Sunday, January 20, 2013

Obama, Death, Ma and Emeril Lagasse by Margaret Ullrich

Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. 
The inauguration was one of the world's most watched events.

A New Birth of Freedom, a phrase from the Gettysburg Address, was the theme to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth year of Abraham Lincoln.

January 20, 2009 was also the day my father died.
It wasn't totally a surprise.
He had been in poor health for many years.
But, it was still a shock.

January, 2009, was a strange month for our family.
Within a few weeks four other elderly relatives also died.
Then, a few months later, in October, my mother died.
The day of Ma's funeral, our last dog, BoBo, died.

Sometimes families just have a year like that.
That's life.

A few weeks before Ma died I had started my blog Winnipeg is Better Than Chocolate.
It was a way to continue the Community Cupboard aspect of the show Sophie Kolt and I had done on the University of Winnipeg radio station CKUW.

Then, about a week after Ma and BoBo died, I started this blog.
I don't know why I did it.
At first it was just a place to write my thoughts.
Turning 60, deaths, thoughts… just another personal blog.

December 2009 brought a very different Christmas to me.
A few years earlier Ma had gotten interested in the cooking shows.
Along with the recipes, she was trying new ingredients, too.
I usually sent Ma the Christmas recipe brochures that I found in the stores.
She enjoyed reading and trying a new recipe or two.
Not sending her brochures of recipes in 2009 made her death more real to me.

That December Paul and I were browsing in the mall. 
Just doing something normal in a very un-normal year.
In a mark-down bin I found the cookbook Entertaining with The Sopranos.

About mark-down bins…
During the 50s Ma sewed most of my clothes.
Every weekend we'd shop the mark-down bins in fabric stores in lower Manhattan and in Jamaica, Queens.
Ma never bought fabric that had to be cut from a bolt.
She had trained me to always 'take a look' at bins of sale items.
So, she knew I wouldn't be able to ignore that clearance bin of books.

Back to Entertaining with The Sopranos...
The photos of the meals brought back lots of memories.
I bought the book and planned to cook my way through it.
Carmela's ingredients were a little more expensive than what Ma would have cooked.
So, I thought it would be fun to compare Carmela's and Ma's recipes and post about them.

Maltese living in Canada, Australia, Britain and beyond love Ma's recipes, which remind them of what their Moms had cooked.
Within a few months Ma was being googled for her recipes.
During her life Ma had only used the computer for playing solitaire.
She now has a fan base!

About a year after Ma had died, I had a dream.
Ma was still being Ma, having a hand in things.

One of Ma's favorite chefs was Emeril Lagasse.
Yes, Mr. Bam!!
Ma really got curious about New Orleans.
She had said that she wanted to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
Sadly, she never got the chance.

I'm Turning 60 is now a food blog.
I'm a member of Manitoba Food Bloggers.
We bloggers are invited to food events.
In return we're expected to write about them.

Last week Paul and I attended a food tasting event for Winnipeg Mardi Gras.
A sampling of what they'll be serving next month.
We had fun and enjoyed the food.
I think Ma, through us, also enjoyed Winnipeg Mardi Gras.

Thinking about that dream I had a couple of years ago...  
It wouldn't surprise me if Ma had a hand in our being there.
Nope, it wouldn't surprise me at all.


  1. what a beautiful tribute to "Ma".. Happy Mother's Day, Marg

  2. Thank you, and Happy Mother's Day to you!

    Yes, I always thought my Ma was the equal of the Mama in the movie "I Remember Mama". It wasn't easy being a mother in a foreign country.

  3. I agree, it wasn't easy being a mother in a new land. My mom with her brood of seven kids and my dad managed it.

    Most of the cooking I do now is for her and so I've kept up with traditional Maltese cooking which, at 87 she loves.

  4. So glad you still have your mom with you!

    Yes, our moms faced many things that made their situations difficult.

  5. My Mennonite mother also loved to sew and sewed all the clothing for her eight children when our family was growing up. Later she worked at Sears as a seamstress and met women from many other cultures, which was an eye opener for her. She loved it! When the grandchildren came along she sewed for them as well--not only clothing but craft items as well. Her grandchildren loved her and when she died in 2008 there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth! We all miss her so much! I've just turned 71 and am a grandma myself now. Mom's example is always before me.

  6. Hi, Elfrieda,

    Yes, it must've been an eye opener for our moms, moving to multicultural countries. It's admirable how well they managed, facing a different culture in such changing times!

    Growing up in New York prepared me for the many nationalities found in Winnipeg, so it wasn't as big a shock.

    Still, I wish I could get advice from Ma, even today.

  7. I just saw this book on Cookbook Wednesday Margaret. Thank you for sharing it and this lovely post.

  8. Thank you, Louise, for reading this post. Can't believe it's been six years...

    Also thank you for creating an opportunity for food bloggers to get to meet on your blog

    I'm amazed at how many food bloggers there are! Wouldn't it be nice if we all could get together.

    Say hi to Marion and give Iggy a treat for me!

  9. Just found your blog via Twitter. So interesting. I didn't know there was the book ;Entertaining with the Sopranos' but I'm not surprised. I always loved the food Carmela was serving. I shall try & track a copy of the book down now. Might be tricky in the UK

    1. Hi, Jean,
      So glad you found my blog. I hope you'll find some Carmela recipes here that you'll enjoy. Ma's recipes are good, too.
      Good luck finding a copy of 'Entertaining'. It was published in 2006. There was another book, called 'The Sopranos' Family Cookbook', which was published in 2002, and it has similar recipes.
      Oh, my... 2002... Goodness!! Time sure flies!


All comments are moderated. Spam will not be posted.