Pinch of Salt
It was with wondering eyes that I read the Indy’s “Local Chefs Celebrate Loved Ones with Holiday Traditions.” Six area chefs reminisced about family recipes that they hold dear and recreate during the holidays. It was a heartfelt story on how lost loved ones are remembered by the wonderful food they created many years ago. I couldn’t help but wipe away a tear, sigh loudly, and wonder why I never got any recipes from loved ones to carry on. All I have are foggy memories of eating out and people fighting with one another to avoid picking up the check.
Because I was a kid at the time, I wasn’t involved in these check dustups. But there were other meal traditions I’ve carried on with my children. I’ve kept up with these favorite holiday expressions: “Don’t eat with your mouths opened reindeers;” “Elf elbows off the table;” “Sit up straight Grinches;” “No you can’t do Jello shots;” and a new holiday favorite of mine, “Here’s the check, kid. And don’t tell me you don’t have a paper route to pay the tab because there aren’t any newspapers. I wasn’t born yesterday. There’s a ton of money in schlepping fake news.”
I was taught at a young age to eat what was put in front of me. My strongest food memory is gefilte fish. Readers unfamiliar with this fish dish should count themselves lucky. It’s a fishy fish that never swam in schools because the other fish couldn’t stand their smell. Gefilte fish had to be homeschooled by only mothers who could love them. On behalf of the entire food chain, I say it is impossible to be around them, let alone eat them, without being armed with heaps of covering horseradish sauce followed by chugging mega glasses of puckering sweet Mogen David wine. Otherwise, you will be haunted by a holiday dish served to you by loved ones, who could not have really loved you, if they insisted that their memory be based on this smelly dish. (My Yelp review)
Area chefs seem to have better memories than mine. Mothers and grandmothers are remembered for a variety of dishes. There are half-moon-shaped stuffed pastas called Varenyky, fondly-remembered gingerbread houses, and impossible-to-put-down homemade tamales, to name just a few. And the chefs have been kind enough to share their family recipes. I looked them over and I’ve decided to steal the recipes, and make them mine. Also, I’ll be making ingredient changes to my family’s smelly dish… “Lick a pinch of salt, down a shot of Jose Cuervo, bite a lime and adopt a cat to eat the gefilte fish.”
Crantz tells the Indy that actually there aren’t any holiday dishes in the family. However, holiday drinks are a different matter, but hard to remember to pass down.