Chicken Parm

When I was young, chicken parm was my favorite meal. I got it whenever I went out to eat. I liked it so much that my mom even made it for me on my birthdays. (which happens to be tomorrow…) As I got older and more into the food world, I started to shrug off chicken parm as cheesy Italian-American fare. Something these so-called Italian restaurants serve to the masses. Places that lay on thick accents, but the food doesn’t resemble anything you would find in Italy. I try as hard as I can not to be snobby about food. Food is something that everyone shares, and if you are a snob about it, you will find yourself eating foie gras and sea urchin alone in a corner somewhere crying into your chilled melon and prosciutto soup(mmmsalty tears). If you set too many limits on your diet and only eat things people deep in the foodie world consider appropriate or acceptable, you may end up missing out on the best meal of your life! Last week I ate chicken parm for the first time in probably 4 years. I am sorry chicken parm and I hope you find it in your tenders to accept me back.

1100 Tortellini!

Tortellini soup has been a Christmas Eve tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. My Mom would buy 8 bags filled 100 tortellini each from a little old Italian woman who lived across town. When she called each year she would have to mention my Grandfather and I think there was even a secret password involved. The bags only cost 3 dollars, and the tortellini were out of this world. Every year it was the highlight of the season and we waited for it with anticipation. It was my Dad’s side of the family that came over every year. And since they are the Irish side of my family, they could only get their fix of this soup once a year and it became quite a big event.

One year we found out that the secret tortellini lady had moved back to Italy. What would we do?? For a few years my Mom bounced around from various specialty store to newer secret tortellini ladies. But it was never the same and our special meal suffered. Don’t get me wrong, it was still great, but not like it once was. On top of that these women were charging 15 dollars a bag and up! That got expensive when buying 8 bags. Finally one year when we had no other options (and I happened to be unemployed at the time and just beginning to love cooking) I offered to make the tortellini.

My Mom was unsure. Should we risk it not tasting good for all those people? Can we get the recipe from Grandma? Will you be able to do it all yourself? I was home for the weekend and she called my Grandmother asking about the recipe and if she thought it was doable, she replied probably not and that it was a lot of work. The NEXT MORNING, my Grandmother showed up with 2 pounds of tortellini filling, my Grandfather, 2 great aunts, and a ham(!) for lunch. We worked all day and it has been a fun tradition ever since. I was home for thanksgiving this past weekend and we all got together to make them for this year.