Tales of a wandering lesbian

Southern fried

Okay, so Atlanta, being in the South, has a lot of fried food.  This is true.  I think I had something fried with every meal I ate in my week-long trip.  However…there is also some seriously good food in that place.  I’m talking Atlanta and the lesbian-infused suburb of Decatur.  Here are the highlights from the trip’s food log.  Food pretty much fell into three categories:  Breakfast, veggie burger, and fried.  There was some overlap.  There were also a couple of healthyish meals thrown in for good measure.


My first day there, my hostess, Kelly, took me to one of the best breakfast spots in town:  Highland Bakery.  (It just so happens, it’s gay-owned, too.  Joy!)  I’d been there about 7 years ago when I last visited Atlanta.  It was good then, but now it’s bigger, better and even more delicious.

What’s better than being greeted by a cupcake-laden pastry counter?  Not much really.  Unless it’s a mini-muffin sampler!

Yeah, that was good.

The actual meal was a breakfast sandwich of some kind for Kelly, and the breakfast burrito, recommended by our waiter.  I’ll have to go back to try the Hoppin’ Highland.

Pretty much every day, I headed to the Dancing Goats for coffee and bagels.  Mmmmm, bagels.  I hadn’t my usual bagel fix for over a month, so I was really excited to encounter the hand-made, wood-fired bagels at Dancing Goats.

Not to mention the world-class coffee.  (There are only two Dancing Goats coffee-shops, despite the coffee being sold everywhere.)

And then there were donuts.  I heard there was a place that’s been compared to Voodoo Donut in Portland.  I knew it couldn’t actually be like Voodoo.  That’s not possible.  It was, however, delicious.

Housed in a non-descript strip-mall of a building, Sublime Donuts turns out gourmet donuts.  We chatted with the owner who, when asked for his favorite, waived his arm dramatically and declared “all of them!”  Kelly had the caramel-apple fritter.

And I signed up for a red velvet cake and an orange dream star.

The red velvet was topped with cream cheese frosting and pecans and the orange dream star was filled with creaminess and topped with a delicate, sweet orange frosting.

Next there were the sweet potato waffles at Rise and Dine.  Kelly raved about these things from the second I got in until we had them.  And then a little after that.

She had hers with bacon.  I had mine with Jalapeno cheddar grits.

Turns out I’m a grits girl.

Which I proved again and again, next at The Flying Biscuit.  This place used to be owned by the Indigo Girls.  Now it’s not, but it’s tasty.  I had this:

It was black bean patties, over-medium eggs, tomatillo salsa and feta cheese.  With a side of cheesy grits.  And a biscuit.  And homemade jam.  O. M. Y.  Oh my yum.  This is possibly the best thing I ate in Atlanta.  At least for breakfast.  Don’t be dirty.

The award for most beautiful breakfast in Atlanta came from Rise ‘n’ Dine.  I made a return trip.  This time I had a scramble with tomato, goat cheese and basil.  It came with a beautiful biscuit and house-made, no-sugar-added jam.  It was terrific.  And pretty.

The least delicious, but most interesting breakfast was at IHOP.  It’s been years since I had eaten at an IHOP.  I was a fiend in college.  Currently, IHOP has a 600 calorie or less menu.  I’m really not sure how many people in the house were eating off of it, but my other hostess, Linda, and I were.  Not a bad meal, in fact.  Harvest Nut and Grain pancake, egg substitutes and a banana.

The other quasi-healthy, and much tastier meal I had was at Kelly’s place.  She and her partner cooked for me.  The takeaway from the meal was a recipe for kale chips.  Yep, kale chips.  If you rip kale into potato chip sized pieces, place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then bake at 400ish until they’re crispy, you’ll be delighted.  It’s almost like a potato chip.  But healthy.  And kale.

I’ve since learned that you can add a bit of mustard to give it a zing.  Paired with cheese I brought back from Italy, we had a darn good meal.

For other healthyish meals, I hit ragin’ tacos for a plate of delicious tofu tacos,

and Lotta Frutta, an excellent, exotic fruit smoothie bar.  I had a guana smoothie and a grilled cheese.

The sandwich came with seasoned corn bits that I would, oddly enough, experience a week later in Peru.

Veggie burgers:

I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of house-made veggie burgers on menus all over the city.  Some of these were seriously good.  Some of these were seriously fried.  Some of these were served in restaurants I will not frequent.

