Chicken Soup for the Sicilian Soul!

My favorite photo of the two of us, taken around 1990.

My favorite photo of the two of us, taken around 1990.

My mother, may she rest in pizza, (and, trust me, she’d love that…as it was her favorite meal, or non-meal, according to my father), was funny.   She was not funny on purpose, and certainly not by design, but, rather, by default.  She simply did and said things we found funny.  Sometimes she got annoyed with us because she thought we were laughing at her, when, in truth, we were laughing with her…nah, we were laughing at her.  But, decidedly, with love, much love.

One Sunday morning, my sister Rosemary and I, long since out on our own, were on the phone when we suddenly decided to surprise our folks with a visit.  We agreed to meet at their house about two in the afternoon. Soon after we arrived, a female cousin and a couple of other friends showed up too, uninvited.   Unexpected company was never my mother’s favorite kind of surprise, unless, of course, they came bearing a two-pound box of Russell Stover’s chocolate-covered nuts.

As it turned out, we were five women altogether, and, of course, my father.  As the afternoon wore on, being Italian, our thoughts naturally turned to food. Knowing we had not been expected, and that my mother did not enjoy cooking, (contrary to the popular myth about Italian women), I suggested we all help to make dinner.  Mom was clearly relieved.  She said she had the fixings for chicken soup, so I assigned the various tasks. My sister would cut up the chicken, my cousin and friends would cut up the vegetables, and I would put it all in the pot and season it.   (My basic recipe was for my mother’s chicken soup, but over the years I added lemon juice, fresh garlic and corn on the cob…added the last twenty minutes; the last ten of which, I add orzo macaroni. Are you writing this down?)

When it came time to put the lemon juice in, I asked my mother for a cheese cloth so I could strain the juice into the pot without getting the pits in the soup. She said she didn’t have a cheese cloth, and brought me, instead, a large, white man’s handkerchief, which worked perfectly.

As we sat down to eat, and Dad took his first spoonful, I remarked, “Isn’t this nice! A lovely meal that we all helped to create, even you, Dad. We used one of your handkerchiefs to strain the lemon juice.”  My mother quickly interjected, “That was NOT your father’s handkerchief, it was the one I put in the crotch of my girdle to keep it clean.”

Well….chicken soup spewed all over the dining room table as we all cracked up.  Mom, of course, had no clue what was so funny!  When we tried to explain, she said,  “You didn’t seem to have a problem knowing he had blown his nose in it!  I just don’t get you girls.”

That was my Mama!

And that, short and sweet, as was my Mom, is my blog entry for today. Mangia!


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