiano with gusto, finishing the entire plate, and even having dessert! We were all amazed at how much she ate that night and it was good to see her with a healthy appetite because her health had been in decline the past few months. It was a good memory to have of her, all of us dining together at her table, with easy conversation flowing and good food to enjoy. It reminded me of all the times we spent together in her kitchen, cooking and eating.

Now every time I sit down to eat a dish I’ve prepared, I will imagine her sitting across the table from me, and I’ll say to her “You know, my dish is pretty good, but it’s not as good as yours Mom.”

She will be greatly missed.

January 14, 1930 – December 1, 2012

Categories: Food, Love | Tags: , | 3 Comments


Okay, I have a question: Why is it that we have to make every day something to celebrate? You know, the whole “National fill-in-the-blank Day”? Every single day in the calendar year has been designated something “National”. Why do we have to designate anything to a particular day anyway, instead of just enjoying it whenever we feel like it? For instance, the other day was National Milk Chocolate Day (you better believe I was on that goddamn train) and today was National Deviled Eggs Day…

…which explains that weird smell in the office…

…and tomorrow is National Chili Dog Day…

…and you all know how much I hate eating hot dogs (I can just imagine which gender came up with that one)!

If this is going to continue, and it’s glaringly apparent that it’s not going away anytime soon, I say, let me make up my own day. Here it is: I declare there be a National Taco Day starting right now! I mean, if there’s a National Chili Dog Day being forced down my throat, then shouldn’t there be a reasonable expectation that someone should celebrate National Taco Day… by eating taco? You bet your sweet ass there should! If I had my way, It’d be National Taco Day every day of the year… 365!

But I’m not even gonna go there because that’s an exercise in frustration… I can never find someone who knows how to eat a goddamn taco properly in the first place!! 

Someone told me it’s because of the shredded lettuce…

I don’t know if I agree with that though. Supposedly it’s good manners nowadays to serve your taco without shredded lettuce, which personally, I don’t think is normal since tacos automatically come with shredded lettuce. Not that I’ve been eating any tacos… I just happened to have dropped my drawers on my front lawn the other day and someone yelled out “Coyote!

Who’s gonna be the one to stick their hands down there to remove the shredded lettuce anyway? Not the Mexican guy who does my lawn, that’s for goddamn sure, he doesn’t even cut my grass evenly. And maybe he likes shredded lettuce on his tacos anyway. Well I’ll never know because if I don’t like chili dogs, I’m certainly not gonna like chorizo sausage.

But back to the National Milk Chocolate Day thing. I know I’ve discussed the subject of chocolate before but there’s a reason for it. What the reason? It’s chocolate, that’s why.

Anyway I was in one of those dollar stores today… you know the one where they say everything is a buck, but it’s really not since some items are more than a buck, which is bullshit that they call themselves the 99¢ Only Stores then because first of all, most everything is $1, not 99¢, and even some of their items are a few bucks, like their toilet paper, which is more like newspaper without the print. 


Can you um, take that off?

The reason I keep going there is because sometimes they get these bonus items in their inventory; stuff that you’d find in the regular supermarkets that are triple the price, so it keeps me going back because it’s like a treasure hunt. So when I was in there the other day, I walked down the aisle that’s usually off-limits to myself: the candy aisle. That’s a misnomer because every aisle is the candy aisle in the dollar stores since 99% of their food items are loaded with sugar, hence the name, 99¢ Only Store… but that’s another story, this story is about finding good, quality chocolate; the kind that’s usually super expensive at places like Whole Foods.

I found Green & Black’s organic chocolate there today and it only cost me a buck instead of almost $5… awesome! However, it’s not the regular size bar, it’s a mini… 1.2 ounces, to be exact. That’s why I bought six of them and…

Yes, I said six… excuse me, but that is not excessive… it’s the smaller size dammit! If I were to buy the regular size, it would equal three of the ones I got… so there!

Now I’ve only ever eaten Green & Black’s dark chocolate; this was the first time trying the milk chocolate, and when I got back to my car with my groceries, I wanted to test it out right away, so I greedily stuffed my face with a few squares… okay, the whole goddamn bar, sheesh! But the milk chocolate isn’t like the dark chocolate… it’s sort of, um… sort of… uhhh… well, it’s very um… organic.

Look, I know it’s classified USDA organic chocolate, but what I mean by “organic” is that it’s not as smooth and refined as the dark. It’s like… well, like the classy dark chocolate’s hippie brother… it wears nice clothes and all, but when you look down, it’s got hairy legs… and wears Birkenstocks… hideous! The dark is elegant and smooth, like a clean-shaven James Bond in a fine Armani suit and…

W a i t a second… smoothclean-shaven

My God, now I get it!! Why would anyone want to bite into something with tons of shredded lettuce on it?! Oh thank goodness I got it all straightened out now… all by a chocolate bar, of all things! Thank you Green & Blacks!

Um, does anyone know a good gardener?

Categories: Best food blog, Chocolate, Food, Funny, Humor, Sarcasm, Satire | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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