Of Food and Fixing It



photography by Bob Capazzo

Different foods mean different things to each of us. Lobsters remind me of lobster picnics on the rocky shores of Owl’s Head, Maine, where Jane and Tom Yates cooked them in a big pot over a bonfire and taught us how to crack them open with stones (no utensils allowed). Raspberries remind me of a night in my youth when our doorbell rang during dinner. My mother got up to answer it and there from an apartment above stood a tipsy woman who sailed right past her, sat down in Mother’s vacated chair, looked down at dessert and observed in a rawther British accent: “Rawsberries! How dahrling!”

Spinach reminds Jack of his childhood friend Stanley Woodward, son of F.D.R.’s Chief of Protocol. Young “Taney” hated the stuff so much that when he came for dinner, he’d always have to have honey to pour all over it. Cake now reminds me of Obama. While Jamison Stricker Skelli-Cohen and her young family were waiting patiently in line at the Marriott to have their picture taken with the President when he visited Stamford recently, she told three-year-old Charlie that if he said  “cheese” really nicely, they’d have cake afterwards. The little boy did beautifully, ending the shoot by asking our Commander in Chief, “Is it time for my big cake now?”

In eighth grade I made a cake with my friend Sandy Ross (now Herman, of Greenwich). The Black Watch plaid frosting was a work of art. Not so the zabaglione we made to impress our dates one night. Ever efficient, we beat together the egg yolks, sugar and Marsala well ahead of time and, of course, when we took it out of the fridge hours later, it had turned to water. Nothing in the world could fluff it up again.

My grandmother was a wonderful cook. As a kid I would run away from home (three blocks away) to her welcoming arms and Hungarian goulash dotted with caraway seeds. But my mother didn’t have much chance to experiment. As a longtime bachelor and traveling salesman, my father was wont to sending a meal back to the hotel kitchen if he didn’t like it. Once early on when he was sick in bed and out of sorts, Mother brought him dinner on a tray, eating her own at a desk nearby to keep him company. He apparently didn’t like the hot dog and sent it bouncing across her desk. Startled, but without hesitation, she winged it back, he ducked, and for years there remained a greasy wiener mark on the bedroom wall no paint could ever cover up.

But D-Day came the morning Dad left for the office without eating his scrambled eggs. Mother took his plate across the back hall to the apartment next door and asked their cook what was wrong with them. Berta tasted them and said; “Nothing, Mrs. Clegg, except they’re cold now.” “Berta,” my mother responded, “do you know anyone who would like to work for me?” “Yes,” said Berta. “I would.” And she hung up her apron there and became the first in our long series of cooks. That night when Dad came home and asked what was for dinner, my mother said, “I don’t know” (though she did). “Ask the cook.” From then on, all compliments or complaints went to The Cook—except Sunday, her day off, when Mother and I once inadvertently dropped a roast beef on the kitchen floor, quickly put it back on the serving platter and giggled while my father and brothers fought over who’d get the outside piece.

One of the first meals I ever attempted was Mrs. Pomeroy’s pot roast—California roast topped with dried onion soup mix and a can of mushroom soup, wrapped in foil and baked an hour a pound at 350°. Jack was duck hunting in Port Clinton and halfway through the cooking phoned to say he wouldn’t be home until midnight. I called Mrs. Pomeroy, panicked. “What do I do?” “Well, dear,” she replied, “the first thing you do is take it out of the oven. Then tomorrow night put it back in for the rest of the time.” Dummy me. But I got even. When Jack arrived with three ducks on a string, I made him hang them out the window of our fourth floor apartment. The next morning he told me he had a pressing business appointment and asked me to take them across town to the chicken pluckers so they’d be ready for dinner with my parents that night.

After Jack left, I called a taxi, told the driver to come upstairs, there was a package for him to deliver and it was hanging out the window. He was to take it to the pluckers on the West Side, wait while the ducks were cleaned, then drive them back to the East Side to my parents’ apartment. And, oh yes, charge it, please. The duck hunter got quite a bill.

Later in life, after my father had died and mother remarried, she learned to cook—sort of. Blessedly, Ellis would eat anything put in front of him. But Mother would call and ask me how to roast chicken or why the pumpkin ice cream came out such a weird consistency. “Just stick to the recipe,” I’d beseech her. “If it calls for half a can of pumpkin, don’t dump in the whole thing not to waste it.” I never could get her to use a salad spinner. She liked to blot each lettuce leaf between paper towels.

Well, I’m blessed, too, having married a guy who will eat just about anything I cook—gratefully even. Some women have all the luck.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • Financial Literacy 2-Day Lecture Presented by Bob Salomon at YMCA of Greenwich

    2014.10.21
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    Making sense of the world of finance FREE and open to all *Participants should pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal on Oct.22, as Bob...

  • YMCA of Greenwich Harvest Art Week

    2014.10.18
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    YMCA of Greenwich Harvest Art Week October 18 - 26, 2014 Join us for a week-long celebration of local art! Showcasing established and emerging...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Paint the Town Pink

    2014.10.21
     @ Lux Bond & Green

    Key to the Treasure Chest Indulge yourself at an elegant but fun event presented by Lux Bond & Green and Anne Fontaine Preview the newest...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Meet Nomi Eve, Author of Henna House

    2014.10.22

    An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth...

  • Susan G. Komen CT Educational Session at YMCA of Greenwich

    2014.10.22
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    FREE AND OPEN TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY! Learn about the importance of early detection and screenings Meet the men and women whose work is...

  • Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Networking Event

    2014.10.23
     @ Delamar Hotel

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce will hold its October After Six Networking event. All are invited to exchange business cards, enjoy appetizers and...

  • October After Six

    2014.10.23
     @ Delamar Hotel

    Join us for After Six Networking at the Delamar Hotel

  • Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

    2014.10.23

    Athome Magazine celebrates Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams' fall collection with fabulous vignettes from some of your favorite A-List designers....

  • Oktoberfest 2014 Greenwich United Way

    2014.10.24
     @ Loading Dock

    Greenwich United Way’s sixth annual “Oktoberfest” fundraiser is set for Friday, October 24 at Stamford’s Loading...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • The Food Network Open Casting Call for Home Cooks

    2014.10.25
     @ My Cooking Party

    FOOD NETWORK’S TOP CELEBRITY CHEFS ARE SCOURING THE NATION IN SEARCH OF AMAZING HOME COOKS! You’ve watched them on TV, bought their...

  • Greenwich Hospital Gala

    2014.10.25
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    It will be a Gala worthy of a doge when retiring Greenwich Hospital president and CEO, Frank A. Corvino, will be presented with the...

  • The Wilton Fall Antiques Market

    2014.10.26
     @ Wilton High School Field House

    Barnstar Productions and the Wilton Historical Society will present the Wilton Antiques Market. More than 80 exhibitors are expected to...


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