Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gloria (This Isn't Soul Food)

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Well, well, well, who ate too much last night? And is still gonna eat a few more big meals this week? What can I say? I am a skinny mini but I really like good food!

I’m thinking Gloria’s story about her love of food, and about her love of her mom, really, is perfect to get us all “filled up” and pumped for 2013.

My favorite line is when she said her mom “metaphorically traveled through her culinary explorations to France, Germany & Italy.” When Gloria read that out loud, I jumped up because that’s what I do too. Is that silly? When my husband and I get tacos, I say, “Off to Mexico!” When we get Pad Thai, I say, “We’re going to Thailand today!”

PS. In case you are a new reader to our blog (well, first, welcome and so glad you are here!!) our whole class calls Gloria “daughter” and Aileen “mommy,”  and they always come to class together sitting side by side, so when you read this story, picture that, or imagine you are Mommy “Aileen” hearing your daughter say all this about you, think of how proud that would make you to hear all this.

Gloria Washington
This Isn’t Soul Food

When I was growing up as a child of 6, 7, 8 and up through early adolescence, my sisters and I didn’t eat fired chicken, potato salad, macaroni & cheese or collard greens. We didn’t eat pigs feet or chitterlings. There was no corn bread. Instead my mother consulting her Good Housekeeping cookbook or NY Times Magazine recipes would step outside the boundaries. She metaphorically traveled through her culinary explorations to France, Germany & Italy. We had Quiche Lorraine before it was popular in the 80’s with the “in crowd.” On Saturdays for breakfast we had the deliciously tantalizing sweet breakfast cake, Georgia Sally Lund. Around the holidays I would sit patiently by her side as she assembled the ingredients and special pans for Buche de Noel. A decadent, rich, rolled chocolate cake that literally translates to Christmas Log. Other mornings I would awaken to the enticing scents of Panettone, the rich, Italian egg bread studded with dried citron we purchased especially at Strawbridses gourmet food court.

These transcendent offerings tantalized us. This is what we knew. This was our world, our mother, our repertoire for adventurous, delicious eating that gave us snapshots of other cultures through dining. There was more; chicken cacciatore, some American favorites, and ratatouille – the rich, garlicky eggplant mélange – long before the popular Disney movie of the same name came out. My sister and I never thought of this food as different. When we visited our friends homes and were offered standards of fried chicken and potato salad we took no offense. It was all good. Today I love a good potato salad, although I never make fried chicken (except for wings dusted with Chinese spice or doses of cayenne). I prefer roasted eggplant with edamame, Moroccan tangerines or a simple sirloin. That’s just who I am. I guess my mother’s love of languages: French, Italian, Russian & German contributed to her epicurean attitude.