Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Holidays Mean Trouble (part 7 - by Margaret Ullrich)

    Liz told Ma, “Annie, the lamb you made today was very good.”  Aunt Demi snorted.  Ma looked nervous.  Demi's snorting meant more than a sinus condition.

    Wanting to score a few more points with her new husband's sister, Aunt Liz smiled and explained the finer points of American haute cuisine.  “My family always had baked ham for Easter.  Without garlic.  Baked ham is traditional in America.  It’s easier, Annie.”  Aunt Demi snorted again.

    Ma winced.  She knew Liz didn’t mean any harm.  ‘Annie’ was a proper American name.  Ma’s name, Annetta, was Maltese for Anne.  She knew Americans often added ‘ie’ to the end of the beginning part of friends’ names.  Her friend Deborah had asked her to call her ‘Debbie’.

    But, in Malta, family and close friends used the last part of names.  Ma was used to being called ‘Netta’.  She didn’t want to cause a problem for her brother Charlie.  She just wished his wife would call her ‘Netta’.   

    Aunt Demi took upon herself the heavy responsibility of explaining the finer points of Maltese haute cuisine.  “Easier is not the point of a holiday.  Hmmph.  For a holiday you kill yourself making something that’s too much trouble.  Like the kannoli I made for today.  Then everybody knows they have to eat a lot of it, whether they want to or not.  Eh...  Then you know you had a holiday.”  

    Liz considered this bit of Maltese culture and cracked another walnut.  Satisfied that she had done her job as the family matriarch, Demi went back to her crocheting.  

    Then Liz made her big announcement.  “Annie, your brother Charlie’s such a sweetheart!  He’s taking my Mom and me out to Club Safari for a Mother’s Day Brunch.  Annie, why don’t you come with us?”

    “What’s a brunch?”  Ma knew that Liz loved to talk about food almost as much as she loved to eat it.

    “Why, a brunch is a magnificent spread of scrambled eggs, chicken livers, Eggs Benedict, sausages, golden French toast, English muffins and an iced fresh fruit tray.”  Liz’s eyes grew moist.  “There’ll be a crumb-topped Smithfield ham to be savored in thin, thin slices with hot buttered biscuits and corn bread.”

    Aunt Demi was not impressed.  “Waste of money to eat out.  What kind of people eat food that a stranger cooked?”

    Liz was deep in Mother's Day Brunchland.  In an ecstatic daze, she continued, “We can help ourselves to everything and eat all we want.”  Then she added what was to her the cherry on her Mother’s Day celebration cake.  

    “We’ll be there all day.”

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