I used to laugh when my Dad used to make stuff for us in the kitchen. I can tell you it just was not something he was very good at. Thank God, most of us are fortunate to have two parents if for no other reason than not to starve. My mom thankfully made sure we were always well fed. But I have to tell you three and a half years since my Dad’s passing of an unexpected heart attack, I miss some of the stuff he used to make.
A culinary genius he was not, but what he made in the rare instances did taste good. He used to take four pieces of white, Italian bread, put them on a plate, slice tomato, top the bread with tomato, put Italian dressing, salt and pepper and dug in. It was pretty darn good even though at the end you were eating nothing but soggy white bread with Italian dressing with a little bit of tomato.
His other Wolfgang Puck moment was when he would take leftover Italian sausage from the night before and mix it with eggs the next morning. I really have never seen someone eat slightly rubbery, yellowish-brown eggs with sausage, but my Dad found a way. They were not really all that bad. I always knew that the day after we had Italian sausage you can bet that those links were diced and drowning in eggs the next day.
When my sisters and I were little he used to put vanilla ice cream into a bowl and pour some creme de menthe liquer in there. We liked it for two reasons, one it turned the ice cream minty green, and two we were drinking grown up stuff. Both very cool at such a young age.
It is these three things that I remember when I am in the kitchen and something doesn’t taste as good as it should. Generations consistently get better at what they are doing, and hopefully when I make the Kraft Mac n Cheese at least I don’t burn it. These foods connect me with a sense of family and fun times as we always gave my Dad a hard time when he cooked. But he tried, and didn’t stop trying because if he did I would not have remembered all of these great memories today.
Wherever you are Dad as they say before all traditional Italian meals: Bon apetit. Or maybe it’s before all traditional French meals…
Can you remember a time where the smell or a taste of a food triggered a memory of your Dad or loved one for you?
Always a friend to listen,
Eric Tomei-author I Miss My Dad
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