Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Foodie Walk Down Memory Lane - or....

Chef Sam de Leoz is hosting Lasang Pinoy #10 - "a Walk Down Memory Lane" and even though I'm not Filipino I thought I'd share this particular memory. I call it ...

"The Famous Friday Night at Bubbie & Zaidie's or The Night My Tongue Stuck to the Railing"

When I was little, my mother would take me and my sister to her parents’ for Friday night dinners while my father worked. Many of my cousins would be there (and naturally their parents as well). My grandmother (Bubbie) would cook the most delicious traditional Jewish delicacies like chicken soup with matzo balls, unhatched chicken eggs – really just the yolk of the egg before the white developed, sort of like fish roe only sweet and rich and wonderful, but now practically impossible to find. She would also add chicken feet to flavor the broth. My grandfather loved it and my cousins and I would make horrified noises as he ate it. My great aunt Mima (which I always thought was her name, but really is just Yiddish for “aunt”) made heldzel which is stuffed skin from the neck of a chicken. I don’t know what it was stuffed with, but it was delicious! This recipe was lost for all time since my mother never made it and it even sounds too time consuming for me.

My favourite dish, however, was a little bit different. Bubbie made a version of garlic spareribs that was exceptional. She called it "Chinese" Spareribs, although she had never been to a Chinese restaurant and immigrated to Canada from Russia in 1907 - so how she knew...I'll never know, but just writing about it makes my mouth water. Being kosher, rather than pork, she'd use veal spare ribs that she had the butcher cut up. It was my all time favourite dish of hers and she didn’t always make it, so when she did I was in heaven!

One wintry Friday night, when I was six, my mother (who was very pregnant with my brother) was getting my three-year old sister ready. She asked me to go downstairs and wait on the balcony for the taxi. Her last instruction after “Don’t leave the balcony” and “Call me when the taxi gets here” was “Don’t stick your tongue on the railing”. I’ll never know why she told me not to. I had never attempted it before. But naturally, I had no choice but to try it out. I’m not sure how long I waited with my tongue on the rail, but once the taxi came, I went inside to tell my mother. What I didn’t realize was that my tongue had frozen to the railing and I had left the tip of it there.

For your trivia information… there is a lot of blood in the tip of your tongue. I didn’t realize what had happened until my sister started crying hysterically in my mother’s arms as she came down the stairs. Looking back on things, I give my mother credit for keeping calm considering she had to deal with one bleeding child and another screaming one. My mother did some quick first aid and we took the taxi to the doctor, briefly stopping at my grandparents to deposit my sister with the rest of the family. They got a short version of the story that grew exponentially by the time we returned from the doctor (who gave me some tablet to keep under my tongue to stop the bleeding and told me not to eat anything hot for a while).

Finally we got back to my grandparents. By now my tongue was throbbing and my mother, having realized the crisis was over, was lecturing me on my brilliant act. I was not very happy and to make matters worse all my cousins wanted me to stick my tongue out so they could see. The story of how much of my tongue was missing had been greatly exaggerated from the time my mother dropped my sister off and of course all my cousins had to make horrified faces and noises and all my aunts had to continue the lecturing. But the worst part of the ordeal… my grandmother had made my favourite spareribs and I couldn’t eat them. It still makes me sad to think about it. Guess I’ll just have to whip up a batch right now.


Related links:


Vineela said...

Hi Ruth,
Thank you for great roundup.
Hope to try lot of recipes on ginger.

s'kat said...

Ha! Know that's a great story indeed!

Gabriella True said...

oh my god. I am laughing so hard. Did you see A Christmas Story? One of the kids sticks his tongue on the flag pole. It is one of my all time favorite scenes.

Ruth said...

It is a funny story to tell - not so funny at the time, as I remember.

Thanks for dropping by.

Cocinero said...

Hi Ruth, Thank you for participating. That was short of a kitchen disaster-another blogging event in the making. BTW is the morsel of tongue still on the railing? Take care.