Dining in the Sky

My Mother, June Diane Alois, died June 19, 2006.

As this sad anniversary approaches, I reminisce about her food and how it influenced my life. There are two main points on the subject; I began cooking when she worked full time and went to college at night and I wanted her to come home to a hot meal. The second is that I was interested in cooking because her repertioire left me thinking food could be better. Despite this, her food and her love gave me a career.

She was great at making My-T-Fine chocolate pudding. Whether in a graham cracker shell for a pie or just in a ceramic bowl, pudding was serious business. When I was cranky (often) she made me pudding in a cloud - a cool whip lined bowl with pudding in the center.

She was a master at making chicken cutlet parm with pasta in only half an hour. Put water on to boil - fry cutlets - assemble parm - drop pasta into water - put chicken in oven - serve. The original 30 minute maven.

She made me breakfast everyday before school whether I wanted it or not. It was never too complicated, usually an english muffin or a Lender's bagel, and I never appreciated it at the time. When I was very little she used to make me scrambled eggs and when I tired of eating them I shoved them in the couch. No kidding. Gross, I know.

She made great coffee despite never drinking it. She made it every morning for Mary and I before going off to Seth Low junior high and on weekends.

In elementary school when I came home for lunch everyday, she would go to the Italian grocery to get a fresh semolina knot roll for my sandwich, usually bologna and american cheese. I ate this same bologna and cheese with a granola bar and capri sun juice pouch through junior high.

On the first day I met the Captive Husband, it happened to be Sunday so she made her meatballs and gravy. That night we shared the first of many wonderful meals together and it began with her cooking.

She cooked beef until it resembled the gray of cement. When we lived in Arizona far away from any Italian food she attempted to make pizza with only the Kraft green cylinder can cheese. I never had pizza before and thought I never wanted it again.

She loved zucchini bread and spinach pie. She bought one or the other to all events that required her to contribute food.

I loved listening to her tell stories of her grandmother, Grace Parente, cooking. Rice balls coated in corn flakes and homemade pasta laid on the bed to dry. On Sundays when she was a little girl she would walk to Coney Island with my uncle and great grandfather to get Italian bread. My uncle always ate the end on the way home.

She gave me my KitchenAid stand mixer as an early Christmas present so that I could make oodles of Christmas cookies. The food processor was a gift when I began culinary school. She could barely put gas in her car but she gave me lots of appliances.

She was also the first to clean behind me in the kitchen. No small task, especially then. I am much better at cleaning as I go now. I'm still bad at it, so imagine what it was like in 1996.

I would give anything for a bologna sandwich right about now. I hope there's zucchini bread in heaven.


Millicent said...

What a lovely post in honor of your mom! It reminded me of how Moms & food memories walk hand in hand. I reached your blog through that of my daughter (Food Musings), & I am so glad I did!

HungryChic said...

Thank you, and welcome! Food Musings and Gastronomie inspired me to blog. Food is such a factor in my life that many memories I have of loved ones include food in some way. It's hard to describe the void in my life without my Mom except to talk about her food. She also made the best meatballs.