The first was at Joe’s on Juniper, a gay sports bar with a great outdoor seating area.

The burger was house made with black beans, and fried.  It was tasty, but fell apart in my hands, which irritates me, truth be told.  I sat on the patio and listened to labor protestors across the street.  My waiter apologized, but I had good time listening to the chants.

That same night, Kelly took me to a fancy burger bar, called Flip Burger.  I only tell you the name so that you will know that it’s the place that serves fois gras.  For that reason, I won’t, personally, go back.  The burgers were good.  Mine might have been fried, I don’t recall, but it was topped with pickled onions, goat cheese, and microgreens.  Kelly had a bacon cheeseburger.

The real purpose of the trip, however, was the milkshakes.  Kelly’s was toasted marshmallow, and mine was turtle.  Neither of us opted for the goose-liver pate option…

While we were there, we ordered a tray of fried pickles.

Yes, they were good.  They were bread and butter, and came with some kind of buttermilk dipping sauce.  I’ve always pictured a fried pickle as a whole pickle, dropped into a deep fryer.  That’s not what these were.  They could have been bread and butter shoeleather, fried and slathered and they would have tasted good.

Much like the fried okra I had a couple of days later at a place called Farm Burger.

This had some kind of chipotle dipping sauce.  I think I liked this veggie burger best of all.  It was fried and fell apart, but it was quinoa.  I like quinoa.  It’s another grain I saw a lot of in Peru…  Paired with the sweet pickles and goat cheese, the burger was nice.  It went down smoothly.  Which is good, because Farm Burger also serves ice cream floats.  I had a ginger beer one.

While the award for best veggie burger goes to Farm Burger, the award for best fried food goes to Watershed.

That’s an okra pancake.  Actually, it’s two of them.  Chopped and battered and formed into cakes, the okra retains some of its former glory, the tapioca-sized seeds bursting in your mouth.  But it becomes more.  It’s far better than the usual fried-okra, which is pretty darn good.  It was delicate and crispy.  It didn’t hit me over the head with its okraness or its fried nature.  It was just simple and good.  Like everything else on the plate.  There was no surplus.  The heirloom tomatoes were simply seasoned with salt and pepper.  The cucumber salad was dressed with crème fraische.  I left full and happy.  Plus, it was at Emily Saliers place, Watershed.  So it was staffed by cute girls, and had a certain lesbian sensibility about it.

While I ate well the whole time, there’s one meal that stands out.  After a long day of writing, I was hoping to grab a piece of pizza and head back home.  Only, on the way to the pizza place, I got sidetracked by a menu in the window of the Iberian Pig.

That’s the pig.  Or it’s A pig.  Might not be the actually Iberian Pig.  Unclear.  What was clear was that the food was divine.  Peaches, quinoa and churros.  If you want more detail, you’ll have to wait.  This place deserves its own post.

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July 22, 2010   2 Comments

You gonna eat that?

Despite the fit that Venice threw while we were there, we managed to find some serious food.

Even in the storm, I was able to find my favorite restaurants.  Whether it was Grom for incredible, fresh gelato,

or Pizza al Volo for the best veggie pizza ever,

my old haunts materialized before us.  I was even able to find the most remote of my previous dinner places on the first try.

Trattoria della Madonna is marked by a big, green lantern.  As I went to tell the Ant this, I found myself looking at it.

Like last time, I found the Madonna an elegantly simple restaurant.

Serving seafood specialties and seasonal vegetables, I find it a delight to point my waiter in a direction – vegetarian, meat, fish – and let him bring something good.

Tonight, we had a great dinner of Bolognese and pasta e fagioli

And snapper (it came whole and was boned for the Ant) and veggies.

The Ant loved her snapper, and I was unable to finish the huge plate of vegetables.  Though I stuffed as many of the carrots, peas and veiny beans down my throat as I could.

And then I ordered dessert.

Not because I was hungry, but because you can’t really go to the alleged birthplace of tiramisu and not have it.  Can you?

I think I cannot.

Regardless, it was a good first night of food.  But we had another.  After considering the menus of both Casi nobili, and Ristoteca Oniga, we decided to go with Oniga for our second night of food.

Oniga is a really warm place.

It glows with hospitality.  I sat next to the owner’s Staffordshire terrier, asleep in her bed.

