Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bye, Bye, Carmela Soprano by Margaret Ullrich

All good things must come to an end.
It's been fun cooking my way through Carmela's Entertaining with the Sopranos.
No, more than fun.
It was a reminder of where I came from.

I was an immigrant kid, just off the boat.
Stuck in Queens.
Some of my classmates and neighbors were kind.
Some were not.

Enjoying Ma's cooking was a guilty pleasure.
I loved our food.
Packing leftovers for lunch sometimes led to culture shock moments.
Not good times.

It was the 1950s.
America's idea of Mediterranean was tinned ravioli, a la Chef Boyardee.
An event like Winnipeg's Folklorama was beyond our neighbors' imagination.
Or tolerance.

The movie Julie & Julia just skimmed the excitement Julia Child brought to America.
Julia Child was truly exotic.
Something some Moms would try for a special event.
The more adventurous Moms.

Cooking my way through Entertaining with the Sopranos wasn't a quest for me.
I was on home turf.
Sometimes I shamelessly substituted.
I wanted to go back to my roots.
And for that I have to thank Michele Scicolone.
She was the true source of the recipes in the cookbook.
Carmela was fiction, but fun.
So was her editor.

Before I tackled Michele's recipes I was a sucker for the newest flavor fashion.
Now I just ignore them.
I mean, who needs raspberry vinegar?
Ma's - and Michele's - recipes have been around for centuries.
They're classics.
Raspberry vinegar?  
I don't think so.

Life is short.
I want to savor foods that feed the soul as well as the stomach.

Thank you, Michele. 
And, of course, thank you, Ma.

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