People ask me recurring questions. For example, “Why chef,” or “Why food;” lastly, “Why pizza?” They are all legitimate questions. After all, I succeed at anything I love doing, until I do not love it anymore. Ask all my middle and high school teachers. Their refrain was, “She has so much potential… if only she applied herself.” I was too busy trying to discover myself and how to have fun my way, without getting into too much trouble. If my parents only knew. I always had a passion for good food. I was lucky, born with a silver spoon in my mouth, because both my parents were foodies. Let me rephrase that; they were hardcore foodies. Foodies who would pack the family of five into the car and drive 3 hours to discover a new trattoria they had heard about from a friend.
Yes, that kind of foodies. I loved these food adventures. My parents would put in a cassette tape of the Platters, and I would sing along. However, after the first hour of the Platters on repeat, I was done singing, and retreated into my own musical world compliments of my ever so faithful Walkman. Remember those? I still use mine. Long car rides always resulted in some kind of fight among us three children sitting in the back. These were immediately squished by my mother’s ever so powerful pinch to the legs. To this day, I do not know how she managed to reach so far back with her arm while sitting in the front seat. I have tried to replicate the “back reach,” but, to no avail. Perhaps the car seats were narrower back then? I will never know. My mother was an excellent cook. I use the past tense because, although still alive and kicking, she rarely cooks any more. At 88 years of age, she has difficulty standing and walking. But, she can still direct anybody how to cook. I wish I could record all the food knowledge in her head. To this day, I call her on random occasions and ask for recipes, or how she used to cook something that I miss so much. She was such a great cook that most of my parents friendships with other adults were based on how they loved my mom’s cooking. Or so my parents discovered over and over when they stopped inviting these “friends” over.
The invites to go out, or any phone call for that matter, faded. My father had special plates made for her that say, “Da Elena bene si mangia e poco si spende,” which means “At Elena’s you eat well and spend little.” If I were ever to open another restaurant, I would call it “Da Elena.” Perhaps, my parents would let me use their plates? By the way, my mother’s name is Elena, but she goes by Lena. The only time I really got along with my mother was around food. The only thing we had in common was the love for food. I remember copying recipes down in an old agenda when I was in middle school. After I filled that one up in high school, I started a new one. Today, I have filled up three of them. All recipes that one day I hope to cook and taste.
So, why food? Why chef? Why pizzeria? I think I have answered the first question. Follow me to find out the answer to the other questions.
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