Some things have happened in my life lately that have brought the word "family" front and center. So I've been thinking about the commonalities food and family share. I think there's so many. There's definitely "the good", "the bad" and the plain 'ole just "ugly!"
Have you ever gone to the Food Network website and in the search bar entered the word "family?" I'm sure you're all thinking....Um, no Lisa, I sure haven't! (lol) Well, go do it! It's kah-ray-zee! There's four hundred twenty eight plus pages of recipes. I kid you not. Did you get that? Four hundred twenty eight plus pages of recipes when you enter the word "family" in the Food Network search bar.
So let's start with "the good."
Well, hot dogs are good. My trips to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with my Pappy (where I ate I think hundreds of hot dogs with mustard only over the years) were good. The times I had to stand in front of the wooden "character" to see if I was tall enough to get on The Jack Rabbit roller coaster and was turned away Summer after Summer ....not so good. Me coming home and telling my Mother that I was so upset because, once again, I couldn't ride The Jack Rabbit roller coaster and her saying, "Oh Lisa Margaret - that park will probably be closed before you're tall enough" ....not so good. It was that Summer I began to seriously question my mother's communication skills.
Bananas are good. My memory of me falling off my tricycle in Pappy's driveway and him rushing out with a banana to "comfort me" is good because he was there to help me and to make everything okay. It's also pretty funny - I can remember it like it was yesterday. I mean, who gives a child a banana to make them stop crying? A Popsicle I can see. A banana vs. a Popsicle? ...not so good. It was okay though because Pappy could do no wrong in my eyes.
Limes are good. Me picking limes off the tree in our backyard in Brazil when I was 9 and taking them into the kitchen where I proudly handed them over to our maid, Luisa, where she promptly cut them in half, dipped them in sugar, and gave them back to me to suck all the juices out of ....that was good. Now, the ulcers my lime obsession gave me....not so good. The trip to the Doctor I had to make with my Mother yelling at me all the way from our house to the Doctor's office about how my self induced lime mouth ulcers were going to make my tongue fall off as she weaved in and out of traffic like a blindfolded Mario Andretti, with hair resembling a prickly porcupine (because I woke her from a nap to tell her my mouth was bleeding) ...not so good. Not so good at all. Again, lack of communication skills comes to mind. The word crazy also comes to mind. These were lime induced mouth ulcers. I had not given myself Lyme disease.
The English pea is bad. It's mushy. It smells. The entire concept of the English pea is just b-a-d. Me picking all the cherry tomatoes off the vines and eating them (and I do mean all of the cherry tomatoes) when we lived in Iowa and then telling my Dad the crows ate them as I showed him my palms and said, "See, no seeds on my hands Dad!" ...that was bad. The spanking that followed directly after on my bare bottom with the wood paddle....that was bad. The fact I had a very hard time sitting still in my hard wood chair at school the next day and being sent to the Principal's office because I finally told my teacher, "I won't sit down. I'm going to have to stand." ...not so good. Me coming home that day with a note from the Principal....not so good. My parents making me eat tomatoes every night with dinner for what seemed like an eternity ...not so good. I ate my Dad's tomatoes. I did not eat Fred, the family fish.
Liver is bad. I cannot eat what is an organ inside myself. Yes, I know these are two totally different liver concepts but, really, it's just gross. My memory of my parents telling me we were having Popeye's chicken for dinner one night when we lived in Mobile, Alabama (and boy oh boy was I excited!) and then they came home with coleslaw, biscuits, dirty rice and no chicken - just chicken livers...that was bad. That was really bad. It was like being a kid at Christmas and all of your presents were socks. Really bad. Seriously, isn't that comparable to cruel and unusual punishment?
Mushrooms are ugly. They really are. Go look at a mushroom. Don't misunderstand - I love mushrooms. I love all mushrooms. I can eat mushrooms out of a jar with a fork as Chris stands there looking at me like I have 3 heads. But, I'm sorry, they're just ugly. And what about those fresh mushrooms the grocery store leaves out way longer than is safe for human consumption and they've turned a shade of brown that would be suspect if it was on the bottom of your shoe? Ugly. Seriously ugly. The memory of my Mom cooking all day for a dinner party she was hosting when I was in high school - sauteed mushroom & tomato bruschetta, mushroom lasagna with her homemade fresh herb marinara & salad topped with oyster mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers - and then her discovering all 12 people hated mushrooms ....that was ugly. Seriously ugly. How do I remember this so vividly you may be asking yourself? Well, I can assure you anyone that was within a 10 mile radius of our house at No. 11 Woodstock Court that night vividly remembers it. It was ugly. Seriously ugly.
So how about a good recipe! How about something simplistically good. Something fresh. Something crunchy. Something slap-yo-mama good. Below is my recipe for Jerusalem Salad! I love it! It's good! It's really good!
LISA's JERUSALEM SALAD
1 English cucumber
3-4 vine ripened tomatoes (or Roma tomatoes or grape tomatoes)
1/2 purple onion (diced)
1 large handful of fresh parsley - chopped
3 garlic cloves - minced
3-4 tosses of salt (salt to taste)
10-12 turns of pepper (pepper to taste)
juice of 1 lemon
In a large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together. Let the salad macerate for 30 minutes - you can pop it in the fridge or not - up to you. I love this over couscous. I love it on grilled chicken. I love it plain. I love it! It's good! It's really good!
Always "Push The Parsley!"
~ A Girl Cook