And we were soon in conversation with the two couples on either side of us.  Of course, it helped that we were crammed in like sardines, but still.  While we considered the menu, we shared travel tips and recommendations for food.  The Ant and I found ourselves the resident experts on Venice, Rome and Siena, and we were glad to share what knowledge we had with our dining companions.

Tonight, I settled on a giant gnocchi and the Ant on a spaghetti with clams.

The gnocchi were the exact right firmness, even though they were twice the size of any gnocchi I’d ever had.  And the sauce was a lovely, delicate blend of tomato, basil and bufala mozzarella – three of my favorite things.

The Ant raved about her spaghetti, and we passed along the recommendations to our friends around us, who were asking how it was.

Next came another whole fish for the Ant, and something the waiter had thrown together for me.

It was cheese.  More bufala mozzarella.  And the most absolutely astounding tomatoes I think I’ve ever had.  I’d guess they were plum.  Maybe Roma.  But they were sweet and dressed with balsamic.  Really good balsamic vinegar.  And there was a dollop of fresh pesto.  I made little stacks of cheese, pesto and tomatoes piled on bread.

And then I ordered dessert again.

A meek bus girl came over to take our plates, and asked if we wanted something sweet.

“What do you recommend?”  I asked in some kind of Italian that she recognized.

“Ciocolata,” she smiled enthusiastically.  I nodded and settled in, eager to see what she would bring.

Yeah, it was chocolate.  Cake.  With some kind of maybe creamy-nut filling.  And fudgy frosting.  And a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

This, my friends, is why I ask for recommendations.

The Ant leaned over to one of the couples, and I leaned over to the other.

“You have to order this.  No, I don’t know what it is.  She just said, ‘ciocolata’.”  They all nodded and thanked us for the recommendation.

We finished up our little espressos, paid the bill, said goodnight to the dog and our new friends, and headed out into the night, to our little room a couple of blocks away, jacked up on caffeine and sugar, and blissfully exhausted.

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July 7, 2010   3 Comments

The Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii is my favorite island so far.  It’s striking – looking from the beach up over the high desert or the jungle to the top of the Mauna Kea observatory.  From the blast of flowery, hot air that hits me in the face when I step off the plane, to the birds that wake me in the morning, I enjoy being here.

Yesterday was a good sampler day.  We hit a beach for some sun and boogie boarding, watched whales throwing themselves into the air, had lunch in an old-school café, and looked over cliffs onto a stunning black-sand beach.

I’m staying with my parents on the Kona side of the island.  We’ve been coming here for over 15 years.  At this point, it really does feel like a home away from home.  This 3-week trip is the longest time I’ve spent in the island.  It’s a long time.  Still it’s nice to feel like I can pass on activities one day without fear of missing out.  I know we’ll go snorkeling more than once, and the beaches are always there.

After a breakfast of papaya and apple bananas from the local farmer’s market, yesterday’s Hawaiipalooza started with a trip to Hapuna State Park.  This beach, about 30 miles north of Kailua-Kona (the big city and airport on this side of the island), is awesome.  The beach itself is about half a mile long, and super wide.  There’s plenty of parking up top and a short walk to the ultra-fine white sand.  There are bathrooms, showers, covered picnic areas and a burger shack just up from the beach.  But that’s not the important part.

Hapuna State Park

Hapuna is gorgeous.  The sand runs up from the turquoise water to the green bushes that grow along the coastline.  (Snorkling tip:  The leaves of the beach naupaka plant, which grows along a lot of the beaches, can be crushed and wiped on the inside snorkel masks to cut down on fogging.  It’s at least as effective as spitting.)  The bay is protected by lava outcroppings on either side that send the incoming waves crashing into the air.

Hapuna waves

Some people come for the swimming and snorkeling, but on wavy days they come for the boogie boarding.  Depending on the size of the waves and the strength of the current (marked on beach signs), the waves range from gentle for beginners, to expert only.

The past couple of days have been red flag days, meaning there’s the possibility of high surf.  With our little, drugstore boggie boards, we hit the waves until the lifeguard started announcing “advanced body surfers only” from her bullhorn.  It was pretty much great.  Dad ended up snapping a board, and I laughed like a little girl as the waves sailed me through the air and then brought me bouncing down into the surf – over and over again.

Serious boogie boarders - serious

Yup, we were cool.

After a morning of such rigorous activity, we were pretty much starving.  There’s something about a combination of sun, sand and surf that makes me ravenous.

