Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ghost Story

My daughter, Nikki, works for an attorney.

The job's pretty good.  She gets a decent salary.  She goes downtown every day.  The work is sort of interesting and the attorney's not a bad guy.  The only pain-in-the-ass she has in her life is one of her co-workers.

We've all been there.  I don't have the heart to tell her that as soon as you get rid of one, another will just crop up in her place.  It's like they're ordered from the Batshit-Crazy Co-worker Factory, on special.

This particular piece-of-work eats off-season Peeps for breakfast, wears clothes that tell you where she's from in Indiana, whistles, talks about her three ex-husbands constantly, and mouths off to the boss.  Pretty standard issue.  On top of it all, she has a bizarre name.  I can't tell you what it is, for legal reasons, but I will tell you that:
  1. It rhymes;
  2. It's hilariously descriptive.
And it's not even her maiden name.  It's, like, the name of her second ex-husband.  She CHOSE to keep the name, which tells me that this woman may have some redeeming qualities after all.

One day Nikki was telling me a story about work.  A bunch of "the girls" were sitting around the lunchroom, talking about lasagna or something, when suddenly Miss Congeniality piped in with, "I don't believe in ghosts."(?)  She proceded to descibe a creepy event that happened back in her trailer park in Indiana that - she is sure - had nothing to do with ghosts.  Because, you know, only stupid people believe in ghosts.  And on and on, until everybody remembered they had some work to do.

So I said to Nikki, "Oh, yeah?  Did you tell her about The Veal Marsala from Beyond?"

She didn't, because that would have prolonged the agony.  But I defy anybody to tell me they don't believe in ghosts after hearing this story:

Once, about twenty years ago, I was sitting around the house, when my neighbor Ruthie called me.  "I need your veal marsala recipe."

"Hold on," I said and went to grab my favorite Italian cookbook.  Only my favorite Italian cookbook wasn't there.  "Let me call you back."

I turned the house upside down every-which-way-to-Tuesday.  No cookbook.  This is the out-of-print, published by Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago in 1954, best-marinara-recipe-ever, book that my father-in-law had given me.  A little pamphlet of a thing.  And the freaking motherlode of Italian recipes.

It was gone.

I looked everywhere.  I scoured the basement.  I called my brother-in-law and accused him of taking it.  I tried to find a used copy on the Internet.  No go.  Niente.  Zip.

Then, a few months later, I was visiting my grandfather, sitting in his kitchen.  Suddenly I flashed that I had given the book to my grandmother for the stufoli recipe a few months before she died.  Could it be?  I ran over to the bookshelf where she had kept her cookbooks, and searched.  And searched.  Looked at very single book.  Not there.

I went back to the kitchen.  I sat down again, and that's when I heard The Voice.  Right in my ear.  It was my grandmother's voice.  Like she was standing next to me.  And she said, "Go and look again, you idiot."

My grandmother was one of these legendary Sicilian nonnas that most people only know about from scary Mafia movies.  People like her rule their worlds with an iron hand and must be obeyed, even after they're having dinner with Elvis.  So I got up, went back to the bookshelf, picked up the first cookbook I saw, opened it, and...

...there it was.  My cookbook.  Stuck in between the pages.

I'm telling you, these women are so powerful they can - and will - reach across dimensions to make sure you get the veal marsala right.

Veal Marsala from Beyond
In a big skillet, one that you have a lid for, brown some garlic in about 1/4 cup of olive oil.  In a deep plate, put a cup of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Dip some veal cutlets in the flour and fry them in the oil.  In a bowl, mix:  1/4 cup of Marsala wine, 1/4 cup of water, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.  Pour it over the veal and cover the skillet.  Cook on very low heat until the veal is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add a little more water if it gets too thick.

So there you go, Ms. Skanky Pants, bane of my daughter's professional existence.  Just because nobody's bothering to contact YOU from beyond (to make sure you get the purple Peeps), doesn't mean they're not out there.  It just means they don't want to talk to you.

I'm lucky.  I've got a ghost that not only knows how to cook Italian, but who also knows I'm an idiot.

More like an angel than a ghost.


  1. Wow. What a spooky story with a very nice ending. I don't eat veal because I'm afraid that the ghost of a baby cow will attack me in my sleep. But this would be very nice with chicken. I am obviously not afraid of chicken ghosts.

  2. Babe,
    this story is just too good [and scary]to be true!!! at least the endidng is a a nice one. and the recipe must be heaven!
    kisses and hugs and wishes of a lovely week ahead!

  3. What a beautiful story Connie!

  4. You are a genius my friend! Clever story, delicious recipe, and guess what, I've just come back from my vacation in Lampedusa and stuffed myself with delicious Sicilian food :-) tons of love my dear friend!! Baci,
    Coco et La vie en rose fashion blog - Valeria Arizzi


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