Monday, December 2, 2013

Tis the season

I do pretty good job keeping it together. At least I'd like to think so. Except for that day I walked in the grocery store to get no boil lasagna noodles.  It's Advent. Barbara Streisand is singing Christmas carols over the PA system [I find this ironic]. If you don't celebrate Advent, it's that four weeks before Christmas. I was raised Methodist and Advent wasn't a big deal; we had a wreath with the four candles in church, but the highlight of the season was, of course, Christmas. Right now it's also Hanukkah.  There's all kinds of extra super cool food in the grocery store right now. Food was super important to my grandpa. I think because it was important to his parents, because they didn't have food growing up in Sicily. Add that to the fact that they were Italian so if you love somebody you fed them. And you fed them. And you fed them. And you sent them home with left overs or canned goods you bought but realized you yourself would never eat. 

Not just whatever you had laying around. Oh no. Because what they had laying around was usually some sort of love feast for the pallet. At least my grandparents. Having lunch at their house was like a five course meal. And that was casual lunch. I'm not talking about holidays.

If it turns you off, or you have an eating disorder and this is too  much, I apologize. My grandpa was one of those guys that had everything. He would tell you as much. So for Christmas, or his birthday about the only thing you could buy him was food. Dates from the Middle East or halvah or olive oil in bulk from the Strip District*. Fresh or dried figs, those were a particular favorite. Chocolate truffles, sometimes with liqueur. Feta stuffed olives. Gorgonzola [I would make a special trip to Penn Mac and shell out for the expensive stuff]. And then I'd run down the street and get him pastrami from a kosher deli, the likes of which he couldn't find to his preference in Erie. His kitchen was decorated with olive ephemera the way some people decorate their kitchens with roosters. In my box of Christmas favors, I still have a linen kitchen towel printed with different types of pasta that I meant to give him that never made it to his kitchen.

So, there I was, standing in the pasta aisle, looking for no boil noodles, and there was a guy doing his grocery shopping and talking on the phone with his honey. He said goodbye the way my grandpa did. And I lost it in the middle of the pasta aisle of the grocery store, trying to find no boil lasagna noodles. Because this time last year, it was the beginning of the end. We just had no idea.

So I came home and finished up my Christmas shopping online. Because who wants to be that girl crying in the middle of the pasta aisle at Christmastime? 

*I wrote this initially by voice recognition software on the fly in a general stream of consciousness [hence the terrible editing], and I would like to note, for anyone not from Pittsburgh, that the Strip District is neighborhood of Pittsburgh where you go to buy food. It's where many of the city's specialty markets, as well as Pittsburgh's own Public Market is located. Asian, Italian, Latin American, spices, tea, fresh roasted coffee, bread, chocolate, seafood, organics, you name it, it's down there. And a crazy, delightful fabric shop[quilting to lux upholstery], the only place physically in the city to get sewing thread. 

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