One of our favorite places on the island is the town of Hawi.  Situated in North Kohala, Hawi is a super-charming look at old Hawaii.  For sports buffs, it’s also the turnaround for the bike portion of the Ironman.  We go there to browse the shops (there’s a great crystal shop there), eat ice cream on the main strip, and for lunch at the Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery.

Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery

The place was a hotel at the turn of the last century, and has a colorful history right out of the old west, starring horses, traveling workers and “ladies of the night”.

Bamboo specials

The food is great and the service is delightful.  My favorite is the Hawaiian veggie stir-fry.  I get it with tofu, Thai coconut sauce, and this year, whole wheat noodles.

Hawaiian stir fry at the Bamboo

I’m not much of a fan for fried tofu, but this stuff was perfect.  Fresh and slightly crispy, it had none of the sogginess that plagues badly done tofu.

Yesterday, the table also hosted a kalua pig (cooked in a pit, not with the liqueur) sandwich with pineapple slaw and waffle-cut fries, a mon chong fish-plate, and a quesadilla.

Kalua pig sandwich at the Bamboo Mon Chong plate at the Bamboo Quesadilla at the Bamboo

The menu provides tons of options – almost everything can be done with pork, chicken, fish or tofu – and the food itself is really tasty.

Directly across the street, is the Kohala Coffee Mill, a little complex that serves all manor of treats.

Kohala Coffee Mill

You can get Kona coffee and mac-nut ice cream at the parlor downstairs, or fudge samples and shave ice – the real kind that they shave right in front of you – upstairs.

Shaving of the ice

I need to have at least one ginormous shave ice during my trip to the island.  Yesterday was the day.  My favorite combo is two-flavor pina colada and peach.  The more traditional shops serve it with either ice cream or red beans in the bottom of the paper cone.  I like mine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Shave ice - yummy

Tasty.  The flavoring melts down to make a slushy, sugary smoothie in the bottom that can be sucked out with a straw.  Yummy.

Just up from Hawi is the village of Kapa’au, and the statue of Kamehameha the Great.

King K

The statue has a fantastical history, including the shipwreck and salvage that brought the statue here instead of Honolulu, it’s original destination.

From there, we headed up to the end of the road – literally.  The road through Hawi rings the island, except for the stretch where the Kohala mountains stretch up in great cliffs, and empty their rain-forests into the ocean.


The Pololu lookout provides exceptional views of the forest, cliffs and black-sand beach.

A trail at the end of the road leads down to the beautiful – and rugged – beach and a beautifully peacefully tree-covered area where you can listen to the crashing waves, and feel completely nestled into the island.  Yesterday we stayed at the top and watched as triumphant hikers emerged from the trailhead, grinning and sweating.

The island is pretty amazing.  Eleven of the world’s fifteen climate types can be found on the island.  Yesterday’s hour drive from Kohala to the Kona coast took us from dense rain forest that looked like it could be South America, and across high-desert that could put you in southern Idaho.  And then there’s the lava.  Great stretches of lava look like they’ve tumbled out of the earth yesterday, covering swaths of land in a black, rich blanket.  People create graffiti using pieces of coral, stark white on the lava background.  The island is simply beautiful.

Last night, after a long day of adventures, we settled in for dinner on the patio – the lanai.  Looking out over the lava and the golf courses, up into the hills around Mauna Kea and its observatories, we ate sushi, sweet potato pie, and haupia (coconut) cake.  We relived the day – and planned the next set of adventures.

Haupia and Sweet Potato

Tomorrow we’re heading around the island to Hilo and the volcano.  To the jungles and waterfalls.  And I’m sure to more food.  Always more food.

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January 29, 2010   2 Comments

Back in P-Land

After spending some time with my family in Idaho, I’m back in Portland for a bit.  You know Portland – the land of the super-yummy specialty restaurants.

Today, I had lunch with my friend Leo, who I hadn’t seen in months.  We planned to go to a deli for some grub and gab, but when we drove up to it, it was closed.  Fighting through the momentary fluster, Leo regrouped.  “How about the Red Bike?  You like fried egg sandwiches?”

Now, I’d never heard of the Little Red Bike Café but, as it so happens, I do enjoy fried egg sandwiches.  So, we made a course-correction and headed toward the smell of butter (always a safe option).

