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Saturday, December 05, 2015

IT TAKES JUST A HANDFULL TO A PINCH

If there was one thing Grandma Frances didn’t own was a Mary Margaret McBride cookbook. First of all, she couldn’t read English well and secondly, the only Italian book she owned was her prayer books. An occasional read of Il Progresso or an Italian written church notice, and she was done. I don’t ever recall her watching the TV nor did she ever sit down. Grandma’s library was in her head, the books and newspapers neatly lined on the rows of shelves that stored her logic. Her memory was so good: Grandpa used it to remember what he forgot. She could recall pass good and omissions equally and could recall them in detail, you never argued with her, cross her and she never forgot!
But grandma had a stage, which she appeared on everyday, rain or shine, and she starred. It was amazing to see her cook, reaching into the recesses of her mind for old recipes, and recalling all the new ones. Like grandmothers from Italy, yours or your neighbors and friends: she didn’t measure because she didn’t need to.
Once she got her pasta pot steaming and boiling, like a magic cauldron, she began her magic. Her flip-flops were way ahead of her time as she bounced from one end of the kitchen to the other, she would grab her spices, many home grown and assault her pan or dishes with equal aplomb, flinging the stuff as if bombs were bursting in air. Like all Italian Grandmothers, she had that feel for cooking. In the aftermath lay the utensils of simple origin that were scattered though out the kitchen.
She had this amazing meatball egg-drop soup that materialized before your very nose. Within minutes it would come together and bring you to earth or should I say heaven almost immediately. The aroma of Parmesan cheese, the pieces of cut up crusty bread, the wine sitting in glasses, the mood to eat, the joy of finishing it led to the best memories I have today.
Be it a holiday cooking day for 30 or just for 3 or 4, she was the master, no recipe books, no instructions, just the fresh ingredients and her memory.
God bless all the Italian grandmas!
A mangia!

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