Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Good Advice

Snooki.  I am SO sorry, girl!

Now, before you go and put the malocchio on your rat bastard husband, talk to your mother.  If she's anything like my grandmother, she'll roll her eyes and give you some good advice.

My grandmother told me two things about men:
  1. "Put 'em all in a paper bag, and reach in and get one."; and
  2. "He can put his shoes by my bed anytime."
(The second is in reference to Luciano Pavarotti.)

The first, Snooki, means that men are not all that special.  You got one you like, great.  Does he bring home a check?  Bonus points.  Does he beat you?  No?  He's a keeper. 

And don't defend him.  He doesn't need defending, YOU need defending.  If you try to defend him you're just going to sound like Tammy Wynette.  Or Hillary Clinton and her "vast conspiracies", something that worried me a lot more than her emails.

Ashley Madison?  Better you should be biting your nails over the Republican presidential candidates.

My grandmother also taught me how to make baby artichokes.  These are better than men.

Stuffed Baby Artichokes
Look for little artichokes in the store.  They're hard to find.  You can make this recipe with big artichokes, too, but big artichokes are a pain-in-the-ass, so keep your eye out for the little ones.

Once you have your baby artichokes (depending on their size, you'll need 6-8), trim them.  You do this with a bread knife.  Cut the bottom stems so that they're flat with the rest of the bottom of the artichokes and then saw off about a half-inch straight across the tops.  If you want to get fancy, you can stick them in ice water while you prepared the stuffing.  This opens up the leaves a little.  Otherwise, just rinse the artichokes and set them aside.

Now make a stuffing.  Mix about 2 cups of breadcrumbs with some grated cheese (romano, parmesan, and/or pecorino), some Italian spices (oregano, basil, parsley, etc.), garlic salt, and black pepper.  If you run low, make some more.  The proportions don't really matter.  Mix it however it tastes good to you, but try not to overdo the basil.

Get a rectangular casserole dish and put about an inch of water in the bottom.  Take the little artichokes and spread out the leaves.  One at a time, sprinkle the stuffing over them (some of it will fall into the leaves) and put them in the casserole dish.  Cram as many into the dish as you can, and then drizzle with olive oil.  Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour or so, until tender.

Serve with melted butter. 

If you don't know how to eat an artichoke, go on Google and find a tutorial  (I'm thinking YouTube).  And get ready for one of the best experiences of your life.

You can't get this from Ashley Madison.  Trust me.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Woulda. Shoulda. Coulda.

There are certain consequences that go along with being Italian.

Some consequences are good:
  1. You've got great skin.  After the acne clears up.
  2. If you've taken it easy on the cannoli, you have the ass of a goddess.
  3. And if you're smart, you learned how to cook from your mother.  So no man in his right mind will ever leave your lasagna for some skinny blonde.
Some consequences are bad:
  1. You are incapable of responding calmly to stressful situations.  Any stressful situation.  Just forget about it. 
This is genetic and not your fault.  In Italy, Italians drink wine to calm down.  In Italy, where we belong, you can have wine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  In fact, it's encouraged, because it keeps the taxes down.  Emergency response teams are expensive.

Americans, though, tend to be fussy about day-drinking.  I think it's the whole car culture thing, which needs to go away for a lot of reasons, but probably won't.  Too bad.  Americans should remember the '80s and their three-martini lunches.  People were happy.  They thought they were happy because Ronald Reagan was president, but it was the martinis, believe me. 

Italian-Americans usually deal with wine-deprivation by consuming mass quantities of coffee, which only makes them more difficult.  Then they get a rep for being excitable, taking offense at every little thing, and having hair-trigger tempers.   I won't argue that, but what do you expect when you take away the wine?

I wish I'd had a gallon of the stuff the other day.

I'm Sicilian, so it's much worse.  People think of us as being silent, stony-faced types (2500 years of foreign occupation will do that to you), but - trust me - beneath that exterior, we're boiling.  In fact, I'd say the stonier we get, the more you've got to worry about.  As long as we're yelling, you're okay, but remember Al Pacino in "The Godfather"?  The way he got right before he smacked Diane Keaton?  She was pushing every button he had, while he just stared at her blankly.  Then, all of a suddenly, he started to shake, and wham! Mt. Etna, right in the face.  And that wasn't all acting, I'm telling you, given her performance.

I have this summer job as a "host" to visiting tourists and one of my "host" jobs is to get people to be nice and stand in line.  It's not easy.  As soon as you tell people to form a line they go brain dead. And act like you want them to walk over a cliff.  Well, the other day, I had finally gotten my line in order and talked down the psychotics, when this little boy in a wheel chair showed up with his family.  I took a few minutes to get them situated (he was a legitimate priority, am I right?) and when I got back, the line had disintegrated into a mob.

Led by an English guy, I think, by the accent.  Or maybe Australian, which is easier to make fun of.

So he started hollering at me about how I didn't explain things properly (it's a freaking line, you idiot, only two goddam dimensions for you to figure out).  And then some other tourists got in on it, acting like big unswaddled babies, and then the whole crowd started pushing like they were going to miss the last game of the World Cup Finals if they didn't start a stampede.

I had, like, two seconds to make a decision.  And my decision was to let the most hysterical morons go first.  Which, obviously, made everyone else unhappy (damn those little boys in wheelchairs), but probably saved their lives.  And mine.

I'm not proud of that decision.

I tried to stay calm.  I really did.   I might have looked calm, even though my brain was congealing like eggs in a frittata.  But I could feel the steam trying to escape through my ears.  And the crowd got real quiet.  Probably because they started noticing my resemblance to Al Pacino.

Later on, I got to thinking.  Woulda. Shoulda. Coulda.  Had my brain been functioning:
  1. I woulda alternated between the normal line and the one with the gaguzz' headed up by Crocodile Dundee.  You go, they go, you go, they go.  Fair enough?  No.  But this was a lose-lose deal.
  2. I shoulda smiled sweetly and said, "Let me call my manager."  Then he would have had to wait, and he still would've been last in line.  Fair enough?  Absolutely.
  3. I coulda said, "Hey!  Man from Snowy River!  Get outta my face.  You don't like it, take it up with my boss.  Or you and me can settle it later, outside.  Your choice."  I like this option.  A lot.
Of course, a real Sicilian would have followed the guy back to his hotel and bribed a bellhop to put Super Glue in his shoes.

I shoulda.