The café is cute.  Disguised as an unsophisticated walk-up counter kind of place, the café is anything but.

Red Bike counter

The first clue to this was the tea menu.  If a place has more than 10 types of tea on a special menu, it’s not unsophisticated.  If the tea comes in a tea press, it’s bordering on fancy.

Red Bike tea

We ordered a couple of sandwiches and sat down to talk about life.  (Leo and I always have a good time conspiring to find fantastic business ideas and meaningful spiritual journeys.)  But when they food arrived, I found myself totally distracted by the first bite.

Red Bike flat tire

I got something called the “flat tire”.  It had scrambled egg, cheese, aoli and veggie-bacon on a sesame bagel.  Super-yum.  When I ordered, I asked them to leave the bacon off.  Forgetting I was back in Portland, I was surprised when the guy behind the counter offered me veggie-bacon.  Yup, veggie-bacon.  That just about made my day, not because I like bacon, but because I was reminded of the coolness of Portland.  And, as the sandwich sat there, the aoli melted and coated the bread and egg.

Leo got something else – something with real bacon.

Red Bike ciabatta

This bad-boy was serious.  It had a fried egg, thick bacon and was on a ciabatta roll.  I didn’t even ask how it was, I was so consumed with mine, but it looked tasty and disappeared quickly.

The staff was extra-helpful and Portland-funky.  As I walked out, I looked back on the place and mused.

Little Red Bike Cafe

Every-so-often I forget how cool Portland is.  You don’t even have to look for incredible places to eat here.  I’ve never even heard of a restaurant that specializes in fried-egg sandwiches, but now I know where to go next time I’m craving one.

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January 13, 2010   2 Comments


A trip to see my family is a trip regulated by meals.  We’re planning lunch and dinner while eating breakfast.  My trip this Christmas was no exception.

The first meal I had with my parents was on the way back from the airport.  Dad was excited about a barbecue place, and I wasn’t so hungry, so we headed to some ranch-styled chain near the Boise mall.  I was still finding it difficult to figure out what to eat (a problem since my return to the states).  I thought a barbecue joint would probably have exactly one option for a vegetarian, which would make my choice easier, but this place had two – so I ordered both.

When we sat down at the table I laughed out loud.

BBQ roll

Along with several bottles of bbq sauce, Each table was outfitted with its own roll of paper towels – you know, just in case.  I ate about half of the salad and side of mixed veggies I ordered, and packed the leftovers home.

The next morning’s breakfast was much more exciting.  Like Portland, Ketchum has a number of really excellent restaurants.  Eating at restaurants I knew meant ordering from familiar menus.  This morning it was “Huevos Kneadery” at “The Kneadery”, a restaurant that has been around as long as I can remember.  Eggs (over-medium), black beans, cheese, salsa, avocado and sour cream in a tortilla or two occupied me as I remembered how to eat again.

Huevos Kneadery

The fresh cookies on the way out helped, too.

The following days were filled with several pizzas, frequent coffee outings (my dad likes to go every Wednesday and Friday when the local paper comes out), and fantastic home-cooked meals.  The most important of those meals was, and always is, Christmas dinner, when we have my mom’s ravioli.

There is a day sometime in November that is set aside for ravioli-making.  Mom gets out the food processor, the pasta-rolling machine, and her immense Formica cutting-board.  Dad sets aside the better part of the day to assist in the folding, cutting and crimping that will ensue.

Over the years, I’ve watched them assemble the pasta, and on occasion, have been allowed to help as well.  The making of the ravioli is serious business.  Everything from the amount of flour on the cutting board to the type of fork used to crimp the edges makes a difference in the way they turn out.  Mom, who grew up watching her grandmother hand-roll the pasta dough is a master.  Dad, the heir to a distinctly non-Italian, German tradition, has proven himself a capable helper.  I, however, have proven that I can push too hard with the fork, turning a well-crimped edge into pasta fringe.  I can whip up a darn good timbalo or saffron ricotta sauce, but the ravioli is an item I’ve yet to master.  I’m hoping to take on the challenge in the next year or so.

The ravioli come in two kinds on Christmas:  cheese and meat.  The cheese version is ricotta and spinach, and the meat is ground beef and spinach (correct me if I’m off, Mom).  Both are delicious, and until last year, Mom’s ravioli was one of the few exceptions to my vegetarianism.

