Saturday, October 9, 2010

Anna Sultana, come on down!! - Being 60 (week 23 - by Margaret Ullrich)

No, I don't think I can bring the dead back to life.

But today would've been Ma's 88th birthday and I've been thinking about her.

Ma enjoyed 2 things: cooking and watching game shows like Let's Make a Deal and The Price Is Right.  

She was really good at pricing the merchandise.  If she'd worked as a Wall Street trader with those skills, she'd have made a fortune.  She got such a gleam in her eye as the bidding continued.  

She always said she wished she could be in the audience and that she'd hear the famous phrase: "Anna Sultana, come on down!"    

She would've taken everything.

Another thing Ma loved watching on TV, especially in recent years, was cooking shows.  She had a thing for Emeril and his Bam!  She had said she wanted to go to New Orleans and meet him.

When we visited, Ma would pull out shallots - an unknown item during my childhood - and pass on bits of cooking wisdom she'd learned from the master.  I always brought recipes and we'd try a couple before Paul and I returned to Winnipeg. 

Most of my memories of Ma have to do with food.  One of my earliest, I was about 3 years old, is of peeling onions so she could pickle them.  As the oldest and for 5 years only child, I was her extra pair of hands.  

Ma took to shopping in Manhattan like a duck takes to water.  She would read the ads in the Daily News and plan where we'd get the best deals.  We'd take the IRT to Manhattan, then switch to the downtown train to 14th Street.  I can remember sitting in the train with a ham about my size plopped in my lap, getting woozy from the smell, as we returned from a door buster sale at Kleins.

Ma loved sales.

When they visited us, Ma and I would settle in the kitchen and cook.  Sometimes we'd make something traditional, like ravioli, sometimes we'd try something new.

Once, on the phone, Ma talked about a cake a friend of hers had baked and brought to a Seniors' Club meeting.  Ma liked it and described it.  It sounded familiar, so I copied and sent her the recipe.  Ma baked the cake and brought it to the next meeting.  
Her friend was so annoyed.  
"How did you figure out my recipe," she demanded.

Ma just smiled.

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