Sunday, March 16, 2014

Reflections on Boston Irish Kitchens

When I was a kid growing up in Boston, festive occasions usually meant plates of Wonder Bread, sliced ham, and two bowls of potato salad with handwritten signs stuck in them reading "Onions" and "No Onions."

The oldest of seven, I was married and cooking before my siblings. My youngest brother once raved about a lasagna I made for a family party. When I thanked him and told him it was actually manicotti, he said "Oh" and put it aside, never to be touched again.

My parents didn’t get along well. My father had never tasted garlic in his life, and when my mother tried a chicken dish containing garlic powder, he accused her of trying to poison him.

My favorite story comes from the funeral of my beloved grandmother, Dolly O’Brien. My mother and my aunt argued over the food for the back-at-the-house-after-the-mass thing. My aunt wanted to prepare a buffet, but my mother vehemently told her not to bother, since "people were bringing food." Well, what they brought were foil-wrapped loaves of Irish soda bread. I counted them: 48 loaves, stacked on the kitchen counter! Fortunately, my aunt ignored my mother and set out a lovely buffet, no Wonder Bread, no handwritten signs.

Okay, there was ham, but that’s not so bad.

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