In addition to the ravioli, Mom makes her sauce from scratch.  She starts with a roast – or two – tomato paste and sauce and other stuff, and lets it cook all day long.  One of the great treats of going home is walking into the house in the afternoon to the smell of the sauce simmering away.  From the time she was tall enough to lift the lid, my sister has been sneaking tastes.  First it was with string-cheese dipped into the deep red sauce.  More often now, it’s with bread – my mom’s excellent rolls if they’re available.

No, the sauce is not strictly vegetarian, but I remove as much of the meat particles as I can see, and remind myself that even the Dali Lama eats meat every other day.  I might eat only the cheese ravs, but I’m not willing to give up the sauce.

About an hour before dinner is served, the grand ravioli count begins.  A complex calculation takes place.  It includes the number of people in the room, their relative hungriness, as well as an evaluation of past performance on the part of the eaters.  Some kind of an algorithm is employed to tell my mom and dad exactly how many dozen meat and cheese ravioli should be brought from the basement freezer where they have been stored, spread in single layers, in plastic bags.

The ravs are big.  The squares measure about 3-4 inches on each side.  Cooking takes a while, and is done with extreme care and delicacy.  If one bursts, the parts are fished out to be tested, or added to the leftover bin.  Not much is ever wasted.  They are too precious.

There was one year my family didn’t spend at my parent’s house.  I had surgery, and my family came to Oregon for Christmas.  Along with presents, they packed ravioli and sauce in a cooler.  And there was a fabled year when mom sent a similar care package cross-country to her sister who was spending the holiday in Massachusetts.  Nothing interrupts the ravioli.

When it is time, the ravioli are brought to the table last, after everyone is seated, and remain in the center of the table, people passing plates to those sitting closest, and calling out orders “2 meat and 3 cheese!”


When the ravioli are made, they are marked.  They are pierced one way with a fork for cheese and another for meat.  Even though they are placed on separate ends of the platter, the markings can help with identification.  And Identification is something of an art at the dinner table.  “That’s a cheese.”  “No, it’s a meat.”  “Give it here and I’ll find out.”  The cheese seem to flatten out while the meat poof up ever so slightly.  It’s more of a parlor game to see who can identify them the best.  Nobody is really disappointed if they end up with the wrong kind on their plate, and I can always find someone to take a stray meat rav off my hands.

In my mind, there are three things that must accompany the ravioli – aside from cheese, I mean that’s just a given: a great crystal bowl of sauce and meat, just in case; my mom’s rolls (they are super-tasty, but super-sticky to make); and olives.  Pitted, extra-large, black olives are always passed around the table for my mom, aunt, sister and me to put on our fingers and wave around briefly before devouring them.  There are always other things on the table for Christmas.  A ham was incorporated into the meal when my brother-in-law was incorporated into the family.  A few slices are eaten, but the main attraction is the ravioli.

We each have our own ways of eating them.  I favor a quadrant approach.  I carefully cut each rav into four, square pieces.  They are perfect bite-sizes (pretty much the size of your average store-bought ravioli).  That way each bite has the same proportion of dough to filling.  It is a tradition of rituals, and the method of eating is a deeply personal one.  (I’d never think of criticizing the way someone eats their ravioli.)  There are others, however, that are distinctly communal.

As the eating begins, so does the counting.  A close accounting is kept, and regular reports made to the table, as though the number of raviolis a person eats secretly determines whether they will get into heaven.  There are great ravioli controversies surrounding the most consumed by one person at my mother’s table.  There is a legend of a guest eating 21 in a sitting.  I was there for the alleged incidentt, as was nearly everyone else in my family, but over the years the number has become so fuzzy that none of us knows  exactly what happened that night.  (It wasn’t Christmas, so I’m pretty sure the accounting wasn’t as critical.)  I know that I, personally, have maxed out at 14 ravioli, and my aunt at 12, because we were competing one year.  (I won.)  But, in a sane year like this one, I stopped at 6 and had room for pumpkin and apple pie.

Every year someone exclaims the ultimate praise, “I think these are the best you’ve ever made!”  Most years, Mom smiles kindly and goes back to eating – the ravs are always good.  But some years, she looks down at the piece on her fork, studies it carefully, and nods her head, “they really are good this year, aren’t they.”  And then one of us will pass a plate calling out “I want that meat one right there – no there.  Thanks!” as another of us waves an olive-laden finger in the air.

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January 6, 2010   1 Comment