Wednesday, November 14, 2018

HOMING INSTINCT


Simply awful
White Anglo Saxon Protestant cuisine is closely
akin to it's moniker. In that it's bland, mushy, and
horrifically boring. Growing up in a WASP home,
everything we consumed looked, felt, and tasted
the same. The highlight of any meal was it's end.
Dessert. My Mom's menu planning consisted of
a regular rotation of tried and oft failed favorites.
Hence every seven days we sat down to a roast
beef, roast chicken, broiled (burned) lamb or pork
chops, plus the occasional baked ham. All were
accompanied by mounds of mush that had once
been some variety of canned vegetable. That plus
baked or mashed potatoes or a random dumpling.
Show time
Once deemed old enough I was allowed to join
my parents each night in the dining room. An
elegant affair with china, fine linen, crystal,
flowers, and candlelight. Plus my mother all
dolled up in a lovely frock. To this day I have
warm memories of those evenings at our table.
Yet like any victim of abuse I can't remember
what we ate. In hindsight the evening meal's
pomp and circumstance had a motive. Which
was to distract us from the mediocre mess set
before us. Somehow I struggled through. Quite
glad once it was cleared away and I could ask
to be "excused" from the table.
Foreign intrigue
Like most Americans my Mother's culinary
pursuits evolved with the times.Therefore at
times she could get quite "exotic." However
what was dished out often had no relation to
the real thing. When it came to French food
it wasn't quite as risky. Ethel loved quiche.
So long before it was fashionable, we would
dish one out for Sunday supper. During the
summer ratatouille was another staple. Made
from fresh goodies picked at the farm stand
or from our garden. We occasionally went to
Spain via saffron rice or a starter course of
canned black bean soup (laced with sherry).
Boot camp
However  Italy was Mom's worst destination.
Her spaghetti recipe was canned tomato juice,
dry spaghetti, sugar, and a dash of some herbs
blasted in the pressure cooker. The end result
a gluey goo Ethel proudly claimed "tastes just
like Franco American!" Another specials was
"Spaghetti Pie." A mix pre-cooked spaghetti
and cottage cheese dumped into a pie plate.
Then smothered in jarred pasta sauce. Next
sprinkled with shredded mozzarella. Baked
in a hot oven until dry. No wonder to this day
I struggle with anything covered in classic
"red" sauce. I may have been scared for life!
Italian stallion
Who knew that I'd marry two Italians?!
Both with mothers where were fabulous
cooks armed with an arsenal of beloved
family recipes. Nor that Rome would be
one of my favorite places on earth. In the
years since my dearly departed Mother's
attempts at Italian cookery, I've eaten the
most amazing things. Hand made pasta
coated in cream and covered with shaved
white truffles. Or Vitello Tonnato - paper
thin slices of veal smothered in a delicate
sauce made from canned tuna. Or Osso
Buco! My favorites list goes on and on!
Together forever
We all evolve. Yet as we age, our past tends to
return with a vengeance. Which must be why
I've returned to my culinary heritage. Not a
week passes with at least one of our meals is
a blast from my past. From shepherd's pie,
to chicken pot pie, to pot roast, to a perfectly
roasted chicken. All which seem new again
and taste even better than I remember. In the
end I've discovered why they call it comfort
food. Once set upon the table, it's almost as
if my Mom and Dad have also joined us for
dinner. And for at least a few minutes we all
reunite around the dinner table once more.


"Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire!"
No matter where you go or turn, you'll always end up at home.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

THE DIFFERENCE IS YOU...



