Tweezer Bones & Skeletons

Every family has their little secrets. Some are 'skeletons in the closet' type of secrets, and some are well, just to hide the little insanities that brew within. I'll start out by saying I love my mom. I'm definitely a "mama's girl", and at the risk of being yelled at, I have to come out and let others know about her little quirks. (I have mine as well which I will list.)  I wasn't going to write about this until I paid her a little visit this morning while my oldest sister was there enjoying coffee and muffins with her. We started talking about how the in laws on my sister's side loves our family and thinks we're "normal", compared to what they have seen. We're quite the opposite and very dysfunctional in a way which I wouldn't change one thing about it. I find it a blessing. It gives us hours of laughter. When I walked inside the kitchen area, mom and my sis offered me a muffin. My mom keeps a pile of little paper plates just in case there are little appetizers or goodies on the counter. "Here Deb, take the second plate. I know you." And she does. I never take the top plate. Automatically I think dust & possible dust mites. It's just my OCD manias that kick in. But at least it's understood. Mom's always piling food onto our plates. Mom however, sometimes doesn't use a plate. I'll find a muffin or part of a bagel half eaten on the kitchen counter - no plate whatsoever - not even a napkin. She throws caution to the wind and figures that her counters are clean enough. Kudos.

Moving on...

Let me just take you a few years back when Madelene and I had taken both my parents to a vacation in the Hamptons. I wanted to treat them since they treated me their entire life. I wanted to give them everything. I went off to Gossman's Fish Market and bought a ton of salmon that could have fed an army and some homemade clam chowder that they make right on the spot that's to die for. I was planning to bake the salmon with some garlic and lemon, served with a nice Chardonnay. As I was preparing the fish, I noticed that it wasn't filleted well enough. My father, being that he worked his ass off at the South Street Seaport filleting fish since he was a kid would fix this problem, but mom said, "Oh don't worry, those are just tweezer bones. I got it."  And she's actually pretty good at filleting herself. Then she asked, "Deb, do you mind if I try cooking it? I can make it with the garlic and lemon that you like," and of course, I let her because she loves cooking just as much as I do. Anyway, after a delicious meal overlooking the Atlantic ocean in our beach house, we were ready to retire after gorging ourselves with coffee and cake. Madelene and I were putting away the dishes and I went upstairs before she did. When Mad walked into the bedroom, she said, "Deb, I never heard of tweezer bones before. Where exactly are they located?" Trusting and relying on my parents' extensive seafood knowledge, I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "I don't know." Then Mad held up something shiny. When my eyes focused a bit more on them, I noticed they were a pair of tweezers. My mom's tweezers! She used these to filet the fish?

Back to present time: this morning. Today I am excited to make my eggplant parmesan for my niece's communion. You always have to make this a day before, because you know what all Italians say, right? "It's betta' the next day."  So today I will be cutting, slicing, frying, stacking - it'll be fun. I love doing it.   My mom used to be the queen of the eggplant project. Nobody can make it better than her. Ever since dad got sick and mom being emotionally & physically exasperated throughout this entire ordeal, she's no longer able to endure huge projects like these --- although with help she can definitely kick it into high gear. But I figured, I kind of cook like mom (a healthier version mind you), so why not. With "healthier" I mean, frying with olive oil instead of Crisco. Nobody knew that little tidbit. They also didn't know why mom's veggies were so damn good. After two large sticks of real butter, even week old possum tastes delicious. It's a cooking law for some. Anyway, back to mom.  Any time I make a dish that she knows she can do better, she wants 'in'. "Well let me make the gravy." (Italian marinara for those who aren't familiar with the term gravy to describe sauce.) "No ma, I got it. Really." Then she tries another method. "Here, you can use my pan. Come get it." I thank her and let her know I have a pan that cooks everything even. No worries. As we were all sitting at the counter having coffee and muffins, she makes her final offer on the eggplant project. "Here Deb, I have something that'll help you peel the eggplant."  As she says this, she is walking into her bathroom. "Ma! No! I got this!" 

I really, really love her. I hope after this post, she doesn't disown me for ratting her out.

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