July 30, 2008

Nothing Quite Like Mom's Cooking

You read that like it's a good thing. Alas, none of you will ever be subjected to Mama Fresh's cooking. I wish I could say the same.

Mama Fresh (I was going to abbreviate it to MF and thought better)... has many admirable qualities, but unfortunately, feeding her family is not one of them. Even more unfortunate, she thinks it is. Mama Fresh thinks she is Martha Stewart. Nobody sets a lovelier table than she does, this is true. Sadly, we wish for wax food more often than the real thing.

My uncle, brother, sister in law, spouse and kids have all invented a complicated system of taking turns tasting and then letting everyone else know safe or unsafe to the rest of the table. We must look like the 3rd base coach on a baseball team with our elaborate system of signals. My brother used to date a girl who undiplomatically announced during dinner, "Did you know that Pizza Hut delivers?"

There are a couple reasons that Mama Fresh is such a horrific cook. First, she believes that expiration dates are mere suggestions. I once cleaned out her refrigerator and found food that was over 10 years old. Additionally, the freezer is an excellent method of storing, thawing, and refreezing food repeatedly while the microwave can be used to reheat as many times as necessary. Modern marvels!

She also believes that the porch is an excellent place to store food that doesn't fit in the refrigerator, even if it's 70 degrees outside. She also has dogs and cats. Sometimes they sample the food, and they also come and shed all over the floor and counters where the food is prepped. Mama seemingly once ran out of water. Therefore, she has a murky container of ice cold dishwater in the sink to clean the dishes. Do not DUMP THE WATER is her warning along with a story about not wanting to clog the drain, etc.

A few years back, I bought her a dishwasher that would "sterilize and save her some work", but "I live alone, why would I use that?" was her reply. The only time it gets used is AFTER we've attempted to dine there. When Mama suggested this family meal, I suggested, "Why not let US do the work and everyone bring something?" (That has worked in the past)... Or maybe we could just all meet at a restaurant and then nobody has to do anything.

My uncle almost squeezed my eyeballs out when he hugged me in gratitude, but knew we were powerless to stop Mama Fresh from cooking when she wants to.

"She has a wooden spoon and knows how to use it".

I never thought I would long for the days when her idea of using it was to smack our behinds. Mama Fresh also believes that a fancy garnish is all glop needs to make it edible. So she has flowers, herbs, spices, and swirls of sauces on every presentation plate. Like I said, it always looks good.

But it's either spoiled, overcooked, freezer burned, or missing an ingredient. We have perfected the art of pushing food around the plate, taking just a little bit, and claiming new food allergies all the time. We pass the flask of Immodium™ from person to person and bring snacks for the kids.

There is one saving grace Mama's cooking. If you suffer from constipation, one meal at Mama Fresh's will cure that. Norman Rockwell probably never conceived a family dinner quite like ours. I like to think Mama is just trying to recreate the Roman Feast ambiance.

I quote: "... in ancient times vomiting seems to have been a standard part of the fine-dining experience. In his Moral Epistles the Roman philosopher Seneca writes, Cum ad cenandum discubuimus, alius sputa deterget, alius reliquias temulentorum [toro] subditus colligit, "When we recline at a banquet, one [slave] wipes up the spittle; another, situated beneath [the table], collects the leavings of the drunks."

Bon app├ętit!


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