Human resources
Lately I've been thinking. Which can either be
a good or a bad phenomena. If nothing else it's
times like these that make me philosophical. I
step back and consider things from a different
perspective. However figuring life out is never
as easy as one assumes. Especially as it seems
that the rest of humanity is focused on anything
but common sense. Inevitably life is full circle.
Which is why it's helpful to consider the now
from a historical context. You see, we human
beings are all too human. Meaning that even if
we've been there, done that. We do to it again.
And again. And again. We can't help ourselves.
Natural phenomena
Bigotry and prejudice may in theory be taught.
However hatred, pettiness and piety are natural
phenomena. Almost every human assumes they
are the under dog. That for some reason every
one is against them. However is that actually
true? Or are we in truth our own worst enemies?
That's the reality that I confront on a daily basis.
Hence we've no one to blame but ourselves. Yet
that's the last thing anybody likes to admit. So
instead we do whatever it takes to hand over all
responsibility for the error of our ways to others.
Which only defers our inevitable day of karmic
reckoning. What goes around... comes around...
Repeat performance
This past week world leaders gathered in Paris
to honor the one hundred year anniversary of
the end of World War One. Said august lineup
was a graphic caricature of human frailty. And
hence in essence, a repeat performance. That's
because somehow over the last century we've
forgotten the who, what, when, and why which
drove the civilized world to battle. Even more
troubling, we opt to ignore all of the warning
signs that indicate such a disaster could easily
reoccur. But what is most disturbing is that the
greatest threat to our democracy seems to be
our President himself. Yet who's to blame?!
Battle fatigue
What's most humbling is that I'm certain that my
worries are exactly the same as my parents and
their parents before them. Hence in truth every
generation confronts highs and lows, good times
and bad, war and peace. No wonder I wonder...
Where is nirvana? Has there ever truly been
"peace within our time? Recently I created a
list of events in my parent's lifetimes. And the
results were anything but pretty. My Dad lived
through World Wars One and Two, the Korean
War, the Cold War, Vietnam, Gulf War, a bit of
Afghanistan, and dozens of confrontations in
between. HIs life was a never ending battle.
Crisis management
Meaning that in reality, the United States has
been involved in some form of warfare on a
daily basis since the end of World War One.
Add an endless stream of terrorist attacks on
domestic soil spanning the last one hundred
years. Then the assassinations of JFK, MLK,
and Bobby Kennedy. Don't forget the battle
for civil rights, Roe versus Wade, Watergate,
the oil crisis, ERA, gay marriage. All as they
embraced automobiles, airplanes, electricity,
radio, TV, video, the internet, cellular phones.
Endured the Great Depression and all sorts of
booms or busts. The challenges were endless.
You and you alone
History proves that during our parent's lifetimes
nobody was safe from financial threats, politics,
war, terrorism, prejudice, hate, abuse, or natural
disasters. Plus hindsight indicates the same for
us. Hence external phenomena aside - we are all
responsible for our own happiness and success.
We choose who we love, laugh, and live with on
a daily basis against all odds. Our problems are
NO different than generations before us. They
struggled as much as we do or more so. Turmoil
is a basic component of our human experience.
It is what it is and always will be. So rather than
complain, DEAL WITH IT.

Monday, November 12, 2018

MORE OR LESS?!



Secrets of success
Fame is fleeting at best. However the older
I get, the more I'm amazed at how few truly
stellar celebrities there are. People who by
their very presence dazzled. And still have
the talent to engage multiple generations of
"fans." However as I write, there are a few
modern day exceptions. Consider Meryl
Streep with twenty one Academy Award
nominations and three Oscars to her credit.
Or Jane Fonda who looks fabulous at eighty
years young. Leaving me to wonder if Lady
Gaga or Beyonce will also have comparable
staying power. What makes a star a star?!
Two were better than one
Many of the stars who've left big impressions
on me are now long forgotten. George Burns
and Gracie Allen were amongst the funniest
entertainers in my lifetime. And while Gracie
was gone all too early, I knew her well through
reruns of The George Burns and Gracie Allen
Show. Back then there were all sorts of funny
couples. Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone,
Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and of course Ricky
(Desi Arnez) and Lucy (Lucille Ball). All who
were married on and off stage. And all who if
nothing else were examples of domestic bliss.
And hence paradigms by which to live by.
Star power
Everybody was rather stereotypical. Each
played a role within society at large. Given
there was no such thing as "reality TV" we
didn't know who they really were. Nor any
of their faults, struggles, highs, and lows.
Part of me thinks that was actually a good
thing. In part because we all had somebody
to look up to. Stellar examples of what life
could be like. And even if it all was a farce
at least we had something to hope for. A
higher plane which while unattainable gave
us something to strive for. Pushing each and
everyone of us to be and do our best.
Shooting stars
Obviously fantasy rarely becomes reality. Most
of the stars we looked up to had darker sides.
Some were drunks. Others addicts, Many in
fact were terrible parents. Or serial cheaters.
However the bulk of their issues were handled
far outside of the public arena. Hence few if
any knew their truths. The question is whether
that was a good or bad thing. Could it be that
we now know too much? Has our quest for
candor, openness, and truth created a context
that nobody can rise above? Has exposing the
wrong in our world made it worse? Usurping
the good in us by exploiting the bad instead?
T.M.I.
In olden times the less said... the better. Don't
get me wrong, I'm all for acceptance, equality,
and diversity. However just because I'm gay
doesn't mean you need to know everything
about me. Some things should remain private.
And thus NONE of your business. The fact is
there can be too much of a good thing. In our
quest for truth we may be creating an almost
intolerable situation. One within which even
the best of us will never be perfect enough for.
Are we destined for failure? Maybe it's time to
share a bit less and leave well enough alone?
Enough already! Why can't we all dream big?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

7th Day Surprise: O.M.G.


THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO?!

Given their continued support of our disaster in chief -
One can't help but be amazed at how they
use the Bible as justification for their sins.

If nothing else
fundamentalist Christians
seem to be fundamentally flawed.

Their blurring of fantasy, doctrine, and reality
is beyond morally offensive.
Especially given they prefer to support
bigotry, piety, and prejudice.
Rather than love, kindness, and equality.

What Would Jesus Do?