Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 7: The Stuffing War

                         Aunt Ann, Grandmom and Mom                                                     

My mother could not cook and I was told that when she and dad first married, my maternal grandmother would come over and cook the meal while my father was at work. Eventually, Fred found out about the old switch-a-roo and Lucy had to start cooking on her own.

This led to many strange culinary nightmares while my siblings and I grew up. One day, I’ll tell you about the invasion of the cake batter that ate Philadelphia, but for now, I’ll stick with the stuffing story.
 I guess different sections of Italy make food differently and my father’s family was from Rome and my mother’s from Naples. My father thought he could cook; he couldn’t. My mother cooked but she didn't enjoy it and thus the daily culinary adventures that her four children experienced.
One Thanksgiving, my father and mother got into a big argument about the correct way to make stuffing. We four kids were upstairs (probably doing something that we shouldn’t) and knew right away this was going to be a Thanksgiving meal that should be avoided at all costs. The ‘War of the Gravy’ still had us hiding under our beds every time my mother opened a can of crushed tomatoes. Yes, that kind of gravy, or what the non-Italians call spaghetti sauce.
When mom called us down for lunch, we sat at one end of the table eating while mom was at the counter chopping and dicing ingredients for her stuffing and my father was doing his own culinary preparation at the other side of the counter; they were arguing the whole time.
“You don’t know shit about stuffing,” my mother yelled.
 "And, you do" dad countered.                                              
Ah, yes, the happy sounds of holiday cheer surrounded us four kids as we ate our baloney sandwiches. “We need to scram,” I whispered to my siblings. We made good our escape and headed back to the roof where we played firemen and space aliens. But...even on the roof we could hear bits and pieces of their continuing argument which centered around the ingredients each used in that damn stuffing. This was to be a long day for the Maratea spawn.                                             
We only had the one turkey, so I was curious as to how and where they were stuffing this bird with two different stuffing. They found a way; mom took the bottom half and dad the, neck; what didn't fit into the neck went into a little pan to cook next to the turkey.
When it was time to eat, the four of us kids walked down the stairs and to the kitchen like a man walking to the gallows. We had seen this scene played out before with several of their culinary wars. The table was set and soon the turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, strings beans and two bowls of stuffing were placed on the table.                                                                    
My mother scooped a heaping spoon of her stuffing on each of our dishes with my father doing the same with his stuffing. “Which one tastes better?” my father and mother asked simultaneously.
My siblings and I laugh about that day, but it wasn’t funny at the time it was happening. We couldn’t choose; wouldn’t take sides; so we remained silent while the two argued over the stuffing. To tell you the truth, both stuffing tasted exactly the same. Side note: Over the years my mother learned to cook gourmet meals and even my father's cooking improved. But, I still get flashbacks to that day every year as I prepare stuffing for my Thanksgiving meal. Maybe, that's the reason I down a glass of wine, before I start the preparations. Hope your Thanksgiving was great and stay safe, healthy and happy. Love you all.
Next week’s blog will be about one of my father’s funniest practical jokes, ever.

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